An overflow crowd answered the call for an emergency kinnus at the Brooklyn Jewish Xperience (BJX) in Flatbush Wednesday.
Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer, Rav of BJX, called the meeting to alert the community to the crisis of a multi-million dollar missionary center being opened in the heart of Flatbush.
Missionaries have infiltrated the area, dressing up as frum Jews, with tzitzis and yarmulkes, and targeting the Orthodox community. The Jews for J group behind the center openly boasts that they chose Flatbush precisely because it has one of the highest Jewish populations in the United States. They intend to target the growing number of Russian Jewish immigrants to the area. But, more insidiously, they cite statistics of dropouts from Orthodox homes and blatantly plan to target young people at risk.
The kinnus was also a seminar in “Da Ma Shetashuv — Know What to Answer”: to educate the community on basic points in dealing with the missionary threat. Keynote speakers were Rabbi Tovia Singer, director of Outreach Judaism and a leading expert in combating missionaries; and Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, Director of RAJE, the Russian American Jewish Experience.
Rabbi Fingerer spelled out the threat, and the cunning methods of the missionaries — from their distortions of Biblical teachings, to ensnaring vulnerable Jews by presenting their missionary center as a synagogue, complete with sifrei Torah and Hebrew “sefarim.” He made an impassioned plea for the community to be aware of the threat in its midst and to get involved and fight back.
Rabbi Singer urged people to go to the sources: Learn Tanach. Know what the Nevi’im really said; know what it says in Chapters 1-52 in Yeshayahu, so you won’t be thrown by a quote out of context from “Isaiah 53.”
Calling the words of Tanach “a kiss from Hashem,” he told listeners to draw inspiration and knowledge from the Nevi’im, to learn what they said and did — and how they said and did it. However, warned Rabbi Singer, don’t try to confront missionaries on your own. They are well-trained and devious. Consult a professional.
Rabbi Tokarsky shocked listeners by telling them to learn from the missionaries themselves. The volunteers of Jews for J are often sincere people who think they are “saving” Jews. He urged the community to learn to care more about each other, especially the unaffiliated and at-risk Jews who would welcome an outstretched hand.