This man’s alleged spiritual conversion efforts appear removed from kosher.
Rabbi Michael Elkohen, a self-proclaimed “good Jewish boy from New Jersey,” has been outed as the missionary in Jerusalem who led an alleged down-low effort to transform Jews to Christianity, according to a bombshell new report from the Bergen Record.
Born Michael Elk in southern New Jersey’s Salem County, Elkohen moved to Israel in 2006, and spent 15 years allegedly main a weird double life dwelling in an ultra-Orthodox space of Jerusalem. Not solely did that embrace sporting a hat and rising his hair into facet curls, however he was additionally reportedly tapped to carry out bris circumcisions and even write Torah scrolls.
Elk, 42, is the daddy of 5 youngsters and has been the topic of investigations by two missionary watchdog organizations. He’s known as the allegations in opposition to him “a lie.” He’s additionally mentioned that he “was born Jewish” and that, “seven or eight years ago,” he “repented” for his missionary work prior to now.
“The family has been under surveillance for at least seven years,” mentioned Shannon Nuszen, a researcher at one group, Beyneynu, said in a statement to the ultra-Orthodox web site Behadrei Haredim, in a report final week that first uncovered Elk’s alleged goals. ‘[We have been] investigating the case of a covert missionary in French Hill for many years,” but opted to go public in 2021 “due to one of the missionary’s youngsters proselytizing in class.”
As additionally reported in Behadrei Haredim, Elk’s 13-year-old daughter had informed a classmate that Jesus Christ “accepts everyone, even if they are wrong.”
According to the Bergen Record, the act of missionizing is allowed in Israel, however there are exceptions. For occasion, there’s a ban on proselytizing to youngsters. Elk might face costs together with falsifying his identification, immigration fraud and performing ritual circumcisions illegally. In the case of Elk’s daughter, any makes an attempt to transform a minor in Israel are unlawful except there’s parental consent.
One of the opposite watchdog teams monitoring Elk was Outreach Judaism — and its director, Rabbi Tovia Singer, mentioned in an interview that Elk instructed different missionaries on the place to go in Israel.
“The idea of these messianic groups is to blur distinctions in order to lure Jews who would otherwise resist the Christian message,” mentioned Singer.
Elk and his late spouse, Amanda — who mentioned she was the daughter of Holocaust survivors and died in February of most cancers — allegedly moved to Israel with cast paperwork and with the help of Morningstar Missions in South Carolina. The Record reviews that Elk appears to have beforehand labored as a minister in Washington State and attended a Christian school named Eastern University.
Also a part of his private historical past earlier than heading to Israel: admitting that he had confronted a “downward spiral,” which included consuming and a failed marriage.
In Israel, Elk ran a faculty for Messianic Jews — and, in line with the watchdogs’ allegations, wrote nameless blogs about his work as a down-low evangelist. In a 2011 video for Morningstar Ministries, for instance, Elk is seen in observant Jewish clothes and says to “stir the Jewish people to jealousy” and “bring them back to [Jesus] once again.”
Nuszen believes there are some 30,000 missionaries in Israel, as effectively as 300 teams pushed to evangelize Jews and 200 web sites that purpose for conversion.