Photo Credit: xourtesy VME

{Reposted from the Elder of Ziyon blog)

The Jewish Agency for Israel is actively partnering with evangelical Christians who seek to bring Israeli Jews to Jesus. That’s because 1) These missionaries are saving the Jewish Agency money by setting up and running absorption centers for new immigrants, lone soldiers, and young pre-army students and 2) The missionaries swear up and down until they’re blue in the face that they’re not missionaries—they swear they’re not here to bring Israeli Jews to Jesus.


That promise of innocence is of course, ridiculous. They are missionaries. Full stop. If the Jewish Agency believes them, I’ve got a bridge I can sell them for cheap.

As mentioned in an earlier column: Shannon Nuszen is working to expose the mission of evangelical Christians in Israel—Jews are trying to shut her down, regular Jewish Israelis, not unlike the Jewish Agency, are happy to save money. And just like the Jewish Agency, these Jews swear up and down that the missionaries aren’t missionaries. The evangelicals, meanwhile, harvest grapes in the Jewish orchards of Samaria for free—a dream come true for any farmer. (But at what ultimate cost?)

With all that free labor, is it any wonder that some Israeli Jews fight the notion that in actual fact, these Christians are here to bring Israeli Jews to Jesus? But Jews looking the other way on the presence of missionaries in Israel has, perhaps, another subtext: some Israeli Jews retain a pathological need to seek constant approval from outsiders. These remaining vestiges of the ghetto mentality of these Israelis living free and easy in Israel is almost understandable: What happened to past generations in the diaspora has no doubt scarred the less emotionally hardy of our people.

So if just regular Israeli Jewish Joes support the evangelicals in their mission, it only stands to reason that the Jewish Agency believes it can get away with underwriting projects like the Aliyah Return Center for Lone Soldiers, run by, yes, missionaries.

Now it wouldn’t happen in America. This is made clear in this most recent clip from Beynenu, narrated by Rabbi Tovia Singer.

From the film:

“What’s going on here in Israel would not go on in the United States. Both the Reform and Conservative movements have bylaws that they will not work with messianics, who are evangelical fundamentalist Christians who use Jewish terminology, symbols, and icons in order to bring Jewish people to know Jesus in a Jewish way.

“Here in Israel there seems to be no separation.

“The Reform Movement [in America] is the most liberal, and even they would not allow anybody of the messianic movement to be involved in any aspect of their education, much less run their programs.

“Jewish Community Centers around the world deal with the problem of messianics working to infiltrate their centers and social networks all the time, and they work very hard to address it.

“Yet here in Israel we have messianics partnering with the Jewish Agency running absorption centers for new olim, lone soldiers, and young pre-army students. Nowhere else in the world would Jews think to cross this line!

“The Jewish Agency is partnering with the Aliyah Return Center, a Christian organization headed in this country by a Messianic Jew. It’s astounding!”

This latest—some would say shocking—clip from Beynenu is, in part, a response to the Jewish Agency, which has accused the organization of doctoring footage to back the narrative that the evangelical Christians are missionaries. Here is the official press release from the Jewish Agency for Israel on the subject:

“The Jewish Agency runs an educational facility near the Sea of Galilee called Bikat Kinarot. The site, fully managed by The Jewish Agency, includes facilities for lone soldiers, new immigrants, preparation for service in the IDF and serves as a regional center for those involved with civic projects.

“We have a formal agreement with the Canadian Christian Zionist organization Return Ministries to provide volunteers and to assist with construction, maintenance and landscaping work on the campus. This is done within a very clear contractual framework, stipulating that any kind of missionary activity is strictly prohibited.

“We are familiar with Beynenu and while the videos are heavily edited, using old and irrelevant footage and containing many false statements, they do raise grave questions and concerns for us regarding our relationship with Return Ministries.

“Let us emphasize that Return Ministries has no involvement whatsoever with any Jewish Agency programming. Any involvement of Return Ministries or the Aliyah Return Center beyond the very clearly demarcated roles mentioned above is in clear violation of their agreement with The Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency will make no compromise on allowing any missionary activity. We are examining the allegations and intend to take firm action if they are found to be correct. We reject any effort to apply pressure on our internal process by any outside body, who is trying to tarnish our good name. If necessary, we will take steps to prevent this besmirching of The Jewish Agency’s reputation and unwavering dedication to keeping the Jewish people connected to each other and to Israel.”

That’s the official statement to the press. An internal email from the Jewish Agency, however, tells a different story:

“From this examination we have issued a very strong formal letter of complaint sent to Return Ministries. As we have searched for the facts, numerous violations of our contractual agreement have been discovered which have been included in our letter.”

