Thousands of residents from Owings Mills and Reisterstown to as far as Silver Spring received an oversized postcard in the mail earlier this week asking the question, “Is it possible to be both Jewish and Christian?” Prominently juxtaposed to the inquiry were five distinct logos — those of Jews for Judaism, the Baltimore Jewish Council (an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore), ABC/Channel 2, WMAR-TV and the Baltimore Jewish Times. Smaller, and beside those five, was the logo for Israel Restoration Ministries, a Hebrew Christian (i.e. Messianic Jewish) organization.
A strategic partnership? Oh no. It was a hijacking of these brands and a blatant misrepresentation of quotes published by the news sites.
“This has never happened before,” said Ruth Guggenheim, executive director of Jews for Judaism. “We have definitely been misquoted in outreach campaigns, but this is the first time it has ever been done like this, and especially with other Jewish agency logos being abused, too.”
Rabbi Ron Shulman, president of the Baltimore Jewish Council, made clear his organization was not involved in the sending of the card — and neither was the JT.
Responding to the postcard — which included on its backside a message from Tom Cantor of Israel Restoration stating that “it is possible to be both Jewish (outward Jew) and a Christian (inward Jew)” — Rabbi Shulman said, “It suggests we [the Baltimore Jewish Council] are party to a conversation that is not taking place.” He told the JT that one’s beliefs are a personal choice, but that belief in Jesus goes against any normative strand of Judaism.
The card came the day before a study was released by the Pew Research Center that stated 34 percent of U.S. Jews say a person can still be Jewish if he or she believes Jesus was the messiah.
Guggenheim said that while the cards began hitting mailboxes on Monday, she assumes that more cards will drop and that her organization (like the BJC and JT), which received many calls questioning the card, will receive additional concerns from other areas.