A concentration of two and one-half million Jews living in New York City, presents a tremendous challenge and responsibility to us to bring the last warning message to these people who were originally destined to be kings and priests in the world. But because of disobedience to God they have reached a stage of spiritual declension and indifference. Adherence to outdated traditions and customs that are more social than religious has erected barriers very difficult to overcome. Antagonism to anything Christian, though modified considerably because of intermarriage and business and social contacts, still rankles in Jewish hearts.
Coupled with this are the problems that every large city has—the many attractions, distance, radio, television, et cetera. The task of attracting Jewish people to any religious meeting, and a Christian one especially, is formidable. We have been led to use the health message as a main attraction, appealing to the desire that everyone has for health and peace of mind. For this purpose Elder J. M. Hoffman has prepared thousands of beautiful color slides dealing with health and diet as well as Bible subjects. Each meeting is concluded with questions from the floor.
The wonderful health message that God has given us causes the people to realize that we have something to offer them that they need. Bible subjects are closely interwoven with the health message, such as the importance of obeying the health laws of Moses and the keeping of the Ten Commandments. Before very long these lectures, using the slides only, create an interest not only in physical health but in the Bible, and we are able to reveal the close spiritual relationship between mind and body.
In order to strengthen the interest a special class was organized, which was called Health and Peace of Mind Class. This class met an hour before each lecture and the attendance was good. Approximately forty persons attended, half of whom were Jewish people. In this class we have used the lessons and questionnaires in the Hebrew Scripture Course and the Home Health Education Series No. 1 and No. 2. Two chapters were studied every Sunday, the papers were corrected and returned. The textbooks used were the three volumes of Israel's Heritage. This enabled us to get a good idea of the thinking and reactions of the people regarding not only the lessons but the third angel's message.
The subject of baptism by immersion has been a problem, for to the average Jew baptism is linked with Roman Catholicism and what the Jewish people have suffered through the centuries from these professed Christians. It is interesting to note, however, that baptism by immersion was practiced by the Jews for centuries when the heathen accepted Judaism. The nations surrounding the Israelites after they occupied the land of Canaan, witnessed the wonderfully disciplined and wellorganized nation of Israel, their worship of the living God, their civil laws, and the Lord's mighty power revealed through them. Those heathen nations were deeply impressed, and hundreds of thousands of Gentiles accepted the God of Israel. But before they could become full-fledged Jews they had to undergo baptism by immersion as well as circumcision and participation in the sanctuary service.
Christianity is deeply embedded in Judaism. When Jewish people realize the wonderful link between true Judaism and true Christianity, and what is being done through God's remnant church, they accept fully the instruction given through the messenger of the Lord.
God has richly blessed the work here. We feel that, though we must make many improvements and even changes in our methods, we are on the right track in so far as the work for the Jews is concerned. It is gratifying to hear some of our new Jewish believers thank us for bringing them this wonderful Advent message, as well as the peace, health, and happiness they enjoy.
The message of the soon coming of Jesus is presented later, and the responses to the many altar calls soon give us a nucleus for a baptismal class. We take the name and address of each one who responds. Every Sabbath afternoon a special class meets in which candidates get further instruction preparatory to baptism.
It appears that large numbers of Jewish people join the Pentecostals, Unitarians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and others, and we believe that with God's help we can win many of them to Christ and His message for these last days. Many of the Jewish people are searching for the truth. One woman who has been attending regularly both our evangelistic meetings and our Sabbath services has admitted that she loves Jesus and His teachings, but for the time being she must do it secretly.
Our courage is good, and we look forward to the fulfillment of the prophecy promised by the Lord's messenger that in the last days many of the Jewish people will come and join God's remnant people in numbers as great as in the days of Pentecost:
The time has come when the Jews are to be given light. The Lord wants us to encourage and sustain men who shall labor in right lines for this people; for there are to be a multitude convinced of the truth, who will take their position for God. —Ellen G. White in Review and Herald, June 29, 1905, p. 8.
We thank God for all that has thus far been accomplished, and look forward to the time when there will be a rich harvest of souls from our Jewish people in New York.