On Monday, there was left on our doorstep a small package in a white envelope. There was no address but on the top right there was a printed image of a cancelled stamp with the Star of David and Hebrew lettering on it, below which was written “Hand delivered by IRM”. On the top right where the return address would be was the same Hebrew word in larger lettering, below which was a logo of a menorah and “ISRAEL RESTORATION MINISTRIES: Hope and Gladness for the Jewish People”.
I was puzzled because although we live in a integrated community that has people of all ethnicities and religions including a significant number of Jews, I had never before received any proselytizing material from any group, apart from the inevitable visits from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and on one occasion from two Mormon missionaries. And yet on the same day I get materials from the Christian evangelical Gospel Odyssey about their lectures, I also got this from IRM.
On opening the IRM package, I saw that it consisted of a thick booklet titled “Frequently Asked Questions by the Jewish People” and a DVD that said “The Testimony of Tom Cantor: A Message of Hope and Gladness for the Jewish People”.
In reading through the booklet, I discovered that I had been mistaken. This was not a proselytization message from Jews, it was a message aimed at Jews by an evangelical Christian group. A Google search of Tom Cantor revealed that he is a Jew who converted to Christianity back in 1970 and was now seeking to persuade fellow Jews to do the same and IRM is part of his effort. It is clearly subtly targeting Jews for conversion using phrases such as the ‘Jewish Messiah’. When I first read that, I thought he was referring to something in Jewish prophecy. I had to read through quite a bit before realizing that is was just plain old Jesus. I am not sure whether this kind of somewhat deceptive approach is effective. It seems to me that Jews who read it thinking that it was aimed at informing them about their faith would be highly annoyed to find that they had been suckered into reading a Christian evangelism pitch.
I am not sure whether this sudden upsurge in proselytization by evangelical Christians in our community is a one-off phenomenon or whether they have targeted it for a sustained effort. I am not sure if Gospel Odyssey and IRM work together or it just so happened that both their materials arrived on the same day. Maybe they use the same delivery system.
It’ll be interesting to see if there is any follow-up activity.