They’re back. No, not the cicadas — although, for many, the obnoxious cyclical insect may be just as aggravating.
For the second consecutive spring, missionaries dispatched and trained by Israel Restoration Ministries (IRM) are blanketing the Baltimore-metro area with DVDs and booklets aimed at persuading Jews to accept Jesus as their lord and savior.
IRM was founded by California businessman Tom Cantor, a former Jew.
Ruth Guggenheim, executive director of Jews for Judaism, the Baltimore-based counter-missionary organization, told the JT that her office has already fielded multiple reports from concerned citizens — mostly in the Pikesville area — detailing interactions with young, modestly dressed women who are combing Baltimore’s Jewish neighborhoods and distributing their paraphernalia.
The proselytization effort takes place in major cities throughout the U.S. with discernable Jewish populations.
While the DVD, which recounts Cantor’s journey from being born Jewish to discovering his connection with Jesus Christ, is the same as last year’s, Guggenheim noted that the booklet is redesigned to specifically target Jews through Hebrew scriptures and Torah references. The packet is entitled “Frequently Asked Questions By The Jewish People.”
The content, Guggenheim said, is particularly dangerous in the hands of those with limited knowledge of Judaism.
“If people don’t know the Torah, they can really be taken for a loop with this. That’s why education is critical,” Guggenheim said.
When interacting with a missionary — most go door-to-door and break the ice by asking general questions about God — Guggenhiem advises to politely refuse their material and refrain from engaging in conversation. Even holding a brief discussion, she said, can lead to the missionary jotting down a resident’s address and flagging it for future interactions.
“Don’t humor them,” Guggenheim said. “Anytime someone talks to them, they consider that a success. … If we willingly take the packets and get into debates, they look at that as a quantifiable statistic that they can take back to their funders and mentors.”