Haredi ‘rabbi’ accused of being a covert Messianic missionary


2021-04-28 09:49:42

In a unprecedented story of what seems as clandestine non secular infiltration, a “rabbi,” “scribe,” and “mohel” posing as an ultra-Orthodox Jew within the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem has lately been uncovered as an obvious covert missionary and member of the Messianic motion.

Much more extremely, that is the second neighborhood the missionary has infiltrated and the second time he has been outed. 

The person in query, Michael Elkohen, or Elk as he was born, claims nevertheless that he’s Jewish from start and that though he was a missionary within the Messianic motion left such work behind him and is at the moment a dedicated Jew. 

Elkohen has lived for the final 5 years in French Hill along with his 5 kids, and till February this yr his spouse Amanda who tragically died after a protracted sickness two months in the past. 

He labored as a Sofer Stam, or scribe, writing mezuzot, tefillin, and different holy writings, studied in yeshiva, and posed as a discovered rabbi who was nicely versed in Jewish regulation. 

Certainly, Elkohen did receive rabbinical ordination from an Orthodox US establishment known as Pirchei Shoshanim in an internet program. 

Elkohen claimed to be Jewish from start, as did his spouse, and even claimed to be a Cohen, of the priestly caste, that means that each his mom and father have been Jewish and that his father was not descendant from converts. 

He even served as a mohel and carried out brit milah (non secular circumcision), apparently for a number of child boys in his neighborhood. 

Elkohen’s three daughters attend ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov colleges, and his sons go to an ultra-Orthodox kindergarten and college. 

However on the identical time, it’s claimed that Elkohen was truly a member of the Messianic motion which believes within the basic tenets of Christianity, and a covert missionary. 

He’s by his personal admission the creator of a 2008 guide known as The Triumph of Justice about Messianic Judaism, and the creator of a weblog underneath the title Lev David about being a covert missionary. 

The Triumph of Justice is anonymously printed by MorningStar Publications with attribution given to “An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi” and “Lev David Ministries.”

MorningStar Publications belongs to the Morning Star Ministries Evangelical Christian group based mostly in South Carolina. 

In 2011, Elkohen, underneath the title Rabbi Michael, carried out an interview for MorningStar TV, in his ultra-Orthodox garb wherein he quoted from the New Testomony; known as on viewers to consider changing into missionaries in Egypt and Syria; prayed to God that the individuals of the Center East would return to Jesus, particularly to “stir the Jewish individuals to jealousy” and to “a jealousy to hunt Your face in Jesus’ title.”

In 2014, whereas finding out at a yeshiva in Beit El an investigation Elkohen was confronted by the Yad L’Achim anti-missionary group and he confessed to being a missionary each to the group and in writing to certainly one of his rabbis.

He stated nevertheless that the night time previous to writing his confession he had determined to desert his involvement with the Messianic motion and that he “selected Judaism.”

Shannon Nuszen, a former missionary who runs the Beyneynu anti-missionary group, believes nevertheless that Elkohen stays a covert missionary regardless of his 2014 confession. 

She stated that Elkohen’s aim was to not instantly start preaching and looking for to actively convert or affect Jews to show to Christianity or Messianic Judaism. 

“He ran a yeshiva for messianic Jews, was giving smicha [rabbinic ordination] to messianic Jews, and conducting weddings in Messianic communities in Israel and the US,” stated Nuszen.

“He wished to grow to be influential within the Jewish neighborhood. He was speculated to be in a spot that when God removes the blinders from the eyes of the Jews he might harvest souls and produce them to Jesus – that’s what a covert missionary is there for,” she continued. 

Beyneynu investigators observed that Elkohen ran two Fb profiles, one underneath Michael Elkohen wherein he maintained his Jewish persona and one underneath Michael Elk the place he posted as a Messianic missionary. 

Beyneynu additionally found a Fb submit by Elkohen’s spouse Amanda written in 2019 in her Fb profile underneath the title Amanda Elk. 

In it, she famous that she had wanted to pay the equal of $1,000 to get new passports for her kids for an upcoming go to to the US and made an enchantment for donations to assist her household. 

Within the submit, she included a hyperlink to an internet donations portal on the CMM World group. CMM, which stands for “Christ’s Mandate for Missions,” is a proselytising group which seeks to “make disciples of all nations, not simply converts.”

Its web site says that it has “Covert Missions” in Israel, and particularly that “We’ve a number of missionaries in Israel,” including “ These hidden troops are doing a mighty work in Israel as they’ve been strategically positioned and despatched by the Holy Spirit.”

CMM additionally seems to be related to MorningStar. 

In 2016, Elkohen’s spouse Amanda was recognized with most cancers for which she started to obtain therapy which was nevertheless in the end unsuccessful.

Amanda Bradley, a resident of Beit Shemesh, turned mates with Elkohen’s spouse Amanda by way of social media in 2015 earlier than she bought sick, and after her most cancers analysis turned more and more shut together with her.

