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Jews for Jesus:
Targeting Jews for Conversion with Subterfuge and Deception
RULE Activities and Tactics

About Jews for Jesus

Activities and Tactics
Christian Response

Legal Cases

Distributing literature

Jews for Jesus focuses its missionary activity on areas with large Jewish populations, and combines aggressive media campaigns with efforts at establishing personal contact with individual Jews. Much of the organization’s notoriety is attributable to its distribution, in concentrated campaigns, of vast numbers of brightly colored, cartoon-like pamphlets along high-volume pedestrian areas. Recently, it has begun animating some of these pamphlets on its Website, including one entitled “Jesus Made Me Kosher.” These tracts frequently mix evangelizing messages with Jewish cultural references (e.g., bagels, rabbis, overprotective mothers).

Ad campaigns and direct mail

This T-shirt is sold in Jews for Jesus’ online store.
The group supplements the literature distributions with ads – with messages such as “Be more Jewish: Believe in Jesus” or “Jesus for Jews” – on billboards, in subway cars, newspapers and magazines, and on radio. It also uses direct mail outreach, and has sent postcards, fliers and books to hundreds of thousands of families with Jewish names in locations around the country. Some of the group’s periodicals and many other publications are directed toward Jews who have yet to accept the group’s message, while others are directed toward those whom the group has converted and to mainstream Christians.

Appeals at churches

A large portion of the group’s fundraising efforts are directed at the latter group, and Jews for Jesus leader David Brickner’s presentations to churches include appeals for funds to help in its work. Other members of the group frequently travel to American churches, including a music group called “The Liberated Wailing Wall” that perhaps best epitomizes the group’s desire to combine Jewish music, language, and themes into a Christian message. Brickner began his involvement with Jews for Jesus through the music group.

Active Internet presence

Jews for Jesus also maintains an extensive Internet presence, with unique Websites for each of the nine countries outside of the United State where it maintains offices. It has other Websites in languages like Korean and Farsi for regions where it has no presence on the ground. Its U.S. Website includes various blogs, a forum, and an online store that sells a variety of books, videos, apparel, music and other products produced by the group. It claims to receive 20,000 unique visitors to its primary Website each month.

The group has also produced a number of promotional videos, which it posts on its Websites, YouTube, and VodPod, a Website designed to allow users to create individual pages for videos. Jews for Jesus’ primary promotional video makes clear its focus on Israel, and the group also maintains collections of videos that purport to show how one can perform Jewish rituals connected to holidays like Passover while believing in Jesus as the Messiah. Another video is a collection of stories from Holocaust survivors on how they eventually came to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

Hoping to convert Israelis

Jews for Jesus’ current focus is on Israel, and it is in the midst of a six-year campaign to convert Israeli Jews to Christianity. The group maintains an office in Tel Aviv led by an Israeli convert and regularly sends missionaries to Israel as an extension of its “Operation Behold Your God” campaign. At a recent appearance at an American church, Brickner called Israel the place in the world that is the most open to the Jews for Jesus message.

For its Israel campaign, the group has taken out full-page advertisements in major Israeli newspapers and maintains a Hebrew language Website, but it still sees street preaching as its primary outreach effort. A centerpiece of its goal is to convince Israelis to refer to Jesus as “Yeshua,” which means “salvation” in Hebrew.

The group also organized a “Massah” trip in the summer of 2007 composed of college-age youths, which was designed to proselytize to young Israelis in Israel and abroad. (Massah means “journey” in Hebrew. The Jewish Agency and other Jewish groups run a program called Masa that seeks to connect young Jews to long-term programs in Israel.) During the summer 2008 Massah trip, the group also traveled to India, where they proselytized to young Israelis traveling there. Jews for Jesus calls Massah “highly relational and highly experimental” and “effective.”

The director of Jews for Jesus’ Israel office, Dan Seder, also appeared on an Israeli morning television show in May 2008. On the show, Seder outlined, in Hebrew, the group’s view that acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah does not mean one has converted from Judaism to Christianity. Seder is an Israeli who converted to Christianity at the age of 15 while his family was living in New York City.

Members of Jews for Jesus have charged that they are harassed by Orthodox Jews in Israel, and recounting such an experience is a focus of presentations Brickner delivers to American churches. In August 2008, Brickner said the group had handed out 132,000 tracts in Tel Aviv and converted 32 Israelis. Hoping to reach all areas of Israel, the group is targeting the Northern Galilee for October 2008. 

The original “Operation Behold Your God,” which began in 2001 and officially ended in 2006, was designed to reach every city in the world outside of Israel with a population of at least 25,000 Jews. It culminated with an extensive effort in New York City in the summer of 2006, the biggest campaign in the city in the group’s history. It also passed through several other American cities, and included outreach in Mexico City, Sydney, Odessa, London and Paris. The group continues to run “Summer Witnessing Campaigns” where members proselytize to Jews each year on the streets of major cities around the world. Its summer 2008 campaign in London drew the interest of a British-based newspaper, which reported that the group had spent between ₤10,000 and ₤15,000 ($20,000 to $30,000) on the two-week effort, and that the group’s yearly budget was over $1 million.

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