defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...
Jews On First!
... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind
This page groups all of the original work we've posted. You can also find JewsOnFirst
reports and audio interviews listed in boxes in the right column of most pages and at the top of some lists of topics.
Jan Jaben-Eilon, JewsOnFirst.org, October 2, 2012
It's not easy growing up Jewish in the Bible Belt, although Jewish youth report that their Christian classmates in public high schools can often be caring - in their own way. "A lot of classmates said they'd pray for me since I was going to hell because I'm Jewish," said Hanna, now a college sophomore. "Once I was asked if I had horns or had shaved them down," recalls Jane, who attended a different public high school in the metropolitan Atlanta area. "The kids weren't mean. One said that it was so cool that I was Jewish, and asked if I was thinking about converting. Her tone changed, though, when I told her I wouldn't convert."
Another student recalled, "One of my best friends belonged to an evangelical Christian church and she tried to get me to go to church with her, not very subtlety. Just after she returned from a religious retreat, she told me that I should accept Jesus because 'I don't want you to go to hell.' I responded that I'm Jewish and that's it. She never mentioned it again. But there was another sweet girl and it got back to me that she said it was too bad that I was going to hell because she really liked me." What partly bothered this former student was the sheer "innocence" of the comment: "That's what she was taught."
All three of these former high school students were raised with a strong Jewish foundation so they were not easily tempted by the proselytizing peer pressure from the public school pupils surrounding them. But for more vulnerable, less knowledgeable Jewish youth, the attempts to draw them to Jesus can be jarring - and sometimes, even successful. Continue.
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Jan Jaben-Eilon, JewsOnFirst.org, June 4, 2012
About 200 congregants filled the stain glassed-windowed sanctuary on a Shabbat morning this spring, praying, singing and welcoming new members. Among the newly welcomed members was a young Israeli man, named Yoav. Not really extraordinary news, except Congregation Beth Hallel in a northern suburb of Atlanta is not a typical synagogue. Indeed, it is a member of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS), the largest ordaining body in the messianic Jewish movement.
Beth Hallel is only one of a number of messianic Jewish congregations in the Atlanta area – and one of some 800 messianic Jewish congregations in the world, according to Joel Chernoff, CEO of Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), up from zero in 1967. "Messianic Judaism is the fastest growing stream of religious Jewish life since 1967," said Chernoff, who said he grew up in a messianic Jewish family. Sharing his extrapolated and complicated arithmetic, Chernoff credited the Council of Jewish Federation’s 1990 National Jewish Population Survey for his belief that there are now more than one million messianic Jews. "Jews are becoming believers in Yehoshuah," he says, referring to Jesus. Continue.
Jane Hunter, JewsOnFirst.org, January 24, 2012
The Supreme Court's refusal last week to hear a case about religion in public schools that JewsOnFirst has followed for years was a resounding victory for the Jewish "Doe" family in Delaware who brought the case, and for countless families across the country. By declining to review the case, Indian River School District vs. Doe (11-569), the high court put an end to more than six years of litigation -- and to that school board opening its meetings with prayers.
JewsOnFirst brought national attention to the case with a report in 2006. The Doe and Dobrich families had filed suit the year before. They went to court after repeatedly failing to persuade the school district, in Delaware's Sussex County, to end its sponsorship of fundamentalist Christianity in the classroom and at school events. Continue.
Avi Milgrom, JewsOnFirst.org, December 9, 2011
April 26, 2010 was an important day for the Creation Museum, located just south of Cincinnati and minutes from the river city's international airport. On that day a Creation Museum staffer clipped the ticket of its millionth visitor -- one month shy of its third year. Espousing an unabashedly conservative reading of the Bible that pits religious thought against reason and established science is regarded by its detractors as a beacon for the return to the Dark Ages. The Creation Museum requires its employees to be Christians.
By November of 2010, the Creation Museum began to figure in an emerging national story. As Louisville's Business Couriers first reported, Ark Encounter LLC and the organization behind the Creation Museum, Answer in Genesis (AiG), had decided to locate a $150 million theme park on 800 acres located about 30 minutes from the museum and about 40 minutes south of Cincinnati in rural Grant County. It would be called "Ark Encounter." Continue.
Les Canges for JewsOnFirst.org, October 28, 2011
I decided to attend this event, held October 16th, at Faith Bible Chapel (FBC) as a Jewish "witness," kippah attached. I arrived early enough at the church to greet demonstrators and then entered into the atrium area where merchandise from Israel and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) was being sold.
The crowd in the FBC atrium and during the program was very friendly to me and my kippah. I engaged in many respectful conversations. The FBC's main chapel holds around 3,000 people and I would estimate that 2,900 were actually in attendance. There were some empty seats, but not many. Between dignitaries, attendees and a rough count of kippot I estimate no more than 100 Jews were in attendance. Continue.
Speical to JewsOnFirst.org, August 11, 2011
Blatant and repeated calls for Jews to accept Jesus punctuated Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Response revival meeting this past weekend. Indeed, last Saturday’s replay of the historic Christian preoccupation with the redemption of the world through Jewish conversion was in many respects a microcosm of what the event was about -- the coming together of different traditions to submit to Jesus, in an attempt to redeem not only the United States, but the world, through Jesus. As event MCs Luis Cataldo told us on numerous occasions – the Response was historic because it drew together people from different denominations and theologies for one purpose: Jesus.
The spirit of the event can be summed up by one participant who told me how happy she was to see so many young people in Houston’s Reliant Stadium: "Maybe it's indoctrination...and I'm sure it is. But it's the right indoctrination." Continue.
