Defeating the Darkness of Antisemitism

Shalom dear friend,

I am sure you remember or know the opening line of Charles Dickens’ 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I think the entire quote is worth reading:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

As I write to you this morning, I completely identify with these words. A certain darkness has settled upon my soul as I write with a broken heart about the repeated antisemitic attacks in the New York City area!

Like you, I was trying to enjoy the recent holiday season with my family. Yet, over the course of a few weeks, I was shocked to hear about the latest series of antisemitic attacks in New York City, where I live and where Chosen People Ministries has our world headquarters. It became a daily nightmare to discover that another attack against my Jewish people had taken place!  I suppose I was hoping they would just end once and for all!  But this is not the case.

It seems to me that our world is going mad and Satan is again freely roaming the earth as when he discovered Job! These antisemitic incidents are inspired by the enemy of our souls who seeks to destroy all that is good and holy. He has the deepest hatred for the Jewish people and the role God’s chosen people play in His plan of redemption. Every time you think the evil one is done and the Jewish people are finally safe, a new legion of Haman-like characters emerges on the world scene. This time, the demonically inspired hatred of Jewish people is perched on our very doorstep, in our land of the free and home of the brave.

Early on Sunday morning, December 28, I awoke to this headline: “Five Jewish People Attacked in a Home During the Festival of Lights.” My Orthodox Jewish friend, and someone I have grown to love and appreciate through our many debates, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, sent out an alert that his son, a Hasidic rabbi, lived five houses away from this attack. Shmuley, of course, reacted to the attack very personally. We all understand that when things like this happen, we feel horrible. But when it happens close to home, we also feel terribly threatened…and grateful to God for His protection over our loved ones.

I live in Brooklyn and my family lives in New York City and nearby areas. The Jewish community is my community and God’s chosen people, and I am sounding an alarm—an alarm that will hopefully spur us on to action and to pray for the Jewish people. We simply cannot allow this to continue without raising our voices in prayer to God and in opposition to those who are perpetrating this evil or creating the climate that encourages violent and aggressive attacks against the Jewish people.

This past summer, we held a rally against antisemitism by the courthouses in downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, and we were joined by hundreds of Christians and many Jewish people who might not have agreed with us on the messiahship of Jesus but they appreciated our willingness to stand with the Jewish community.  We are planning to take action once again and hope you will join us in opposing this “oldest hatred”— antisemitism! I will tell you what we plan to do and how you can help. But first, let me give you an overview of the events that transpired a few months ago that we are now working to counter!

Remember, the following took place within eighteen months of the killing of eleven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and since the murder of the precious Jewish woman who tried to protect her rabbi during the attack on the synagogue in Poway, California. According to Kenneth Jacobson, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, there have been thirteen arrests of white supremacists intended to attack synagogues since the Tree of Life shootings.

The Antisemitic Attacks

Allow me to list the specifics of the attacks that took place in 2019 immediately before and during the Hanukkah-Christmas season. There were many news sources reporting on the incidents, but I prefer to share information gathered locally by the New York NBC affiliate, beginning with the vicious attack at the Hasidic rabbi’s home during a Hanukkah party.

  • The Monsey home attack: Authorities say five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s home late Saturday night in Monsey, New York, “the latest and most violent in a string of antisemitic attacks in the greater New York City area in the last few days. Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel said the suspected attacker entered the residence around 10 p.m. armed with a knife. Saturday was the seventh night of Hanukkah and was being widely observed in Monsey, a hamlet that is home to thousands of Orthodox Jews.” The Hasidic organization Chabad, citing sources in the community and witnesses at the scene, said someone in the home threw a table at the attacker, chasing him off. He then allegedly tried to gain access to the synagogue next door, but the occupants barricaded themselves inside.[1]
  • The Jersey City Kosher market attack: “Authorities identified the suspects as David Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50. Jersey City Police Detective Joseph Sealswas killed Tuesday shortly before officials say the suspects attacked the store. The victims in the store were identified Wednesday by authorities as Mindy Ferencz, 31; Miguel Douglas, 49; and Moshe Deutsch, 24. According to three sources, Anderson was a one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, whose members believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites, and his social media pages include anti-police and anti-Jewish writings. Investigators are looking to see if it was Anderson himself who posted that material.”[2]
  • Upper East Side attack: “The first attack of Hanukkah was on Dec. 23 on the Upper East Side, according to the NYPD. A 65-year-old man was hit in the face with a closed fist after the suspect made an anti-Semitic remark, then was kicked while on the ground. The victim suffered cuts to his face and hand, police said.”[3]
  • Brooklyn attack: “A 34-year-old woman and her 4-year-old son were attacked in Brooklyn Thursday by someone who yelled anti-Semitic slurs and hit the mother in the head, the latest in a spree of hate during the Jewish holidays that has the community and city officials alarmed.”[4]
  • Brooklyn attack: Another attack took place in the early morning in Brooklyn “when a 25-year-old Jewish man was walking on the sidewalk when he saw a large group of people walking toward him, police said.” That man told police that members of the group yelled curses at the obviously Jewish man “before hurling a Slurpee at him.”[5]
  • Brooklyn attack: “A man in his 50s was standing in front of a building on Union Avenue in a Hassidic neighborhood when he said he saw as many as six people approach him after 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, according to police. One of the people who came up to the man punched him in the back of the head, and the group took off.”[6]

