Shock in Jerusalem community as ‘rabbi’ outed as undercover Christian missionary

Times of Israel:

Family has been supported by ultra-Orthodox community after mother died of cancer, father worked as scribe and mohel; investigators say they faked being Jewish to move to Israel

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood was in shock on Sunday after a prominent member of the community was reportedly outed as an undercover Christian missionary.

Beyneynu, a nonprofit organization that monitors missionary activity in Israel, said Sunday that it had been “investigating the case of a covert missionary in French Hill for many years,” but had acted to expose him now “due to one of the missionary’s children proselytizing in school.”

Hebrew media said the man, who was not identified publicly, had posed as a rabbi and a kohen (priest) and worked as a scribe and a mohel, conducting ritual circumcisions.

However, it was discovered that the family was actually not Jewish, but from a Christian family from New Jersey in the US, and had reportedly forged documents to show they were Jewish in order to emigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

“We are confident that the Jewish leaders will act strongly against this threat, and quickly put protective measures in place to protect the Jewish community,” Beyneynu said.

The ultra-Orthodox website Behadrei Haredim reported that when the man’s recently deceased wife became ill with cancer several years ago, she told friends some things that did not make sense to them and sparked the investigation.

The wife had reportedly falsely claimed to be the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

Investigators discovered that the family’s parents in the US were not Jewish and were posting missionary material on social media, the paper said. The man’s late father was buried in a non-Jewish cemetery. An obituary identified him as a member of the Friendship Mennonite Church.

Beyneynu said it had “taken great care in verifying each piece of evidence before exposing this case to the public,” but did not detail the evidence.

“Until now we kept it quiet because we did not want the father to move to another neighborhood (to carry on his work,) and we wanted to work to get his citizenship revoked,” Yoni Kayman, a community member involved in the investigation, told Behadrei Haredim.

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