Yad L’Achim has not known such joy in a long time. Two Jewish men who years ago converted to Christianity and joined cults, last week took steps to set up Jewish homes.
The first man, we’ll call him Eren, last Sunday celebrated a L’Chaim to mark his impending marriage to a girl from one of the finest families in a chassidic community in the north of the country.
The second, Shaul, is a graduate of a yeshivah gevoah in Bnei Brak, who this week married a young woman from a family of Bnei Torah from Yerushalayim.
Both men made their way back to Judaism with Yad L’Achim’s help.
Eren discovered the “Messianic Jews” cult over the internet around a decade ago when he was searching for meaning. The cult presented its theology as a form of Judaism.
Only many years later, did he realize that most of the explanations that the missionaries brought him were taken from the Torah and the words of Chazal. But at the time he saw the missionary sites as the place to go for answers to his questions and doubts. The deeper he probed, the more he swallowed the Christian poison until he began to believe in the “new testament” and in “that man.”
After a number of years, Eren decided to leave his job at a local garage to work in an office. In the transition period, he was asked to break in another young person, Shaul, who was set to take over for him.
The training period took a month and a half, during which the two became friends. “Shaul had a religious appearance – kippah, tzizis, beard,” Eren recalls. “From time to time, he would ask me why I never showed up in shul and I explained that it wasn’t my thing. After a month and a half, when the training was about to end, I felt that we had become close friends and I shared with him that I had cut myself off from Judaism and was a Christian in every sense. I showed him my crucifix that hung from a necklace and was covered by my shirt as proof of how serious I was…
“To my great surprise, Shaul told me that three years earlier, before he became religious, he had also been a member of the ‘Messianic Jews’ cult. He told me about the transformation he had undergone, how he had came to understand that it was a total lie, and how he left the cult with the help of Yad L’Achim. He suggested that I meet with them for a theological discussion so that they could explain to me in greater depth my mistake. In my third meeting with Yad L’Achim, after many sleepless nights, I decided to dump Christianity and began believing in the G-d of Israel.”
This past week, both of these men, Eren and Shaul, closed the circle. In one 24-hour period they both substantive steps in their journey back to the Jewish people, and toward establishing faithful and kosher homes built on a solid foundation of Torah and mitzvos.
Officials at Yad L’Achim say that Shaul’s story is the bigger success. Not only was he in a cult, but he was engaged to marry a non-Jew, the daughter of a Christian preacher from one of the largest churches in the country.
Rabbi Yoav Zeev Robinson, a senior Yad L’Achim official who has been in close contact with the two over the years, commented: “Every story involving the saving of a Jewish soul from the missionaries requires complex, intensive work that can last for years. It requires us to provide a constant source of support. The joy that our organization feels at the simcha of these precious Jews knows no bounds. For me, I feel as if I married off my own children.”