Brighton Ministries Target Russian Jews

Courtesy of UF Digital Collections via Flickr

While opponents of the Voorhies Avenue mosque some fear a quiet conspiracy among Muslims to convert Jews and turn American society into an Islamic Sharia state, there’s a pair of Brighton Beach pastors they may be more concerned about.*

The Hope of Israel Congregation and a separate Baptist church are targeting the area’s 160,000-or-so Russian Jews for conversion to Christianity.

“We saw a great need to plant the church here,” Michael King, pastor of the Baptist congregation, told Brooklyn Eagle. “In all reality, the church should have been established 20 years prior.”

The paper notes that the two churches have handed out 8,000 Russian and Hebrew-language bibles and 20,000 Russian-language tracts as part of their effort to bring Jews to Jesus.

But that’s not to be confused with Jews For Jesus, the most well-known evangelical group with the same mission. They’re not related.

Local Jewish leaders though are condemning the effort, saying that by preying on Russian Jews they’re targeting a vulnerable population.

Dr. Uri Yosef, of the Messiah Youth Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to Jewish education and outreach, told Brooklyn Eagle that Jews from the former Soviet Union were deprived of their traditions and faith, and make for easier conversion.

“They’re preying on people who don’t have any background,” said Ester Lamm, director of marketing and development at Russian American Jewish Experience.

But not all are convinced the approximately 100 evangelists from the two ministries will have much success.

“Any Jew that has a little bit of something up in his head will stay away from that church,” said Rabbi Faivel Rimler of the New Brighton Jewish Center for 35 years.

Read the full story on Brooklyn Eagle’s website.

*We originally wrote, tongue-in-cheek, that those who oppose the mosque fear a conspiracy to take over the U.S. In retrospect I realize it muddles a serious local issue, and so I changed the statement. Some do fear this, but to my knowledge it’s not an objection from the opposition to the particular mosque in Sheepshead Bay, nor the concern of people in our neighborhood. But unfortunately there are plenty of people in the U.S. who believe this is the case with Muslims, and it’s them I’m poking fun at.

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