What Can We Do Together to Oppose Antisemitism?

This is a critical moment for those who love the Jewish Messiah to show the Jewish people their concern and opposition to the rise of antisemitism. Whereas we are grateful for all legislation that identifies and even defines antisemitism as illegal activity, this is simply not enough. As followers of the Jewish Messiah, we need to act now on behalf of His “kinsman according to the flesh.”

Antisemitism has been the concern of Your Mission to the Jewish People for more than a century. One of the early leaders, Joseph Hoffman Cohn, the son of our founder Rabbi Leopold Cohn, often appealed to evangelical churches in the United States in the 1930s to take a stand against antisemitism. He took many trips to Europe at that time attempting to rescue Messianic Jewish leaders from the terrible times ahead. Joseph did not know exactly what was coming, but early on recognized the serious threat to the Jewish people in Europe.

One of our ministry’s values is to “seek the welfare of the Jewish community.” We are now doing this by shining the light on modern antisemitism and calling Christians to action!

And so, we must act!

We intend to continue holding rallies in New York City against antisemitism. I also encourage you to consider initiating some type of anti-antisemitism event at your local church or in your community. We have found that Jewish people who are not yet believers in Jesus are willing to stand with our efforts to protest antisemitism. So, do not be surprised if Jewish people in your community will want to be involved with your efforts to counter antisemitism.

Chosen People Ministries would be happy to help you organize this event. It can be as simple as a prayer meeting where you invite folks from your church and the local Christian community to pray for God’s protection of the Jewish people. Contact us for additional ideas.

We are immediately launching a digital petition campaign and will continue the campaign for the foreseeable future.

We are praying that we will move at least 50,000 people to sign this petition of concern for their Jewish friends as a very tangible way of demonstrating God’s love for His chosen people. 

I cannot tell you how much your efforts on behalf of the Jewish people are appreciated. Jewish people, especially those who do not believe in Jesus, will align themselves with us in our joint opposition to the growing antisemitism in our country.

Thank you for your prayers and for your generous support to help us combat antisemitism—in the name of Jesus! Thank you so much for standing with the Jewish people and with Your Mission to the Jewish People as well. I know this will be a wonderful testimony to your Jewish neighbors.

In our Messiah,
Mitch

[1] Jonathan Dienst and Ken Buffa, “5 Stabbed at Rabbi’s Home in Ny; Suspect Charged: Police,” NBC New York, December 28, 2019, https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/mass-stabbing-at-jewish-synagogue-in-rockland-county-ny-reports/2251668/.

[2] Jonathan Dienst and Minyvonne Burke, “Jersey City Suspects Targeted Kosher Store Where 3 Died, Officials Say,” NBC News, December 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jersey-city-suspects-targeted-kosher-store-where-3-died-motive-n1099606.

[3] Erica Byfield and Myles Miller, “‘Open Season On Jews’: Outrage Over Spike in NYC Hate Attacks,” NBC New York, December 27, 2019, https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/open-season-on-jews-reports-of-anti-semitic-attacks-during-hanukkah-cause-for-concern/2250584/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Brooklyn, Jewish Christian Dialogue, Jews and Christians, New York City, Uncategorized

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