A former member of Jews for Jesus has warned that missionary Christians are creating a “spiritual holocaust in our communities” by converting Jews.
Julian Ciss told an audience at Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue how he had been recruited and later converted by the organisation.
He explained how he was approached by an evangelical Christian at a college art fair in his native Canada, and after beginning a relationship with the woman started attending her church.
At the age of 25 he went to a missionary service in Toronto and was greeted by what he thought was a traditional Jewish scene. He said: “Along the walls there were pictures of Chassidim and Jerusalem. There was an aron kodesh with a Torah scroll. They sang Jewish songs. They were clapping and dancing. It was emotional.”
Mr Ciss said missionary groups adapt Jewish terminology to confuse converts. A baptism, for example, becomes a mikveh service, and Jesus is renamed “Messiah Yeshua”.
“The Christian tells you that you will stay a Jew and be more Jewish than ever and will fulfil your potential as a Jew. They really make a strong case. It’s a very powerful presentation.”
As he became more involved in the movement, Mr Ciss prepared leaflets, became a public relations manager and began teaching younger converts.
He said it had been at this point he noticed flaws in the group’s ideas and began reading Jewish texts to reacquaint himself with his upbringing.
After discussing his concerns with an Orthodox rabbi he left the movement and began to educate others about what he had seen, setting up in 1985 the Jews for Judaism group in order to counter the activities of missionaries.
Rabbi Raphy Garson, of event organisers Hertfordshire Learning Experience, said: “Missionaries are after the Jewish soul. All Jewish areas have missionaries preying on the community.”