Massive Rally in Arad Protests Missionary Activity03/17/2011
Hundreds of Arad residents took part in a recent rally organized by Yad LAchim to protest against the missionary center in the city which engages in misleading activities like sukka-building to trick Jews into converting out of their faith.
The rally reflected the broad spectrum of the city, drawing young and old, religious and traditional, students from the secular high school and those from the local yeshiva. The dais was graced by leading rabbis, public figures, city council members and community activists.
The rally was called to warn of the spiritual dangers posed by the missionary center and its activities.
City Council member Shlomo Moncenigo opened the evening by welcoming the huge crowd and noting that it was in the spirit of Purim, reflecting Esther’s message to Mordechai: “Go gather all the Jews.”
Harav Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hebron, spoke of the obligation of each and every person to warn of the dangers of missionaries who lay in wait seeking to entrap innocent Jews. He expressed hope that we would shortly merit to see the fulfillment of the verse, “Sinners will cease from the earth.” (Tehillim, 104,35)
Rav Lior added that missionaries were worse than terrorists, as our Sages teach that one who causes another to sin is worse than one who kills him.
The keynote address was delivered by Arad Chief Rabbi Yosef Elbo, who said that the rally was in keeping with the defensive war that our fathers and leaders have waged throughout the years. He praised the efforts of Yad L’Achim in Arad and around the country in alerting the public to the missionaries and saving Jews who have fallen in their clutches.
“The people of Yad L’Achim show great determination and consistency in their efforts, and aren’t afraid of putting up a fight,” he said. “The public owes them a great debt.”
Rav Rafael Bussi, of the Machane Yisrael Mamash congregation, began his remarks by quoting from the Lubavitcher Rebbe who many decades ago urged Arad community leaders to strengthen the forces of holiness in the city. Harav Bussi attacked the deceitful measures employed by the missionaries to lure Jews, including building a sukkah and brandishing Jewish symbols like a chanukkiya.
Harav Yinon Ilani, president of the Chen Bamidbar yeshiva and Rav of the Ben Zion kehilla, urged participants at the rally to take part in Yad L’Achim’s range of PR and protest activities, adding that the organization is “leading the camp and saving many souls in Israel.”
Harav Elkana Pinchas Anki, Rav of the city’s Beit El kehilla, recalled Jewish suffering at the hands of the Christians throughout history, including the Crusades and pogroms.
Harav Elazar Tzvi Bakshi spoke of the unscrupulous ruses the missionaries use to entrap innocent Jews and the obligation of each resident of Arad to warn his family members and friends.
Also attending the rally were Deputy Mayor Maxim Okanin, Deputy Mayor Harav Moshe Kaves, City Council member Harav Yitzchak Meir Weiss, Harav David Ehrenthrau, Harav Chaim Tovim, past chairman of the local religious council, Harav Yigael Yanai, Rav Shma’aya Tenenbaum, chairman of the local Agudath Israel branch, and Mr. Pinchas Vaknin.
The rally concluded with a slide show prepared by Yad L’Achim showing the methods the missionaries employ, together with Yad L’Achim’s successes in foiling them. In Arad, for instance, several missionary centers have been shut down, including one on Rechov Gilad and one in the tennis club for seniors in the city market, where missionaries operated under the guise of distributing food and clothing to the elderly and needy.
The evening closed with a moving call for Jews everywhere to unite in lobbying the government to pass a law that will, once and for all, ban missionary activity in Israel.