It took a nasty rift among “Messianic Jewish” groups in Israel to get two veteran cult members to recognize that they had been living a lie – and to turn to Yad L’Achim, previously their arch enemy, for help.
The cult has been torn apart by disputes among its leaders, leading to mutual recriminations and causing at least two cult members, Jews who had been led astray, to rethink the path they had chosen.
The two, one of whom had been with the cult for 30 years, decided to contact Yad L’Achim, which has led the battle against missionaries, for answers to questions that had become more and more troubling.
“Suddenly, I began to understand that the cult is a well-oiled machine for those who are profiting on people and their faith,” said one.
“They make money at the expense of people in distress who are seeking direction,” said the other.
After questioning the motives of the cult’s leaders, the two began to look deeper at its practices. “Suddenly, I noticed that I was calling myself a Messianic ‘Jew,’ but I was a Christian in every way. There was absolutely no difference between me and the Christians who came to us.”
Added his friend: “There were stunning contradictions between the Tenach and the new testatment.”
At the instruction of Yad L’Achim chairman Rav Shalom Dov Lifschitz, a meeting was arranged between the two confused cult members and Rabbi Binyamin Kluger, a leading Yad L’Achim staffer who specializes in cults.
Rabbi Kluger, a former pastor in France who converted to Judaism, shared his personal story. “I came to Yad L’Achim not to find a job, but because I myself was a missionary and was exposed to their distortions, deceit, and the cynical way they took advantage of people,” Rabbi Kluger told them.
What disturbed the two the most, Rabbi Kluger learned, was the discovery that the heads of the cult had been secretly leading lives of luxury. They were even more startled to see the documents Rabbi Klugman produced, showing exactly how much cult leaders earn in Israel. No less shocking was documentation showing that the head of the “community,” who presented himself as a “Messianic Jew,” was a church employee from the north working as a missionary.
That was too much for the two, and they decided there and then to sever their ties with the cult and begin taking first steps back to the Jewish people.
In response to these events, Rav Lifschitz noted that Yad L’Achim had been aware of this deception for a while, but “the fact that this should come to light for these two cult members on Chanuka, when we celebrate victory over the assimilationists, gives expression to our faith that Jews will never be severed from their source. Even Jews who have been caught up with missionaries for decades can return to the faith of their fathers. It is never too late.”