Shalom in His grace. Thank you for your prayers and faithful support of Chosen People Ministries. Your generosity is deeply appreciated!
One of the passages of Scripture that I find to be moving and encouraging is found in Romans 10, where the Apostle Paul speaks of Jewish people who were faithful to God and to the law. Of course, Paul’s argument is that even though a person might try to keep God’s law, it is simply impossible to do so! He writes,
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:1-3)
The Jewish apostle to the Gentiles is explaining to his readers that, no matter how righteous or holy one looks on the outside, God looks at the heart, and, as Scripture teaches over and over again, the hearts and souls of men and women are tainted by sin and thereby unable to please God with human effort alone (Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 17:9). This is the glory of the Gospel: that God sent His only Son, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus the Messiah died for us (Romans 5:8).
REACHING THE MOST UNREACHED WITHIN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
My heart especially goes out to a particular group of Jewish people who live in Brooklyn, the greater New York/New Jersey area, Jerusalem, and in many major Jewish population centers around the world. This group of people is commonly known as ultra-Orthodox and include those we usually refer to as “old-style Orthodox,” dressed in long black coats, with beards, long side curls, and women all wearing long skirts.
There is another name for this group of Jewish people. In Hebrew, they are called “Haredim.” In English, this means the trembling ones, as they are said to live lives trembling before God. The Hebrew word is drawn from Isaiah 66:2, where the prophet writes, “…to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
NUMBERS AND NEIGHBORHOODS
There are approximately 15 million Jewish people in the world today, and about 2 million of them may be classified as Haredim. This group of Jewish people resists contact with the outside world, dresses distinctively as mentioned above, maintains a strong community that is founded upon the very traditional Orthodox version of the Jewish faith, and has lots of children! The children do not go to regular schools but rather attend what is known as a Yeshiva, a Jewish parochial school. There are schools for boys and schools for girls, for younger and older children. Many current Haredim do not attend college. Instead, the men continue to study the Bible and Jewish literature through their mid-20s and then continue to seriously study even while working at their jobs.
As Paul wrote, they have a zeal for God, and this group of Jewish people clearly does have a zeal for God that is impressive. They are awaiting the coming of the Messiah who they believe will fulfill the prophecies found in the Old Testament, but they do not believe that the Messiah will be God, as Jewish people traditionally do not believe God is triune. Of course, Messianic Jews do believe that Jesus is God in the flesh and that God is three persons—co-eternal, co-essential, co-equal—but in truth, this is viewed as idolatry by the Haredim and by most traditional Jewish people. They believe the coming Messiah will bring the Jewish people back to God, restore the Temple, and fulfill all of the promises of Moses and the prophets in establishing His kingdom in the Holy Land with Jerusalem as the capital.
How is it possible for our hearts not to long for the salvation of the Haredim? They are my neighbors in Brooklyn and I pray for their salvation. There are very few Haredim who profess faith in Jesus, as those who do are usually treated as outcasts by their community and families. It is so difficult for a Jewish person from one of these communities to follow the Lord and to stand for Him in the midst of their community.
A TRAINING CONFERENCE DESIGNED TO REACH HAREDIM
We just finished a week long conference at our Feinberg Messianic Center located in the heart of one of the Orthodox Jewish areas of Brooklyn. This was the first conference on how to reach the Haredim that we know of since the Holocaust. I gave a lecture on what missions to the Jewish people have done in the past to reach these folks. My wife, Zhava, taught on the history of the ways in which the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement came into being and how so many of them ended up in Brooklyn!
We had sessions on what is currently being done to reach Haredim with the Gospel and had many discussions on the development of strategies and new tools for evangelism. We also walked the Hasidic areas of Brooklyn and had a time of prayer that was very meaningful. It was a great time and I believe that in the future we will do a lot more to reach the Haredim.
I was raised “Modern Orthodox.” so of course I went to synagogue and learned Hebrew and how to understand the Scriptures, etc. However, my family was very different from those who live the “Haredi” lifestyle. There is an excellent movie out now entitled, One of Us (you can look it up on YouTube), which describes the lives of those who have left the Haredi community. It will help you to understand and pray for this group of people as it tells the story of those who have left the community in order to live a more “normal” American way of life.
REACHING THE ULTRA-ORTHODOX
Again, I wish I could tell you that there were many Haredim who have come to know the Lord, but really, there are just a few. When they come to faith they often lose their families and jobs and are rejected by the community. Of course, the Haredi community does not understand the Gospel. They do not realize that Jesus and His first disciples were all Jewish. They think Jesus founded a new religion called “Christianity” that has persecuted the Jewish people throughout the centuries. They feel threatened by the “Christianity” they have heard about and know very little about the true Gospel and the real Messiah—Jesus!
Most Haredim have never heard the Gospel. I would be surprised to find out if any Haredim actually know Gentile Christians, as they remain in their community for life, work, education, and even for shopping, since they must have the highest level of kosher foods available.
OUR PLAN AND YOUR PARTNERSHIP
We are planning to do more outreach among the Haredim in 2018! We will be utilizing social media and more public types of advertising — in Yiddish— which is the language that most of them speak. I cannot describe in detail what we are planning because I know that many within the Jewish community read our letters. So, please pray that what we are planning in 2018 will be fruitful and well received.
I can tell you that the strategy will be focused in the New York area and that many who are part of our Brooklyn staff will be involved in implementing the strategy and follow-up with those showing interest in the Gospel.
Your prayers for ministries in Brooklyn, where there are almost 1 million Jewish people, are deeply appreciated. Perhaps as much as a third of these Jewish people would be classified as Haredim. God is blessing Chosen People Ministries on every front —in New York City, Israel, and in the 15 other countries where we minister to the Jewish community. We could not do this without you!
Your brother in the Messiah,
Dr. Mitch Glaser
President of Chosen People Ministries