As a result, Beynenu went ahead and sent the following letter to the Jewish Agency:

December 6, 2020
Dear Esteemed Jewish Leaders:
We are writing to you out of great concern.
In an unfortunate mistake on the part of the Jewish Agency, the largest nonprofit Jewish organization in the world is partnered with Messianic Christian groups who pose a direct threat to Jewish communities worldwide. These aggressive evangelical organizations deceptively misappropriate Jewish traditions, symbols, and icons to bring vulnerable Jews to the Christian faith. Moreover, programs between the Jewish Agency and the Messianic movement bestow a detrimental stamp of approval on these aggressive groups.
According to a statement made by a staff member at The Aliyah Return Center, the Jewish Agency is at least four years into a ten-year contract with the evangelical Return Ministries and its subsidiary, the Aliyah Return Center. This agreement enables them to operate a facility for new immigrants and Israeli soldiers at Bikat Kinarot in Israel’s Galilee region.
Chaim Malespin, the director of the Aliyah Return Center, is a prominent leader in the Messianic movement. This problematic partnership undermines decades of efforts on the part of world Jewry to maintain the integrity of Jewish identity in the face of aggressive missionary efforts.
Furthermore, this partnership enables evangelical Messianic volunteers to care for our most susceptible Jews actively and directly, as you will see in the attached video.
The Aliyah Return Center, founded by Dean Bye of Return Ministries, has various projects aimed at amplifying their interaction with the residents. Return Ministries built the “Vertical Prayer Center” in the heart of the property. The Messianic group recently hosted a Yom Kippur service for Jews on the site.
A Messianic leader recently said to Chaim Malespin, the managing director of the Aliyah Return Center, “With so many Israelis and a worship center, they would be exposed to the presence of the Lord without anyone having to say anything.”

Return Ministries also seeks to establish a campsite off the National Trail where they confess that they will be able to approach young Israeli hikers “to share the Lord with them.”
Jewish communities worldwide entrust the Jewish Agency with the responsibility for integrating Jewish immigrants, bringing young Jews from communities around the world on Israel experience programs, and helping young Israelis feel part of the global Jewish family. A partnership between Jewish Agency and any segment of the Messianic movement is a violation of that trust and breach of its fiduciary responsibility. It is a slap in the face to Jewish communities that have been struggling for decades to defend the integrity of Jewish identity in the face of messianic/missionary efforts.
We call on the leadership of the Jewish Agency to thoroughly investigate how this ill conceived partnership could have occurred and end this alliance which threatens the integrity of our Jewish family.
Please view the attached video and contact us with any questions you might have. Link to video online:
The partnership was also featured in a recent article in the Jerusalem Post and World Israel News: missionizing-allegations-649418 lone-soldiers/

Shannon Nuszen
Beyneynu – Director
[email protected] 058-405-3533
Rabbi Tovia Singer
Outreach Judaism – Director [email protected]


As for claims by the Jewish Agency that Beynenu is using doctored, old, and irrelevant clips to prove a specific and unfounded point, Shannon Nuszen has this to say:

“We wish we could say that this is Hollywood, but these videos are real and it’s happening in Israel. We understand that leaders are upset about this, and I think we all understand that mistakes happen. However, it would be a bigger mistake to be defensive rather than taking this seriously and addressing the problem.

“Whether they are baptizing olim, or just doing the gardening, we should not be partnering with Messianics. Legitimizing Messianics undermines Jewish communities, and as the Jewish Agency emphasizes, these communities are the building blocks of Jewish life.

“This would not happen anywhere else in the world, but for some reason this grave mistake has happened here in Israel.

“I assure you we are on the same side, and we would be happy to help the Jewish Agency address this serious matter.”

So what exactly is Beynenu, and why are they going after these evangelical Christians like a dog with a bone that just won’t let go? Nuszen says that Beyneynu is a team of former missionaries, counter missionary experts, and “concerned persons of influence.” Here is Beynenu’s official mission statement:

Beyneynu is a non-profit organization that monitors missionary activity in Israel and works with government and community leaders to create awareness of the challenges facing the public and to facilitate the establishment of proper boundaries in their partnerships with faith-based organizations.

Establishing “proper boundaries” would seem to be something sorely lacking here between the Jewish Agency and organizations like Return Ministries, Hayovel, and the Aliyah Return Center. As a Jewish Israeli, I am happy that organizations like Beynenu exist. Because the last thing I want Jewish Israelis (such as my children) to encounter, is a missionary hiding the fact that what he really wants is for you to come to Jesus.

(h/t Shannon Nuszen of Beyneynu)

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Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.