I picked up a close friend of mine from the airport today. We took a cab to Jerusalem and as had been the case 5 months ago when I returned to Israel and had to take the same kind of cab to the capital, a messianic was there for the ride.

Certain things stand out about these people right away: the girls dress modestly albeit in colorful dresses, the guys obviously don’t wear kippot or tzitziot, and they seem carried away in their own world of thoughts. They tend to be boisterous when in groups, but like any segment of the population, messianics are often difficult to pinpoint.

Maybe it was the fact that I struck up a conversation with the my friend as soon as we got in the cab, or maybe this particular messianic was just the quiet, interspective type, but she didn’t make much of an impression on me. I seriously considered her to be a religious Jewish girl probably coming to Israel to study at a seminary. I was wrong.

We ran into Y. again (she’d been dropped off in an “interesting” neighborhood–interesting in that I’d never visited it before) upon emerging from an interview I had in an alley off Yaffo Street near the shuk. My friend started a conversation with Y. by pointing out that “Jerusalem has a way of connecting people”–or something of that nature. The girl agreed and we continued talking for the duration of the next half hour while passer-byers gawked at this interfaith dialogue/spat (depending on whether it was me or my friend leading the attempt to bring the poor girl to her senses).

I have a way of talking to these people that brings me right to the point: “Yoshke was a false messiah like so many in our history. I’ve read the sources you claim to prove he was something out of the ordinary and had he really been, that would have been great. Only he wasn’t. He didn’t bring peace to the world. On the contrary, his disciples have plagued society with constant warfare and needless bloodshed. Contrary to your claims, he didn’t ressurect the dead. He may have been from the Davidic dynasty but if he did one thing it was to desecrate the Temple and attempt to embarass the highest Talmudic authorities of the time.”

“If you want to base your argument on a few verses from Genesis, Deuteronomy and Isaiah, I can in term prove each one of these wrong. Take Genesis 26 (which they almost always use): “And G-d said, “Let us make Man in Our image…” Rashi skillfully explains away the seeming contradiction with Christians have used to perpatrate defamotory propaganda campaigns against the Jewish people ever since the Church began spreading its dogma across the Roman empire.”

I have several porblems with messianics: both the individuals and their movement as a whole. They attack (this is the right term) weak individuals; Jews from broken homes, depressed teens tormented by their peers or their parents trying to find a warm home. Why do they pick on the weak? Simple! No Jew with a basic understanding of Judaism/Jewish history and a loving home would ever fall for the nonsense these people preach. I mean folks, when you try to prove that G-d is not a physical being and that he impregnated a Jewish virgin, well then I’d say you need to see a qualified physician. That’s one thing.

The other thing is that they’re a cancer literally in our midst. They parade around claiming to be “Jewish” or–as happens all too, “more Jewish than Jewish.” Kind of a perverted idea, no!? I mean, my family was persecuted for being Jewish, we observed certain cultural practices secretely, tried to leave the USSR to no avail and finally left empty-handed because we were Jewish and here you are telling me you’re “more Jewish” than me!? Some kinda hutzpa, but yeah, I know you’re doing it because you love me and want to save my soul….Yeah….

So yes, halachically a Jew once born a Jew always remains a Jew, but personally, I don’t consider messianics “Jewish” and there are considerations for this approach as well. The general practice for these people is to continue telling the world (and the State of Israel where many of them live without any fear of persecution contrary to what you’ve been told) they’re “Jewish” after having been Baptized. Y., the girl we met today, told us she’d been baptized but that “it was no different from having been immersed in a mikveh.” Really? Think again! Baptism is definitley not the same as immersion in a mikveh. The idea is stolen from Judaism but applied for much different purposes.

So are they really “Jewish”? Are these lost, mistaken individuals on the same level as my brothers and sisters in Judea and Samaria who put their lives on the line every day thanks to their belonging to the Jewish people? I’d like to think there’s an intricate difference between the two. What they are (and this has been the terminology adapted by anti-missionary groups) are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” How do they do it? By pretending to associate with the State of Israel, by being “Zionists”, by studying Hebrew; basically doing what good, faithful Jews do. And they’re influence is growing. The girl we talked to today claimed messianics were gaining popularity in Israel. Let’s hope she’s wrong but let’s also prepare for the worst-case scenario. It’s all good and dandy till one day your son or daughter falls in love with one of these “alternative Jews.” Is that any better than them dating an Arab!? Would you want to prevent this from happening?

My problem with messianics stems not only from a long personal history of conversion attempts I’ve been a target of, but also the realization that my people are in danger. The messianics have already accomplished what the Catholic Church failed by infiltrating the very fabric of our community. I believe that the Israeli government can and should take much sterner action against messiancs by outlawing their activities in order to eventually extradite them from Israel. Your thoughts (not messianic rubbish) welcomed….