Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jew for... WHAT?!


For Erev Nativ last Tuesday night, we were told that we would be having a guest speaker who was going to discuss with us potential issues on college campuses next year. There was speculation that it might be about Israel advocacy, anti-Semitism, or general Jewish life. But it’s always the best when it comes as a surprise.

Yossi introduced the program, immediately explaining the seriousness of Jews for Jesus and undertsanding their role on college campuses. He explained that Mitch Goldberg, the director of Jews for Jesus from New York, was going to speak to us. Then he told us that they wanted a rabbi to come speak with him, but most rabbis he asked rejected the request because they felt it would give legitimacy to the speaker. Instead, Rabbi Tuviya Singer would be willing to speak afterwards.

The dude walks in wearing a Jews for Jesus shirt sported by a jacket. He gives us a sentimental introduction to his background, about he grew up Jewish and went to Hebrew school, and at college his roommate showed him a copy of The New Covenant and at first thought it was bull but then bought into it… he showed clear ignorance of our tradition, quoted the generic bogus verses from the Bible that supposedly allude to Jesus, asserting Rabbinic Judaism as being false. Soon enough he opened the floor to questions, and people started challenging him in no time. A tactic he used was asking people their names and addressing them by name as he spoke. Some of the questions showed a little ignorance on our part, but people generally asked good questions. Seth asked the first question, I believe. While I don’t recall exactly what he asked, the answer entailed Mitch asking Seth if he observes all of the laws in the Torah perfectly (the answer being “no”) and then Mitch defined that as being a sinner (immediate reference to Rabbi Roth’s talk made as a joke, see above post), and best of all, Mitch told Seth that if it would be okay, he was going to pray for Seth to find the path to Yeshua and not sin or something along those lines. Jesse was setting next to me and raised the point that we derive rabbinic authority from the Torah. While Mitch tried to avoid the issue by claiming that he should cite a verse and that he’s never seen that before, I tried backing Jesse up, but I was sort of ignored, until Sender started asking a question and then pointed across the room to me to take the floor. I chose to go back to Jesse’s point and quoted “she’al avicha v’yagedcha, z’keincha v’yomru lach” – ask your father and he’ll inform you, your elders and they’ll tell you,” Deuteronomy 32:7. He started giving me a bogus answer and then sort of cut off the conversation saying he had to go and such.

Then he leaves. Yossi introduces Rabbi Tuviya Singer. A man with the same face but a kippah, dress shirt, and tie walks in. That entire time, the ignorant brain trying to sell us Jews for Jesus actually knows Hebrew and works for Jews for Judaism, trying to simulate what a situation with a Jew for Jesus might be like. He applauded my use of the Bible. His shtick went through not only Jews for Jesus but missionary groups in general and explaining the tactics they used. A very worthwile evening, I must say.

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