Chosen People Ministries, a Hebrew Christian missionary group, has spent $2.1 million to acquire a building and nearly $1 million more on renovations to construct an 11,000 square-foot missionary center in the heart of Flatbush. It will house a “synagogue,” sefer Torah, classrooms, and a dining hall – all with the intention of attracting the general Orthodox community and particularly unaffiliated local Jews and adults at risk from frum homes who have abandoned Yiddishkeit or are on the fringe.
Vulnerable Jews will be invited for deceptive Shabbos and Yom Tov meals and services. Will they join? Who would turn down free meals and a warm, friendly, and welcoming atmosphere?
The missionary center makes it clear in its promotional material that Jews in Brooklyn are their prime targets, because there is little or no kiruv going on in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is the only metropolis in North America without an all-encompassing kiruv center. Denver, Colorado, for instance, has a tiny fraction of Jews compared with Brooklyn – and yet Denver has three kiruv centers.
Brooklyn Jewish Xperience (BJX) is at the forefront of outreach, catering to Brooklyn’s non-observant and less observant Jews. Almost 70 percent of Brooklyn’s Jews are non-observant proportionately there are more non-observant Jews in Brooklyn than anywhere else in America.
Every day BJX works around the clock, engaged in inreach and outreach, teaching Torah and Judaism to those born in secular families as well as young adults who were raised in religious homes but grew disenchanted or felt disenfranchised. Brooklyn Jewish Xperience’s innovative classes and programs and its warm, dynamic leadership has inspired countless to learn more about their heritage, prevented intermarriage and ensured Jewish continuity.
BJX is changing the fabric of Brooklyn. Roger bought tzitzis; Jessica affixed a mezuzah to her door. Sarah is going to study in Neve; Sammy is joining our chavrusah program. Paul, Erica, Danny, Boris, Angela, Mark, Debbie and numerous others enrolled in BJX’s “Laws and Philosophy of Shabbat” series. And that’s not all – students from frum families who were on the brink of giving up Yiddishkeit are now well-adjusted frum adults.
Brooklyn Jewish Xperience needs the public’s help in thwarting the plans of the missionary center about to open in Flatbush. Instead of the fighting the center by picketing and protesting, BJX will foil its efforts by establishing Brooklyn’s first all-encompassing kiruv center.
The BJX Kiruv Center will host BJX’s kiruv shul, daily classes, learning programs, and events for the unaffiliated and for frum people desperately in need of kiruv and chizuk. The center will be located at 2915 Avenue K. Construction began last week. Now BJX needs support to help build the kiruv center and put the missionaries to shame.
The Chofetz Chaim declared that every Jew has a Torah obligation to reach out to his or her non-observant brethren. Today, with the threat from local Jewish missionaries, the fire of assimilation burning out of control, and the rampant off-the-derech phenomenon, every Jew must heed his call and respond.
BJX is a 501c3 organization, under the leadership of Rav Yitzchok Fingerer. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made securely online at thinkandcare.org/make-donation.html; by sending checks to Brooklyn Jewish Experience, 998 East 21st Street, Brooklyn, NY 11210; or by calling 646-397-1544 with a pledge.
About the Author: Rabbi Yitzchok Fingerer is a popular lecturer and educator and the author of "Search Judaism: Judaism's Answers to a Changing World" (Targum, 2009), available at SearchJudaism.com. He is also director of the Think and Care Tank (thinkandcare.org), an organization dedicated to spreading Jewish values and innovative Jewish programming.
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