Making Money Off Of Jewish Souls

A little over a year ago,  my younger son kept a promise I had extracted from him. He was spending a year in Germany studying voice, and I made him promise he would visit a concentration camp site before returning to the U.S.  He kept this promise by walking from somewhere in the environs of Munich to Dachau, on a hot summer’s Sunday, with a backpack on his back.

Along this horrific Via Dolorosa there were signs indicating how Jews had marched these same streets on a journey of no return.

The Main Gate of Dachau Concentration Camp

He reported to me how transformational the experience was for him, and how, upon arriving at the gates of the camp he found them closed, since this was a Sunday.  He told of how he barely resisted the urge to ask an octogenarian woman he saw outside a nearby home, “What did you do when you saw these thousands upon thousands of people being led to their deaths?”

One comment he made to me left an indelible impression.  He remarked how things had not changed much. Whereas formerly the environs of Dachau made money off of Jews by using them as slave labor, now they were making money off of Jews by selling souvenirs and servicing the tourists who come to visit there.

Chilling.

It is also chilling to consider how some, and although surely not all, who missionize the Jewish people also engage in making money off of Jewish souls.  I see this to especially be a danger when mission agencies seek to please their mailing lists by delivering Jews to their churches, therefore receiving budget support in response. It comes perilously close to an exchange: Jewish souls for church money.

Let’s be sure to be fair here.  There are many other motivations which bring people into this area of service, motivations of self-sacrifice, love, respect and faith, and many who have engaged in such work are icons of unselfishness.  Still, the danger remains of engaging in a chilling quid pro quo. Always, for those engaged in promoting Yeshua faith among my people, there is the danger of becoming indifferent or even hostile to Jewish communal continuity and covenantal life. Whenever those missionizing the Jews see Jewish communal and covenantal community as of little, no, or secondary importance, they risk becoming merchandisers of Jewish souls.   I suggest instead that those who Yeshua to Jewish people invest equal energies in encouraging, facilitating, and insisting that these Jews  root themselves and grow in Jewish covenantal life and community.

This becomes especially hard, actually impossible to do, when those who missionize are themselves assimilated Jews who have forsaken Jewish covenantal life and community. They can scarcely call others to live the kinds of Jewish lives they themselves have abandoned.  It is also hard to encourage new Yeshua-believers to live in Jewish covenantal life and community for those whose support depends upon churches that will be estranged if the missionaries perpetuate Jewish life and community by encouraging Jews who come to Yeshua faith to live Jewish lives with other Jews.  Happily, some churches rightly recognize that of course Jewish covenantal and communal life is no threat to the unity of the people of God.  Still, these are in a minority, and very few mission-minded churches understand this to be an appropriate priority. They will instead see such Jewish covenantal and communal loyalty as spiritually retrogressive, divisive, and at best an option to be allowed but not encouraged.  Sad.

It is a worthy goal for Messianic Jews to do all they can to educate Christians of the propriety and beauty of Jewish Yeshua believers living such covenantal and communal lives.  It it is also worthwhile, and a passion of mine, to challenge the missions culture to reexamine these issues, long ago foreclosed in their ranks.

As things are now, the danger for those who missionize, as in many areas of life is in succumbing to the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.

May God deliver us all from being ruled by such tawdry motivations.

About Stuart Dauermann

The blog of Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, teacher, mentor, radio talk show host, denizen of Los Angeles, and a visionary with a long career in Messianic Jewish activism. You can hear Rabbi Dauermann as he hosts Shalom Talk, a weekly radio show, and even listen online at ShalomTalk.com. Rabbi Dauermann spends time traveling nationally and internationally, and throughout the year is in Israel as a Scholar in Residence at the MJTI Jerusalem Center. He has plenty to say about Jewish-Christian relations, the need for shalom in the world, and the agenda of Messiah, the Son of David.
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7 Responses to Making Money Off Of Jewish Souls

  1. zayin says:

    Great post and good parallel.

    I also find it interesting when those same organizations distort the actual numbers to bring in more money from the group at large (congregation, organization, etc.). For instance, stating a higher number of Jews who “prayed the prayer” as if that, in and of itself, is some golden key without any form of nourishment or commitment to back it up.

    • Agreed, Zayin. But let’s realize the culprit here is not so much organizations, as the inattentiveness of people in those organizations to the habits of being and of relationship which are governing their lives. Any organization can do the right thing. But not all organizations can or will wake up to what they are . . . or are not . . . doing. The issue is one of self awareness and of being receptive to change. When either or both of these are lacking, death is in the air.

  2. peter jamieson says:

    Careful in commenting on the older German people who may or may not have known, Capos inside also guided the dooms dispelling fears etc and they were jews who were later murdered too.

    • I am not generalizing about anyone, but rather quoting my son. This is not an attack on all Germans. My son in fact was impressed with how the Germans he met while in Germany were guilt obsessed about the Shoah and completely intolerant of any show of fascist behavior of sympathies. On the other hand, I find it unfeasible to imagine that people in the environs of the camp, who could in fact spit over the wall if they wished to, did not know what was going on, especially due to the stench of crematoria. It is true that local inhabitants claimed to have not known what was going on there. It is also true that General Eisenhower required local inhabitants to clean up the liberated camp, believing they either knew or should have known. And the fact that Jewish capos were functionaries in the execution of their fellows in no way mitigates the culpability of local inhabitants: these Jews were prisoners conscripted under a death sentence, whereas local functionaries (supplementing imported camp personnel) did so for filthy lucre and/or the service of the Third Reich. And to the extent that local inhabitants did work in such camps, the fiction that people did not know what was going on there is exposed for what it is.

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  4. Luke says:

    Challenging and thought-provoking post, as usual, Rabbi. Always the issues are, or should be, what are our motivations? Are we actually benefiting those we minister to, and enabling them to retain their precious identity, while providing them with everything they need to, in turn, minister to others? Are we awakened to the necessity and importance of, as you so succinctly put it, these Jews rooting themselves and growing in Jewish covenantal life and community?

    As your son remarked, it’s somehow possible that those, seeking to do something noble for the Jewish People by keeping the memory of the sufferings alive, become distracted by the trinkets they’re able to offer in the gift shop. I offer that if it is possible to lose focus of what is important while standing in Dachau, it’s possible to lose focus absolutely anywhere. In light of this, and at all times, let us be sober, and so very sensitive to our motivations – no matter how noble their beginnings.

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