Evangelical “sleeper cells” among Orthodox Jews?

Suspicious about proselytizing initiatives targeting Jews, anti- missionary Jewish groups over the past few years have exposed several Christian missionaries posing as Orthodox Jews, including most recently a father and son who had changed their name from Dawson to Isaacson and been active as Orthodox rabbis in several U.S. Jewish communities, reports the Jewish Chronicle (October 21). A few months earlier, another missionary who had lived as an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem along with his family, and who had even launched a small yeshiva (seminary) of his own while being supported at least at some point by MorningStar Ministries in South Carolina, had been denounced by the anti-missionary group Beyneynu (Jewish Chronicle, May 6 and 17). In both cases, despite their claims, the missionary rabbis apparently had no Jewish background, and beyond the deceit and the concerns about any type of missionary activities toward Jews, the specific tactic they adopted raised another critical issue from the viewpoint of Jewish law (Halacha)—the fact that the rituals in which they were involved were invalid and needed to be repeated.

Last spring, Michael Brown wrote in Townhall (May 4) that leading Christian evangelistic organizations addressing Jews were eager to disassociate themselves from deceptive missionary tactics, while differentiating between such practices and the hiding of beliefs that converts sometimes need to practice in specific environments. In Christianity Today (June 23), Jayson Casper wrote that “Messianic Jews were quick to distance themselves [from the practice].” Attempts to create “sleeper cells” among Orthodox Jews are seen as fringe initiatives and do not seem to have produced any converts anyway, while the ultra-Orthodox community remains largely untouched by missionary efforts. “[S]ince most Messianic Jews came from the non- Orthodox community, efforts to share the gospel with the ultra-Orthodox are still in their infancy,” Casper remarked.