Bradley met Michael a number of instances throughout her friendship with Amanda however says she didn’t know him nicely. 

She says he was very knowledgable within the fields of Jewish regulation, Bible and Kabala, Jewish mysticism, and did “a superb job” of coming throughout as a religious and religiously authoritative Jew, with any gaps or quirks in his private historical past and Jewish information defined away by having been secular after which changing into Jewish.       

Throughout Amanda’s illness Bradley would accompany her to physician’s appointments, went to hospital to be together with her earlier than surgical procedure and was at her aspect in hospital on the final Shabbat earlier than she died. 

It was solely sooner or later after the tip of the shiva mourning interval for Amanda that Bradley found by a community of mates that she and Michael have been covert missionaries.

Following this revelation, Bradley says she confronted Elkohen and requested him instantly if he and his spouse have been certainly missionaries. 

Elkohen admitted that he had been a missionary and got here to Israel as such, however had since left the Messianic motion and returned to Judaism.

“I came upon the day after the shiva ended, I known as him up and requested him instantly,” stated Bradley.

“He stated ‘sure, we got here to Israel as missionaries, however we did “tshuva” [repentance] and it’s all up to now’,” stated continued, including that when she requested once more about his and Amanda’s household historical past he stated “After all we’re Jewish, and we have been born Jewish.”

Bradley says that he advised her he had modified his title from Elk to Elkohen within the Inhabitants and Immigration Authority of the Inside Ministry.

Elkohen has claimed nevertheless that his household title is of Moroccan origin and that his household emigrated to the US from that nation. 

Bradley was extraordinarily upset and disturbed by the revelations and determined to delve into Elkohen’s household historical past underneath the title Michael Elk, utilizing his dwelling state of New Jersey and his date of start which Amanda had advised her as soon as to precisely determine him and his household historical past. 

Bradley started analyzing Elkohen’s household data obtainable on-line utilizing the invention by freelance journalist Judy Lash Balint that his father was William Thomas Elk who lived in Salem Nation, New Jersey, and died in 2006. 

William Thomas Elk’s funeral was carried out within the Friendship Mennonite Church the place he was a member and he was buried in Lawnside Cemetery, Pilesgrove additionally in Salem County. 

An image of his gravestone bears a picture of a cross. 

William’s father was Carl Elk who was born in Salem County in 1913, and his father was George Elk who was additionally born in New Jersey in roughly 1865. 

This lineage and the Christian religion of his father contradicts Elkohen’s claims to be descendant from the Cohen caste since even when his mom was Jewish, Cohen standing is patrilineal.

Moreover, there was no Moroccan Jewish immigration to the US within the mid-Nineteenth century when Elkohen’s ancestor George Elk was born. 

Elkohen’s declare that his mom was Jewish additionally seems false. 

Bradley discovered that Elkohen’s mom was initially known as Patricia Springer whose mom was Shirley Gertiser. 

Shirley’s mom was Bessie Knowles (Gertiser), born in 1908 and who died 1956. 

In accordance with data obtained by Bradley, Bessie Gertiser was buried within the Baptist (Christian) cemetery of Salem, in Salem County, New Jersey. 

When contacted by cellphone by The Jerusalem Publish, Elkohen hung up. When contacted by textual content message he referred the Publish to a rabbi of his by the title of Rabbi Gidon Holland. 

He didn’t nevertheless reply questions as as to if or not his father was William Thomas Elk or if his mom was Patricia Elk (neé Springer). 

Talking to the Publish, Holland stated he was sure that Elkohen was Jewish and stated the stories of him being a missionary have been “a horrible injustice” to him. 

Holland supplied what’s supposedly a duplicate of Elkohen’s non secular invoice of divorce from his first spouse issued by the Beth Din of Philadelphia. 

Holland stated he had by no means contacted the beth din as to the authenticity of the doc

An official within the Yad L’Achim group advised the Publish that it had not seen any proof that Elkohen was concerned in missionary exercise and efforts to transform Jews since his confession again in 2014. 

It stated nevertheless that there have been sure questions on him to which it’s looking for solutions, together with the truth that he had mates on Fb who have been from the Messianic motion and who appreciated a few of Elkohen’s posts.

The official stated that this was incongruous with the life of somebody who stated that they had left behind any missionary exercise. 

Nuszen says that Beyneynu believes Elkohen has at the very least 5 Messianic college students appearing as covert missionaries in different Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel which her group is presently investigating. 

“As people, and members of the Jewish neighborhood, this case was troublesome, very emotional, and required nice sensitivity,” stated Nuszen. 

“It is very important perceive that we’re not anti-Christian, however Judaism doesn’t take kindly to deception, and ‘covert’ strategies to transform our individuals. We demand honesty, integrity, transparency, and mutual respect.

“Jews have been hunted and preyed upon for centuries- compelled conversions, pogroms, Holocaust. Israel needs to be a secure haven for Jews to stay freely as Jews, and to not be preyed upon – particularly utilizing fraud and covert techniques like this.”

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