Monday, June 21, 2010

Alleged Cult Leader - Founder of Jews for Jesus

Alleged Cult Leader - Founder of Jews for Jesus
By Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - June 21, 2010

I have a cousin who is deaf who got involved with (the cult like group) Jews for Jesus when she was a teenager.

My cousin grew up in Oklahoma, and I grew up in Illinois. Because of the miles between us, I barely knew her as a child. As adults we developed a friendship do to the connection we made using the internet and AOL.

About 13 years ago I wanted to learn as much as I could about Judaism, to help my cousin

During these early years of my own learning, I volunteered time on line as a counter-missionary in Jewish chat rooms on AOL and was also a JCOMM (in AOL's Jewish Community online). Doing this type of volunteer work is what eventually lead to me going to Neve Yerushalayim (a women's yeshiva in Jerusalem) and eventually lead me to creating The Awareness Center.

At one point a rabbi involved in the counter-missionary movement donated an Art Scroll Chumash to me to give to my cousin –– in hopes of helping her learn. At the time I was told that my cousin would most likely not take the book, without the approval of Martin (Moishe) Rosen –– who was a close friend of hers. Around that same time my cousin told me that Rosen was going to be in the Chicagoland area for a high school graduation of one of his granddaughters. She told me he wanted to meet me, and asked me if I would agree. So I did.

During the 2 1/2 hour meeting (at an upscale hotel in Skokie), Martin Rosen went on and on about how he started Jews for Jesus. He told me that it was originally an idea he had for a project for a marketing class he was taking back in the late 1950's. He told me that he had no idea that his idea would take off the way it did. When I asked him about the Chumash, he told me it was "treif", and did not want to encourage my cousin to read it. When I offered it to my cousin she took it.

As the months went on, my cousin began disclosing her own child abuse (over the years she's became public with her history, which can be found on the internet). As she began to disclose her past, I started to discontinue trying to persuade her to rethink her religious beliefs.

As survivors we all need to realize that we need to find things to help us heal. Though her views are different then mine, she deserves the right to choose what is helpful to her –– to make it through the day. She needed to find her own answers to make sense of the insanity she grew up with. I honor and respect my cousin for being able to survive and to grow into the beautiful person she has become.

What I do want to say is that it saddens me a great deal to know that one of the major things that pushed my cousin over the edge -- of not wanting to learn about "real" Judaism, came from the hands of a few Torah observant Jews in NYC. I say this because Martin Rosen was pretty smart. He set her up.

Martin Rosen knew that if his people would send her to various locations in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, that he could count on the fact that orthodox Jews would spit at her and use possible physical force against her, when they saw the literature she would handout regarding his organization. You have to understand, my cousin was in her late teens - early adulthood. She knew nothing about Judaism when she was sent by Jews for Jesus to New York to prothelytize. All she knew was how Rosen would demonize those from the Torah observant world. She was basically told that only "completed" Jews behaved civilly. Handing out his literature would prove his point. Besides being very young and deaf, my cousin is under five feet tall. Can you imagine how scared she must have been when her own people attacked her?

If only those who assaulted her back in the 1980's, knew her history, I'm sure they would have treated her differently, and perhaps she would have been more open minded in learning more about "real" Judaism.

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