«Jewish Observer»
August 2002
5762 Elul

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June 2, 2002 the first volume of the "Dead souls" marked its 160th anniversary. That very day the sect "Jews for Christ" stopped its "evangelizing campaign" held in Kiev over a month. What unites these two events? The answer is simple - Chichikov's laurels are not alien to today's hunters for human souls. For almost a month people in blue shirts with strange inscriptions were standing near metro stations calling on passers-by to take leaflets (members of the sect called them "treatises"). No little money of foreign sponsors was noisily spent on the action insulting religious feelings of both Jews and Christians. The thesis of Christ being Messiah runs counter to basics of Judaism and is, consequently, unacceptable for Jews. Religious Jews are perfectly aware that those Jews who nearly two thousand years ago recognized Christ their Messiah broke with Judaism and ceased being part of the Jewish nation. This is the reason why the overwhelming majority of Jews today cannot share a doctrine of "Jews for Christ" and regard the activity of this sect as anti-Semitic, directed at assimilation and disappearance of Jews as a nation. The Ukrainian capital enjoys a one thousand year old official history of Christianity to be increased to almost two thousand if the arrival of St. Andrew the First Called is considered. The Kiev Christians could find it offensive to hear their faith is not correct and that only "Jews for Christ" will teach them a "correct" faith. Besides, can religious questions be solved near metro stations? Only charlatans and "thimblers" feel at ease there. Can we picture a Rabbi, Orthodox or Roman Catholic priest or mullah in the role of such fair barkers? And why namely "Jews for Christ", not "Chinese for Christ" or "Tatars for Christ"?

As for as I can judge, neither Jews nor Christians are interested in the religious doctrine of sectarians. Consequently, there is no need in discussing their dogmas. We live in a free country. Any citizen of Ukraine is entitled to professing any religion or to being an atheist. I do not call in question freedom of religion, but I think it necessary to remind we should respect religious feelings of our compatriots. Freedom of worship terminates the moment sectarians take to streets with leaflets and placards offending religious feelings of other people. Moreover, they stir up, deliberately or not, inter-ethnic and inter-religious discord. I've already heard the Ukrainians say Jews intend to privatize Jesus, offend Orthodox faith, behave unworthily. Rousing religious and interethnic enmity in the city is a direct effect of the actions planned by sectarians.

Jews have nothing to do with the activity of the sect "Jews for Christ" and do not wish to be answerable for their actions. We do not enter into religious debates with the "Jews for Christ" though we constantly experience pressure from their preachers hunting for Jewish souls. The attitude of Jews towards similar sects around the world is known to be utterly negative. Attempts have been made in different countries to forbid their activity as anti-Semitic. State of Israel does not recognize the right of members of this and alike organizations to repatriation, as well as their being Jews. The city Jewish community could not remain passive in this dangerous situation. People of all our organizations, chiefly the youth, revealed their readiness to stand next to distributors of sect's leaflets and offer our ones to those concerned. We informed that the Kiev Jewish community has nothing in common with "Jews for Christ", as the latter is not a Jewish organization and that the Jews respect a religious choice of the people of Ukraine and want to also have the right to honor the faith of their fathers.

Our explanatory campaign was organized and coordinated by the "Magen League" ("Shield" in Hebrew) - an independent organization created by Ukraine's Jewish communities and organizations for protection from a missionary threat. Our volunteers worked under the slogan "You have the right to know the truth" and "Stop to missionaries!". Unlike the sectarians, we account for tens of thousands in Kiev and would have been able to advance ten our leaflet distributors against each one of theirs. But we did not want unnecessary ado. We had only one task - to explain to everybody that both ideas and practice of sectarians are far from Judaism, whereas they themselves in no way represent the Jewish community.

We were monitoring the activity of sectarians in the city streets: we recorded dates and places, duration of their "work", the number of distributed leaflets, of contacts with people concerned. We worked every day. That's why it was strange to read in the Internet site "Jews for Christ" reports on a million of distributed leaflets and on other "achievements" as well as, to see photos of our distributors taken from the back and passed off as their own ones. Additions to reports should also, in a way, correspond to reality, though these are already problems of action's sponsors and masters. They are to assess its efficiency, as well as honesty and conscientiousness of its participants and leaders. 62 Jews and 343 Christians won over by the sect - is it much or little? From the Jewish point of view - each human soul is an entire universe. But the soul of a man recruited by the sect is a dead one.


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