A recently renovated building in the heart of Tel Aviv that claims to be a soup kitchen and free coffee shop for down-and-outers is a front for missionaries, Yad L'Achim has learned.
The facility on Shlomo Street, not far from Tel Aviv's old central bus station, distributes food and other basic necessities to the needy every Tuesday. Among the dozens who can be seen standing in line are many immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, who are particularly vulnerable to the missionaries because of their lack of Jewish education.
The three-story building also houses a professional recording studio used to record missionary songs in Hebrew.
In their internal publications, the missionaries openly acknowledge the real purpose behind the facility, known as the Gospel Cafי. "Recently, we opened a messianic center in Tel Aviv, a building with thee floors with a meeting hall for classes and an industrial kitchen that serves as a soup kitchen," writes one missionary. "Once a week, we run a coffee house that draws 150 people. There is a very nice atmosphere, with free coffee and good music. Our staff speaks with the guests and invites them to come the next day to the Hebrew-speaking messianic congregation."
An unsuspecting visitor to the soup kitchen reported that at the end of the meal he was asked to join with the others in blessing J. and that the tables sported copies of the "new testament."
"Our goal," the missionaries say unabashedly, "is that this new community will grow by informing, and that the Gospel Cafי will be a vital part in this growth. Our Russian community also meets at the center. We have meetings in two languages."
A senior missionary speaks of his activities at the center with pride and undisguised emotion: "My wife and I are part of the Russian-speaking Messianic congregation in Tel Aviv, which is growing tremendously. About 150 people attend the worship services, which meet at the center; many of them volunteer in maintaining the center and participate in the soup kitchen ministry. We are busy at the center practically every day with worship services, the soup kitchen and the Gospel Cafי. We are doing a lot of practical outreach and have developed a network of volunteers.
"We invite them to stay for free in rehab, and slowly but surely they learn about J. I go from table to table, meeting people and befriending them. So far we have 10 young believers being discipled and planning to be baptized."
The missionary center boasts a photo album highlighting its activities. It includes one picture of a soldier, in the service of the missionaries, presenting certificates of merit to elderly Holocaust survivors. These pictures show how both soldiers and survivors are being led astray, unwittingly participating in missionary activities under the guise of providing humanitarian assistance.
Yad L'Achim chairman Rabbi Dov LIpschitz expressed outrage at the audacity of the missionaries operating under false pretenses in the heart of Tel Aviv and reiterated his call for effective legislation to stop them.