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Friday, September 19, 2008


Yad L'achim News

Big Brother Is Watching

Three missionaries tried to deceitfully convert to Judaism in religious courts around the world, only to be foiled by Yad L'Achim .

A few weeks ago, a distinguished-looking professor of international law showed up at Chabad house of Geneva headed by Rabbi Mendel Pewzner asking to convert to Judaism.

He made an excellent impression, dressed in a suit and hat and displaying broad knowledge of Judaism. Most importantly, he appeared very sincere in his desire to accept upon himself the yoke of Torah and mitzvos.

As the man began making inroads into the kehillah, attending services and being invited into homes, Rabbi Pewzner got an urgent message from Yad L'Achim in Israel: The newcomer was a missionary. Yad L'Achim backed up its charge with evidence that the man was a Mormon and active in missionary activity around the world.

Moreover, Yad L'Achim presented eye-witness testimony that during the very time that the man was in shul, in his religious Jewish garb, he was trying to convince tourists visiting the place to convert out of Judaism.

The final evidence, which left no doubt as to the man's intentions, was a statement attributed to him that he wanted to become a Jew because it would be easier for him to operate among Jews, since he could pass himself off as one of them.

While the kehillah, armed with this critical information, banished the man from its midst, the story doesn't end here. The jurist moved on to Israel and appeared before a beis din for conversion declaring his "sincere" desire to become a Jew. Yad L'Achim, which kept the impostor on its radar, was quick to present the members of the beis din with its evidence.

With a persistence that is characteristic of missionaries, the man moved on to Rome, where he turned to a local beis din for assistance. Yad L'Achim tripped him up again, presenting Rabbi Gad Eldad, a member of the conversion court in Rome, with the facts.

The learned law professor is not the first missionary to try to convert to Judaism to be able to infiltrate the Jewish community. Nor is he the first whose efforts were stymied by Yad L'Achim. A couple from Frankfurt, Germany, members of a missionary cult, recently began the process of conversion with the Rabbinical Council of America. But the council's beis din rejected their application after receiving incriminating information from Yad L'Achim.

Harav Shalom Dov Lifschitz, chairman of Yad L'Achim, revealed that he recently sent an urgent appeal to conversion courts around the world asking that applicants sign a statement disavowing their belief in Christianity before their application will be considered.

"It isn't foolproof, but it will put up a barrier because their religious beliefs forbid them from making such a declaration," he said. "We have to understand that there are missionaries who are seeking to convert to Judaism – and receive Israeli citizenship as a result – as a means of advancing their missionary efforts. Every step must be taken to stop them."

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