A couple in Chicago posing as a Chasiddishe family has been exposed as missionaries who were attempting to infiltrate the frum community and entrap them with their heretical faith. With siyata diShmaya, a sofer from Williamsburg passing through the city recognized the husband as a man who had tried a similar ruse in Brooklyn and alerted the leaders of the Jewish community, who immediately publicized the danger of this team of missionaries.
In November, 2017, a Jewish woman residing in Flatbush contacted this writer through intermediaries concerning a couple who had rented out their basement. “I live in Brooklyn,” she wrote, “and I rent out my basement apartment either to couples just getting married or to post-seminary students. Over the past many years we have had many wonderful tenants. Some FFBs and some BTs.”
“So [it came as] no surprise when a ba’al teshuvah couple presented themselves, seemingly very observant… [although] a little strange….. The wife [was] more knowledgeable [than the husband]. [She] said [that she] went to seminary in Israel, though I [had] never heard of it. Upon looking it up, “Israel College of the Bible”, [I] found out [that it was involved in] missionary training.
“In short, they are missionaries, working for Global Gates. (He told me that he works for a tzedakah called “Shaarei Olam” and “Rabbi” Clayman [was the] head of it). Her background in America is “Word of Messiah Ministries”and”Arborbrook Christian Acadamy”; [and] getting a BA at Columbia International University ([which is] affiliated with the ministry).
“They never lied to me, but they never told the truth. They left my basement and are now living in Williamsburg. They have learned more and become more proficient in their masquerade. I have had people [from Williamsburg] call me, and even though I gave the names of various rabbonim in [our] community who asked this couple to leave, some [in Williamsburg] are not convinced.
“I also know they have many, many friends in other frum neighborhoods here in Brooklyn. They told me as such in different ways. They are a network, and as stated on the Global Gates website, their goal is now to integrate into the frum community and over the decade ([through] intermarriage) make Jewish-Christians.
“I AM NOT a [journalist] but I feel the [media] has to do continuous report[ing] about this danger to our community and to our children’s future. It is a delicate situation, [since we do] not [want] to tarnish the image of a [true] ba’al teshuvah either or [arouse] suspicion on them.
“The more questions [that] are asked, the more the ‘scam’ is revealed. [For] example, they have no photos of their chasunah, [and] whoever married them was never heard of in that town. In this [particular] case, it turned out she told me a “Rabbi Weber” married them, and I knew her maiden name was Weber. Her father ended up being a Christian minister and of course there was no Rabbi Weber in this North Carolina town or in the vicinity.”
Upon receiving this email, I contacted the writer, and she told me she heard that these missionaries has plans to register their children in local yeshivos and Bais Yaakov’s, thereby further infiltrating the heart of the community and exposing our dear children to unheard of dangers in Emunah.
At the time, I spoke with a community leader, and he informed me that the rabbonim in Williamsburg are well aware of the issue and are taking it very seriously. Indeed, the frum community in Williamsburg managed to ostracize them, and they moved on to yet another unsuspecting Jewish community, attempting to masquerade as baale teshuvah and influence vulnerable children by running a baby-sitting service.
Anash.org reported that David and Rivkah Castillos arrived in Chicago around two months ago, where they falsely presented themselves as recent baale teshuvah. Rivkah told people she was from a Sefardic family, and that David had begun growing his long peyos while living amongst a Satmar community. They were integrated into the local community, attending minyanim and shiurim, and even securing jobs; David in a Kosher grocery store, and Rivka as a babysitter for a Jewish family.
Most mornings, David would daven shacharis and then learn with a chavrusah. One morning, he joined an earlier minyan at another shul. Hashgachah pratis had it that a sofer visiting from Williamsburg noticed him and informed one of the other mispallelim that this man and his wife were sent away from their previous kehillah for spreading kefirah. This information was immediately shared with Rabbi Levi Notik, the Rov of F.R.E.E. of Chicago.
Rabbi Notik, with the help of Rabbi Benzion Kravitz of Jews for Judaism, unraveled the disturbing story. The ties of the Castillos to several Messianic websites and organizations were revealeded, and a search of Rivkah’s social media brought to light her heretical beliefs. The couple’s true goal was to infiltrate the Jewish community and influence unsuspecting members.
When confronted by Rabbi Notik, David did not deny anything, but rather confirmed his beliefs and admitting to his mission, and said he would continue to strive to achieve it. At this time, the Chicago Jewish community was informed of the Castillos’ true intentions, and were warned to refrain from engaging with them in any form.
Anash.org reported that Rabbi Notik shared this message with Lubavitch communities around the world:
While Lubavitch mosdos aim to be open and welcoming, it should not chas veshalom become hefker (free-for-all). It is important that we keep our eyes and ears open, and to reach out when we have concerns. When someone is sharing ideas that seem foreign to Yiddishkeit, we should not accept it as valid because of the frum life they lead or their belonging to our shul. Just as we must constantly be aware of threats to our physical safety, we must be no less vigilant in guarding the spiritual surroundings of ourselves and our children! This is not limited to situations involving missionaries R”l; we must be careful of any foreign influences we encounter.”
This time, the situation was caught quickly and dealt with before any damage took place. Unfortunately, by the time the truth was uncovered in the past, things had progressed further.