By Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, Executive Director and Founder of JewsforJudaism.org
There was shocking news out of Israel this week. Members of the Jewish community were rightfully concerned about Orlando-based “GOD TV” receiving a seven-year license to broadcast their TV programs in Israel.
Although there are already numerous Christian programs available on Israeli cable TV, this one is different because GOD TV’s “Shelanu” channel will be exclusively in Hebrew with content directed at Jews.
A spokesperson for GOD TV praised the decision to grant them a license as a historic accomplishment that will give a voice to the missionary work of hundreds of messianic (Hebrew-Christian) groups operating in Israel.
The messianic movement shares similar Christian evangelical beliefs with “Jews for J”; however, their leaders are called “rabbis,” and their congregational churches are called “Messianic Synagogues.”
Despite rejecting historical rabbinic Judaism, they utilize rabbinic traditions to give themselves an air of legitimacy. This approach has attracted hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide, many of whom are intermarried and find it convenient to mix Christianity and Judaism together. Sources estimate that 30,000 Israeli Jews are part of this movement.
There is no doubt that GOD TV’s Shelanu channel has an agenda to proselytize and convert Jews to Christianity.
Ward Simpson, the head of GOD TV, stated that they intend to “take the gospel of J into the homes and lives and hearts of the Jewish people.” This program will reach young and adult Jews with “the message that J is the Jewish messiah and savior.”
This missionary activity is especially serious during a pandemic when Jewish individuals are more vulnerable because they are homebound, lonely, and glued to their TVs and devices.
The fact that GOD TV, while describing the Shelanu program, intentionally avoids mentioning that they believe Jesus is God demonstrates that they have adopted a deceptive strategy implemented by the founder of Jews for J. By avoiding mention of J’s divinity —a belief rejected by all denominations of Judaism— they camouflage their Christian message to make it more palatable to Jews.
For years, missionaries have used social media to reach Jews in the privacy of their homes. This tactic has proven to be more effective than standing on street corners or knocking on doors.
It’s no wonder that every week more than 20,000 people turn to Jews for Judaism’s website, YouTube channel, and social media outlets. Our dynamic education resources provide answers to missionary claims and an inspirational and relevant approach to Judaism.
Jews for Judaism has formally protested to the Israeli government and requested that they reconsider and reverse the decision to grant these deceptive missionaries access into the homes of hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
The Israeli Communications Minister David Amsalem has already expressed his opposition to GOD TV’s missionary programing, saying it was an “oversight” and called for a “ thorough investigation of the issue.”
The Jewish community must stand together to build a strong Israel, and simultaneously keep Jews Jewish.