Have you ever gotten to the end of a book and wished it would go on forever, or at least another few hundred pages? Well, that’s how I felt this afternoon when I finished Rabbi Shea Hecht’s Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster, Mosaica Press. This is the revised and updated edition, written with the help of Chaim Clorfene.
Rabbi Hecht is a riveting storyteller. It took no time to read his fascinating and educational book. Rabbi Hecht had never intended to go into the profession of cultbusting, but one could say that he was born into it being from a family that never said no when a fellow Jew, even a total stranger, would ask for help.
The stories included have mostly happy endings, and they are all very different. In some cases there wasn’t actual deprogramming, cultbusting, because the Jews in trouble hadn’t been brainwashed by a cult. Rabbi Hecht explains the difference between adopting an ideology or other religion versus being sucked into a cult. Each case demands a different approach. One of the stories in the book is even of a Jewish woman married to a Christian for a decade who suddenly realized that she and her children needed to escape from her suddenly abusive and fanatically Christian husband.
Other stories are of classic deprogramming during which some of the same sort of physical and mental brainwashing techniques must be used to break the hold of the cult and enable the captive to think for him/herself and realize that they had been used and abused. The book includes information and stories about scientology, the Moonies and a variety of Christian and Messianic groups.
Rabbi Hecht makes it clear that saving Jewish souls from cults and extreme assimilation is not an easy task. It is terribly stressful work and hard not only on the families of the victims, the victims themselves but also on the people involved in this holy work and their families. When an urgent call comes in on the Eve of Shabbat or a Jewish Holiday, one can’t just tell people to wait a week or so until after the holidays… Just like in medical emergencies, doctors must leave their families, and Hecht’s staff are emergency doctors of Jewish souls.
According to Rabbi Hecht, modern communication, technology, the internet have all made it even easier for people to get snared. And it’s also harder for parents to realize what their children are being exposed to, because now they can meet the enemy at home on their computers or smartphones. Just like with any other illness, the sooner the “doctors” are called in the better the chance for a cure.
Rabbi Shea Hecht’s Confessions of a Jewish Cultbuster is a must-read and would make a great gift for anyone, including yourself.
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