Evangelical Christians living as Orthodox rabbis uncovered

"They do not deny their belief in Jesus," say investigators of the two, who posed as Jews for years and allegedly performed conversions to Judaism.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

"Undercover" missionaries
"Undercover" missionaries

According to a report by the Jewish Chronicle, a father and son practicing as Orthodox rabbis in America have been accused by anti-missionary investigators of being covert evangelical Christians.

The claims regarding M and C Fisher (not their real names) would allegedly cause disastrous halakhic problems for the Jewish community if true, given that the two men apparently wrote Torah and mezuzah scrolls, participated in ritually preparing the dead for burial, and conducted weddings, divorces, and even conversions.

The Fishers have been accepted and welcomed in a number of Orthodox Jewish communities in locations across the United States, but investigations have so far failed to uncover any evidence that they are actually Jewish – either born or converted.

An investigation by the Jewish Chronicle has revealed that M Fisher grew up in a Lutheran home and that he and his wife were married in a Lutheran wedding.

There is no evidence that the Fishers are attempting to convert Jews to Christianity, but when confronted, they refused to renounce their belief in Jesus.

The Fishers currently reside in Phoenix, Arizona. The family was based in Texas between 2014 and 2016, when M Fisher worked as a supervisor in the Houston Kashrut Association.

They have also lived as Orthodox Jews in Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee, leading prayer services in many of their places of residence and even providing religious instruction to others.

During their travels, the family succeeded in acquiring documentation from rabbinical authorities attesting to their Jewish identity without proper checks being made to ensure their claims were accurate. This has enabled them to build an identity as Jews, which anti-missionary organization Beyneynu fears they plan to use eventually to make aliyah.

Investigators at Beynenyu claim the family always move on when confronted by suspicious rabbis or fellow members of their community, in order to escape being uncovered.

According to a letter sent by investigators at Beyneynu to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, the Fisher family were questioned in the past by rabbis who had heard rumors that they are actually Christians. The letter states: “They do not deny their beliefs in Jesus and give detailed explanations regarding their belief that Jesus is the Jewish messiah.”

Suspicions were first aroused after a post appeared on the website of a known Messianic group, the Gates of Zion, announcing a Shabbat event at which the Fishers were to be present and mentioning they had previously worked with a known messianic pastor called Guy Cohen and with the ministry at which he is based, Harvest of Asher.

In email exchanges seen by the Jewish Chronicle between the Fishers and various rabbis challenging them about their beliefs and ancestry, the family insists they are not Messianic missionaries. They acknowledge having had “the privilege of working with” Guy Cohen, and describe him as a “long-time family friend” but say they were involved with “humanitarian aid.”

When pressed as to their own beliefs, they responded: “We do not reject Yeshua [Jesus] the Jewish Messiah,” adding “We have no doubts concerning the identity of the Messiah.”

However, they insisted that theirs was an “ongoing process of return” to Judaism and that they do not seek to deceive anyone.

“We do reject missionary tactics and do not support any person or organization who seeks to target or convert Jews away from the Jewish faith, heritage and birthright,” they wrote.

In an email to another individual, the two wrote that they had “left the religion of Christianity when the truth of its pagan practices was revealed to us by G-d, however, we will never reject or deny the name of the Messiah. If that means we are outcasts and alone than [sic] so be it for we know that HaShem is with us.”

The family has given a written history of their family background and Jewish involvement to various Jewish authorities, including members of a Beit Din in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leading to a meeting with the local community rabbi.

There, they presented the rabbi with a document outlining their claim to being halachically Jewish by birth, alleging that the family is originally from Finland and that they “fled Europe in 1937 through Finland to New York.” This account, however, is disputed by a close relative, who was actually approached by the Jewish Chronicle and asked to comment. The relative replied, “No, my family is not Jewish,” adding that M’s “brother is Lutheran and is married to a Lutheran minister.” However, she added that they had “got into the Jewish faith … after their wedding in a small Lutheran church.”

When told that the family was claiming that their ancestors spoke Yiddish, she laughed and said, “My father was … Swedish, they didn’t speak Yiddish – they spoke Swedish.”

An Orthodox teacher in America who wishes to remain anonymous told the Jewish Chronicle that he met the couple multiple times, and that they told him they were planning to move to Israel.

“I would have no reason to suspect that they were anything more than just sort of California-style baalei teshuvah,” he said.

He added that when the couple was later confronted by the rabbi of their community, “They disappeared virtually overnight, not telling anybody where they were going. That wasn’t normal behavior for anybody, people don’t move that way,” he noted. “Especially, stand-up, responsible people, people who have a normal job. Nobody does that.”

He believes their ultimate aim is to create a “backstory” that will allow their children to marry Jews. Ultimately, he suspects they are part of a wider plot to create a sleeper-cell of fake religious Jews in Israel: “There is some movement afoot … for some reason, they need there to be an Orthodox looking, observant, Christian body in Israel. I don’t know exactly how this fits into their Messianic scheme, or the whys, but this seems to be what they’re doing.

The Fishers have not responded to any requests for comment.