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October 09, 1987 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-09

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28

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Confronting

Continued from preceding page

sionaires say, increasingly
vulnerable. Rabbi Bergstein
agrees. Where it exists at all
it is often "only a third level
involvement," he asserts,
superseded not only by
secular education but by "ex-
tracurricular activities as im-
portant as skiing, karate and
dance." Without a firmer
grounding in at least the
basics of Judaism, he main-
tains, a growing number of
young people will succumb to
the "ignorant but emotional-
ly powerful" missionary
appeals.
The
missionaries
themselves believe that the
rightness of their cause and
their own tenacity will bring
more Jews to their fold. Both
Lew and Jacobs are aware of
the community's hostility. "I
live for the Lord. I shall never
give up," says 64-year-old Lew,
who has been running the
Hope of Israel missions for 25
years.
He himself became a Chris-
tian while searching for a way
to come to terms with his
terrible experiences in the
Holocaust, particularly in
Buchenwald. Living as an Or-
thodox Jew in New York, he
sought help, he says, from
several rabbis before he
entered a Hebrew mission
and "found the Messiah."
He aims to help other Jews
to do the same, through the
Friday meetings and other
events at the mission and
through his weekly television
program on Channel 62, on
which he also advertises sales
of leather bound study Bibles
($50) and of his
autobiography, From Hitler's
Hell to God's Peace ($6). (Lew
has received a signed letter
from Nancy and Ronald
Reagan, thanking him for a
donated copy of the book and
indicating their intention of
including it in their presiden-
tial collection.)
The mission, Lew says, does
not ask for individual dona-
tions, charge a membership
fee or take a collection at its
meetings. The church support
it receives is mostly from in-
dependent Baptists. Accor-
ding to a report in the Detroit
News, the mission's 1986
financial statement showed
$125,495 in total revenues
from donations and interest
on savings, representing an
excess of $4,910 over ex-
penses. Lew and his son,
Leslie, director of outreach
and publications for the mis-
sion, drew a combined salary
of $39,000 for the year.
Lew has lectured and par-
ticipated in Holocaust
seminars in various churches,
temples and schools, in-
cluding Wayne State and
Temple Beth El, but he denies

seeking out any individuals
in missionary attempts.
"They approach me. They
come to me in trouble. Am I
supposed to send them
away?"
Among those who have ap-
proached him recently, he
reports, is a teenager from
West Bloomfield who will ap-
pear on his program in Oc-
tober. "She had everything
money could buy, but not hap-
piness." Another troubled per-
son who has turned to him, he
says, is David Berkowitz, the
New York "Son of Sam"
murderer.
None of the harassment he
has received, which has rang-
ed from nuisance calls to
broken windows and death
threats, will persuade him to
give up. Community hostility

"For such people
to present
themselves as
scholars is fraud.
For them to do so
in an attempt to
tear a child away
from its roots is
vicious."

saddens him, as_, does the
alienation of his brother, the
only other member of his
family to survive the camps.
"But," he says, "nothing is go-
ing to stop me."
Loren Jacobs realizes that
antipathy to Messianic
Judaism unites all parts of
the community and is a ma-
jor hurdle in the path of his
plans for Shema Yisrael.
"They will have to find
another rallying point," he
says. "This is to important.
I don't expect the approval of
the Jewish community. I am
more concerned with the God
of Israel's approval."
The small number of
Hebrew Christians in the
area was Jacobs' reason for
his coming to Detroit to build
a congregation.
"It is clear to me," he says,
"that Jesus is the Messiah of
Israel. We need to accept Him
as Jews and to maintain our
culture and identity!" His
group sent a letter to many
Jewish Detroiters in advance
of the High Holidays,
reiterating this point. The let-
ter ended with an invitation
to attend "Messianic High
Holiday services!'
Shema Yisrael was incor-
porated in 1986 as "an
evangelistic ministry to
spread the gospel of Jesus
Christ with an emphasis
towards the Jewish people!'
At the moment, the group's
30 or so members meet on
Friday evenings at the Oak

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