Hundreds of Arad residents, religious and secular alike, demonstrated last Monday against missionary activities in the city, including those targeting youth.
The demonstration was graced by the presence of the Nadvorna-Chadeira Rebbe, the Stanislav Rebbe, and the Rav of Arad, Hagaon Harav Yosef Albo, as well as by Harav Chaim Volkowitz, Rav of the Gerrer community in Arad, Harav Yinon Ilani, head of the Chen Bamidbar hesder yeshiva, United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, Harav Shamay Tannenbaum and leading officials from Yad L’Achim, the counter-missionary organization.
Harav Avraham Milstein told the protest that the missionaries are trying to attract young people by casting themselves as social workers. Once they have a personal connection, they try to get them to leave Judaism. Because the missionaries know that the youths’ parents are opposed to their plans, they instruct the young people in how to deceive them.
Missionary activities in several parts of the city – including the commercial center and at their facility on Rechov Gilad – have been either eliminated or significantly reduced by Yad L’Achim activists who warn residents of the danger of missionaries, who blew shofar and built Sukkos this year in an attempt to portray themselves as a “form of Judaism.”
Activists complain that local police continually favor the missionaries; indeed, they only allowed last week’s demonstration because the courts left them no choice. However, despite a court order, the police delayed issuing a permit for the demonstration until the last minute.
MK Rabbi Cohen addressed the demonstration, saying: “Again and again, residents of Arad have been exposed to brutal violence on the part of the missionaries. They have caused bodily injury to good Jews whose only ‘sin’ was seeking to protest the iniquity being done in broad daylight. The counter-missionaries spoke with their voices, the voice of Yaakov, while the missionaries responded with their hands, the hands of Esav.”
Yad L’Achim Chairman Hagaon Harav Shalom Dov Lipschitz revealed that the missionaries had rented apartments in Arad but were opposed by the locals, including those who are secular.