JewsOnFirst.org, July 29, 2011
Over this past July 17th – 20th, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) held its 6th annual Washington Summit in the nation's capital to rally its staunch, militant support for Israel. Despite the tough economic times for many Americans, and despite what appeared to be a dwindling number of participants at last year's event, according to official numbers, CUFI managed to draw a crowd of over 5,000 Christians – including over 500 CUFI on Campus student activists – from every state in the Union, as well as some international guests who made the pilgrimage to DC from overseas. Continue.
JewsOnFirst..org, May 22, 2011
When the "Rapture" or "Doomsday" predicted for May 21st by fundamentalist preacher Harold Camping became national headline news, we thought it would be useful to explore the underlying dynamics of such events. We turned to John Hubers, a professor of Religion at Northwestern College in Orange, Iowa, who observed that "doomsday soothsayers" offer structure and certainty to followers whose ranks swell in times of uncertainty. Hubers also noted the effect on many Christians of end-times novels and discussed the difference between Camping's predictions and the end times beliefs of Christian Zionist. Continue.
Avi Milgrom, JewsOnFirst.org, March 13, 2011
In November of last year, Cincinnati Jews and Christians sponsored an event to bring together Christians and Jewish supporters of Israel. The event was called "Standing Together: An Evening of Christian-Jewish Support for Israel." The focus was on why the Jewish community should welcome Christian support.
The event featured two speakers from The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (FOIGM) and the Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region in the United States, the Honorable Daniel Kutner. Master of Ceremonies was Brian Jaffee, the then director of Cincinnati's Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati; he has since become the executive director of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. Continue.
Sophia B. Rich, JewsOnFirst.org, March 6, 2011
Two months after local Jewish protest prompted Denver's Jewish Federation to "disinvite" Christian Zionist leader John Hagee, the Jewish Federation of New Mexico joined with Hagee's organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), in a public event featuring the controversial televangelist and his high profile friend and supporter in the Jewish community, talk show host Dennis Prager.
CUFI's Night to Honor Israel, billed as "the annual demonstration of solidarity for Israel and the Jewish people," took place Tuesday, January 11, at the Albuquerque Convention Center. It was the third such event to be held in Albuquerque and the first attended personally by Pastor Hagee. Continue.
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org, February 2011
In an interview with JewsOnFirst.org that will be of particular interest to congregations, Prof. Robert Wineburg, author of Faith-based Inefficiency: The Follies of Bush's Initiatives, discusses how Bush officials re-directed social welfare funds from mainline religious agencies to local religious congregations and inexperienced faith-based agencies. Many of the new recipients were unconcerned about religious discrimination and ill-equipped to respond to the problems people faced. Continue.
Haim Dov Beliak, JewsOnFirst.org, December 23, 2010
In an unprecedented response to an outcry from local Jews, the Denver Allied Jewish
Federation "disinvited" Pastor John Hagee, who was to have been the keynote speaker
at its annual Men's Event November 21st.
JewsOnFirst learned from individuals in the community that the federation's substitution of
David Brog (pictured above), the executive director of Hagee's organization, Christians United for
Israel, mollified some -- but hardly all -- of those who objected to Hagee.
We have posted three of our conversations with Jewish leaders who opposed the Hagee invitation: Melodye Feldman, Rabbi Brian Field and Rob Prince. Each discusses different aspects of the events in Denver
and, more broadly, the implications of Rev. Hagee's acceptance by American Jewish organizations. Click here.
Frances Vega, JewsOnFirst.org, December 12, 2010
On December 5, 2010, during the fifth night of Hanukah, Sinai Temple in Los Angeles called residents of the Los Angeles community to listen to a "special message" from Israel's deputy Prime Minister Moshe "Bogey" Ya'alon. The message -- and those of speakers representing sponsoring groups -- was largely focused on opposing "radical Islam" and the establishment of a Palestinian state, which
Ya'alon portrayed as a victory for "jihad."
The event was sponsored by a variety of groups on the pro-Israel right, the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Israel Christian Nexus, La Iglesia en El Camino and Arabs for Israel. Speakers from many of these organizations spoke before the deputy prime minister to emphasize his message. Continue.
Special to JewsOnFirst.org, November 4, 2010
Christians United for Israel's (CUFI) fifth annual Washington Summit, held this past July 20-22, 2010, highlighted once again the persistence and institutionalization of CUFI as the American Christian Zionist organization. As with its previous Summits, it was repeatedly emphasized that the support and love that CUFI and its members have for Israel and the Jewish people – to be sure a very particular kind of support – was based on the Biblical mandate of Christians to do just that. Of course, this is not to be dismissed as a false reason for its support. Indeed the proliferation and popularity of the "prosperity gospel" in contemporary conservative Protestantism has ensured that the repeated refrain of Genesis 12:3 (I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you) resonates among the (Christian) leaders of CUFI and its members. This is because it funnels the belief in personal "blessings" (which are almost always considered in financial terms) and national blessings (the furtherance of a conservative social agenda and American global dominance) into the ultimate investment: Israel. Continue.
By Jane Hunter, JewsOnFirst.org, October 17, 2010
Martha Schaerr, the subject of this JewsOnFirst.org video, is a stealth school board candidate, according to activists in Montgomery County, Maryland. Schaerr, critics say, is not telling voters that just a few years ago she played a major role in a bruising -- and losing -- legal battle by right-wing Christian groups to block a new sex education curriculum in the Montgomery County Public Schools. The groups primarily objected to high school lessons about homosexuality. Schaerr is also not revealing that she is on the board of the Family Leader Institute, which fights same-sex marriage and acceptance of homosexuality and appears tied to the Mormon Church.
This video, shot at a September 20th candidates forum, includes an interview with Schaerr. For previous JewsOnFirst coverage of the Christian right's fight against sex education in Montgomery County, please click here.