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About Jewish proselytizing

by David Mendes

Many people say Jews don't proselytize because they want God only for themselves. Such assumptions are fortified by the rabbi's ideas expressed in Iorna's article.


Nevertheless, God's promise was for Judaism to reach all nations: 'In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Ye are my witnesses. I have set thee for a light to the nations' (Genesis 12:3 Isaiah 42:6; 43:10).

In the beginning, due to bellicose relations, the influence of the Jews was mainly by the example as a nation who didn't worship idols nor rob their neighbors. Many converted to Iahweh, two of which are supposed ancestors of Jesus: Rahab, the whore from Canaan, and Ruth, the Moabite.

In IX century BCE, prophet Jonah, however reluctant, did preach to the Assyrians, by God's order. With the Diaspora Jews came in contact with many peoples and large numbers were converted. It is said that ten percent of the Mediterranean followed Judaism.

There were in Jerusalem devout Jews drawn from every nation under heaven. Philip saw an Ethiopian eunuch, a high official of the Queen, who had been to Jerusalem on pilgrimage Acts 2:5,9-11;8:26-29.

And there was certainly preaching out: 'Alas for you, lawyers and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to win one convert.' Matthews 23:15.

However, when Christians gained strength, conversions to Judaism were outlawed under penalty of death. From then on Jews have been prevented from preaching, and even today in many Christian countries that pressure is felt.

Rabbis remark that from the time of Jewish expelling and until the temple will be rebuilt, no prophet has spoken, and that expresses the difficulties of the nation.

Today's elitist conservative Jews argue that Jewish missionising would antagonize Christians and lead to more anti-semitism. And they can find more reasons for not proselytizing, pointing with pride and superiority that Jews don't push their religion to others.

Fear that incoming of converts would lower the standards is just another way of boycotting Judaism. The obstruction of full conversions by the so-called Noahide laws' is shamefully racist, implying that full Judaism is meant only for Jews.

Proselytizing is a matter of self-respect for the Jews and a necessity for the world. The overall problem arises from a crisis in spirituality, and until a 'remnant' takes the courage of preaching out, it is the world that ought to be pushing from behind.


Note Mr. Mendes and Mr. Sacks don't necessarily express my view. Lewis Loflin.

Guest writer David Mendes:

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