Brooklyn, NY - Coinciding with the arrival of Sukkot, the Chosen People Ministries is holding the grand opening of its new multi-million dollar Messianic Jewish Center in Brooklyn, and along with it, a strategic plan aimed at targeting members of the ultra-Orthodox community for conversion.
THE TIMES OF ISRAEL reports that the center, located in the old Yablokoff Kingsway Memorial Chapel at 1978 Coney Island Avenue, cost $2.1M and has undergone about $900,000 in renovations.
Chosen People Ministries, much like the more well-known Jews for Jesus, melds Judaism with evangelical Christian faith.
The center opens despite attempts by members of the ultra-Orthodox community over the past few years to block its completion via city ordinance violations, but now ultra-Orthodox leaders are faced with the task of attempting to limit the effectiveness of the Ministries’ well-organized campaign to lure in members of the ultra-Orthodox community.
Ruth Guggenheim, director of Baltimore’s Jews for Judaism, cautioned ultra-Orthodox leaders not to be too confident about the community’s ability to withstand the recruitment campaign.
“They will make inroads because they are offering free services to the community and unconditional love,” said Guggenheim.
“They’ve been ramping up for this for over 20 years, waiting until they have a strong enough group of people with enough knowledge about the Orthodox community. They will come in with men in white shirts and tzitzis and the women will be dressed modestly, and they know it will be a challenge and that they are up to the challenge.”
Rabbi Mordechai Todarsky, director of the Russian American Jewish Experience—-which will now be a neighbor to the center—-called it “alarming” that the center is “beginning to make inroads,” but said much of that is die to the fact that “there are more and more young people getting involved.”
Chosen People Ministries kicked off its campaign months ago by posting on its website the relative ease with which one can jump from ultra-Orthodox to Hebrew Christianity.
“The Lord is already working in the two largest Hassidic communities in Brooklyn: the Chabad-Lubavich and Satmar communities,” read the entry, while claiming that “with great thanks to God, we can report that there are indeed some believers in Jesus among the Satmar community, although most of them continue to live in the community as ‘underground’ believers.”
“Imagine with us that one day we could fill the sanctuary of the new Brooklyn Messianic Center with new and growing believers in Yeshua from the Hassidic community!” the post continued. “We believe that our Lord is mighty and can do all things, and we know that He has sovereign plans for our presence in that neighborhood.
The sooner we finish, the sooner we can use the facility for ministry to reach even the ‘unreachable’ of the Hassidic Jewish community.”
Guggenheim warned that the first ones to be approached will be the “discontented” members of the ultra-Orthodox community, more pointedly, those belonging to “families in crisis,” and those with substance abuse issues.
They are not so much “selling theology and ideology,” Guggenheim said. “They’re selling love.”
Guggenheim said, ““What is missing in the Orthodox community that perhaps the Hebrew Christians are trying to offer is a very close personal relationship with their mentor, a non-judgmental community with perceived unconditional acceptance. In response, what the Orthodox community needs is to reassess our constant need to judge people and to assess their religious practice.”