Yad L'Achim Launches Attack On Jerusalem Messianic Jews
by Shira Sorko-Ram
As you may know, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel do not, as a rule, seek employment. They expect the State (our taxes) to pay for their living expenses while they spend their days in Rabbinical studies. Messianic Jews have found that they seem to have an excess of leisure time spent in persecuting Israeli followers of Yeshua across the country. Over the last few months, our close friends Asher Intrater and Naama and Serge Kogen have been attacked on several fronts because of their faith in Yeshua the Messiah.
Asher was an elder in our congregation in Tel Aviv for several years until he fulfilled his vision of starting a sister congregation, Ahavat Yeshua (Love of Yeshua) in Jerusalem. Naama and Serge both found salvation in our congregation, and then followed Asher to work with him in the congregation there. Both families live in Mevasseret, a suburb of Jerusalem.
One day the police arrived at the door of the Kogens and they found themselves under investigation for proselytizing a 16-year-old girl. Finding nothing, the police dropped the investigation. However, Yad L’Achim, an extremist anti-Messianic non-profit organization, jumped at the chance to place a full-page ad in a local newspaper with the Kogen’s name and address and accused them of being secret missionaries who illegally converted an underage girl to Christianity. Converting a minor to any religion other than traditional Judaism is against the law in Israel.
One Rabbi Avraham Chen said that he had been told by “reliable sources” that “missionaries are operating in elementary and junior high schools in Mevasseret, with the goal of severing the connection between young people and their families and, ultimately getting them to convert to Christianity.” Yad L’Achim has no qualms of publishing twisted facts and imaginative concoctions when it comes to their propaganda against Messianic Jews. They probably thought up this tale because some children of Messianic Jews do attend school in that area.
Secondly, they plastered posters throughout the neighborhood warning of the “missionaries” Asher, Naama and Serge. They continue to hand out posters at the local mall. The Ultra-Orthodox threatened to burn the Kogen’s house down, causing the landlord to demand they move. (He later relented and told them they could stay as long as they want.) The ultra-Orthodox extremists organized a protest in front of the Kogen’s home with signs that read “Missionaries are targeting Jewish souls” and are circulating a petition to pass a law making it illegal to share the Gospel with any Jewish citizen in Israel. During the protest, the distraught 16-year-old girl who was the alleged target of the couple’s “missionary” efforts, said all of Yad L’Achim’s claims were false.
A journalist from the respected Compass Direct News stated that Donna Lubofsky maintained that she had not converted to Christianity. She wanted to speak at the protest to give her side of what happened, but the organizers wouldn’t let her, she said. “Why won’t they let me speak?” Donna told Compass at the protest. “They won’t let me speak because what they are saying is untrue.” The evening after the protest, the Kogens came home to find Donna there with a stack of Yad L’Achim literature that she had collected by hand and ripped to pieces. It was obvious she had been crying, Kogen said. “This group doesn’t care about this girl at all. They just care about getting to us,” Naama said about her and her husband. (Compass Direct News, 2July2011)
The girl is a neighbor of the Kogens and was drawn to Naama because of the love she felt. Although Naama didn’t talk to the underage girl about her faith, Donna asked to visit to their congregation. With the permission of the parents, Donna attended for about two months. Little by little, according to Naama, her behavior began to improve. Yad L’Achim heard about the girl and persuaded the parents to sue the Kogens.
One blogger asked rhetorically if they had been paid by “someone” to initiate the suit. “They look at us as worse than Christians,” Intrater said. “They look at us as if we’ve betrayed our people and become Gentiles. And they want to annihilate us. We see ourselves as true Jews. We see it as an argument over who is the true Messiah. What we want to say is, ‘Who is the real Messiah?’ They feel hatred toward us and see us as the enemy. We don’t look at them that way. These are our people, and we love them,” Intrater said. (Ibid.)
In an article on the Yad L’Achim website titled “Outraged Residents Demonstrate Against Missionaries in Mevasseret,” one of their leaders, Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifschitz warned the public, “We must learn from our enemies; we must fight with all our strength and not give up on any Jew who could fall, G-d forbid, into the arms of the missionaries.”
Rabbi Lifschitz added that their response must be, in addition to shock and prayers on behalf of these victimized Jews, intensive lobbying for Knesset legislation that will effectively ban missionary activity in Israel.”
Thank you for your fervent prayers,