A rabbi in an ultra-orthodox Jewish group in Israel has been accused of being a "covert" Christian missionary, a report says.
According to Christian Headlines, the accusation was made by Beyneynu, an organization that aims to "be proactive in confronting missionary influence and movements in the Jewish homeland."
The charges have been leveled after one of the family's children allegedly mentioned Jesus at school.
Yoni Kayman, a member of the French Hill group who was made aware of the years-long investigation, said they didn't initially reveal the Rabbi and his family because they "did not want the father to move to another neighborhood [to continue his work], and we wanted to get his citizenship revoked," states a report in Church Leaders.
According to The Times of Israel (TOS), Beyneynu called the Rabbi and his family a "threat" and hoped Jewish leaders would quickly excommunicate him from the community despite failing to provide any evidence of their claims.
The Rabbi, according to the outlet, told channel 13, a local Israeli news channel, that "it's a lie" and that he had "repented" years ago of doing missionary work. The organization also alleged that he was born in America, but the Rabbi insisted that he was born a Jew.
Only identified as Michael, the Rabbi is reportedly from a Christian family in New Jersey. His late father was buried in a non-Jewish cemetery. Rumors said that he presided over Christian weddings and had ties to a Mennonite congregation.
The community was reportedly shocked upon learning that the man is not an ultra-Orthodox rabbi. TOS says that the people have raised tens of thousands of dollars to help the Rabbi's wife when she got ill and that they have even shouldered their groceries and other bills. They felt that the Rabbi's action was deceptive.
Michael served as a rabbi, priest, scribe, and even a mohel in that community, performing circumcisions. According to Beyneynu, his children attended Orthodox schools and were "co-conspirators" in the ruse. The organization made its investigation public only after a daughter recently slipped when she mentioned Jesus to a classmate.
Why It's Scandalous to the Jews
The scandal is exacerbated by Israel's anti-proselytizing laws, which prohibit other religions from conducting missionary work in the country. Most of these laws deal with giving or receiving money to encourage conversion, however.
There is no law that stops preachers from proselytizing, nor a law that forbids them from going about their work. However, the Israeli government strictly monitors missionaries, and the leaders of the local churches are said to generally dislike missionary work in their homeland.
Beyneynu, on the other hand, is opposed to missionary work. On its website, the party despises Christianity and it denounces Israeli organizations that collaborate with Christian missionaries, claiming that this is an issue for Israel. Additionally, the pace at which Jews are converting to Christianity, according to the group's "boundaries" page, is "alarming."
Christian missionaries, according to Beyneynu, are "targeting vulnerable Israeli populations."
"It is both naïve and misleading to deny the serious consequences of Israel's unregulated relationship with impassioned evangelical Christians," the organization concludes on its boundaries website.