Yad L'Achim

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Yad L'Achim (Hebrew: יד לאחים‎, "hand for brothers") is an Orthodox Jewish organization operating in Israel focusing on outreach, counter-missionary and inter-religious intermarriage activity. Yad L'Achim is made up of both paid staff, and volunteers, and is largely supported by donations both from Israel and the diaspora.[1]

History[edit]

Yad L'Achim was formed in 1950 with the stated goal of to "help new immigrants to the newly born country, and to help them find a suitable religious framework. Over time the founders were disturbed by emerging missionary efforts in the new State, and then later by assimilation. It then turned a major part of its activities to combating these two issues."[2] Yad L’Achim has other departments as well, including one devoted to the spiritual absorption of immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States, and one that helps register children in religious schools".[2]

Beliefs[edit]

Main article: Haredi Judaism

Yad L'Achim adheres to the strictures and stringencies of Haredi Judaism. Haredi Jews are known for focusing on such issues as adherence to religious law, non-assimilation, modesty of dress, and keeping Shabbat and holy days.

Counter-Missionary Activity[edit]

Yad L'Achim's main focus is counter-missionary opposition to efforts to convert Jews to Christianity or to accepting Jesus as savior. Yad L'Achim claims that over 100 missionary congregations and cults are currently active in Israel.[2] The Israel government cooperates to some degree with Yad L'Achim in discouraging proselytizing, which is technically legal unless a minor is targeted without parental consent.[3]

Yad L'Achim has also demanded that Pope Benedict XVI act to reveal the “hidden Jewish children” of the Holocaust.[4]

Opposition to Arab-Jewish marriages[edit]

Yad L'Achim website states: "The Jewish soul is a precious, all-too-rare resource, and we are not prepared to give up on even a single one. That’s why we fight with such intensity for both the Russian Jewish immigrant who has become a regular at the missionary center in Afula and the Jewish woman who is married to an Arab."[5]

Yad L'Achim claims to rescue Jewish women from marriages with Arab and/or Muslim men or other non-Jews. Yad L'Achim claims to get over 1,000 reports of women in marriages to foreign workers, and Arabs a year.[6]

Journalist Dimi Reider has alleged racism in his reporting on the rescuing by Yad L'Achim of Jewish women from non-Jewish husbands:

"On top of that, we have the activities of a huge, quasi-paramilitary group called Yad Leachim that goes on army-style”rescue operations” of Jewish women from their Gentile husbands (homegrown terrorist Jacob Teitel boasts working with them for a while, which they deny), and, lest we forget, the insane Jewish Agency campaign about non-Jewish partners kidnapping 50% of the young Jews in the Diaspora. But this is the first time officially sanctioned racism, funded by taxpayers, has come to Tel Aviv, Israel’s liberal heartland." [7]

Harassment of Christian Missionaries in Israel[edit]

Christian missionaries in Israel have repeatedly complained of being persecuted, harassed, threatened and attacked by Yad L'Achim and a similar group, Lev L'Achim. These complaints, as well as slow response time by Israeli authorities, is a continued matter of concern to the U.S. State Department, as described in their Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Israel,[8] and repeatedly in the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor's annual International Religious Freedom Report, most recently in the 2009 report.[9]

The State Department notes in its 2001 report, however, that the negative feeling toward proselytizing of Israeli Jews goes beyond Lev L'Achim:

"Societal attitudes toward missionary activities and conversion generally are negative. Israeli Jews frequently are opposed to missionary activity directed at Jews and occasionally are hostile toward Jewish converts to Christianity. Such attitudes often are attributed to the frequent periods in Jewish history in which Jews were coerced to convert to Christianity."[10]

Jehovah's Witnesses filed over 120 complaints about instances of harassment by these groups during 1998 and 1999, yet there have been no indictments or prosecutions. At the same time, a member of the Jehovah's Witness was arrested and charged with "offending religious sentiment" for allegedly distributing religious literature at Tel Aviv's central bus station on March 1, 1999. The complainant was Yad L'achim member. The Jehovah's Witness claimed he was being singled out for prosecution because he had filed five complaints against Yad L'achim.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]