Anger over missionary leaflet drive

By Jonathan Kalmus, December 18, 2008

Evangelical Christian missionaries have been targeting Manchester’s Jewish community with leaflets using religious terminology and Ashkenazi spellings to entice people to read them. Residents in Broughton Park, who have received the leaflets through their doors, are concerned about what they call the “deceptive material”.

Three different leaflets have been distributed in the past week in Waterpark Road and Roston Road. One writes of “Besuras HaGeulah” (news of redemption), “Mashiach Ben Dovid” (Messiah Son of David) and “averos” (sins) — with all the words written as they would be pronounced by Charedi Jews.

The leaflet was printed in Manchester and can be traced to the Sulam Ya’akov [Ladder of Jacob] Messianic Fellowship, whose website describes the group as evangelical. A second leaflet, printed in Canada, tells the story of a rabbi who converted to Christianity in his search for sacrificial blood. One sentence reads: “You must have blood, blood, BLOOD!”

Menachem Heimann, 22, who lives on Roston Road, said that at first he thought leaflets came from Chabad and were offering inspiration after the Mumbai attacks. But discrepancies in the spelling of certain words made him suspicious.

“It looked like proper Jewish stuff; only at the end do you realise what it’s about. They refer to Jesus as Yeshua. I think it’s despicable. It’s deceiving.”

A resident of nearby Waterpark Road said she threw the leaflet away instantly. “My 15-year-old picked it up from the porch and was curious as to what it was. They’ve obviously done their research. I think it’s appalling — not that they are targeting the frum community more than anyone else but the whole notion of it. No Jewish person should have to put up with this.”

Rabbi Elozor Stefansky of Vine Street Synagogue, who also received the leaflets, has warned parents to protect their children. He said: “They kept out any open Christian references so it’s a little bit more misleading and more professional than examples we’ve had in the past. Parents should keep an eye on it. I think they are targeting people who are firm in their beliefs.”

Pastor John Young, who leads the Sulam Ya’akov Messianic Fellowship, said: “We are building a bridge of friendship and education and using terms that Jewish people can understand. If it’s upsetting I’m sorry for that. I have a deep love for Israel. We have to be obedient to the Messiah and give the gospel message. Then it is up to people to make a decision.”

Last updated: 3:57pm, July 23 2009