Breaching the Wall of Judaism

How the Five-Day Stop Smoking Plan can help.

S.A. Kaplan, Retired Jewish Minister, Chesapeake Conference

The rejection of Jesus as their Messiah and Redeemer by the Jewish nation has through the centuries created an almost im­passable barrier between them and the Christian world. Jewish enmity toward Christianity has built a huge wall of separation be­tween the two religious systems. The persecution and harassment of Jews in Spain, Germany, Russia, and other professedly Christian lands have served only to solidify and harden this wall of Jewish prejudice. To a large degree mis­apprehension, fear, distrust, and undis­guised hatred of Christianity still lurk deep down in the hearts of many of the sons and daughters of Abraham, notably so among Orthodox Jewry. How to breach this wall of centuries-old antagonism is one of the chal­lenging tasks confronting Seventh-day Ad­ventists.

For one thing, we should seek to come closer to these lost sheep of the house of Israel. As a people, with the exception of Ingathering time, we have been keeping ourselves pretty much aloof and distant from both Jewish leaders and masses alike. There should be a radical change in this attitude, and the sooner the better.

There are straws in the wind indicating that the time to breach the wall of Jewish prejudice is now. Jews, on the whole, are no longer persecuted as they used to be. God has so overruled in the affairs of na­tions that the liberties and human rights of Jews and other minorities are now re­spected in practically all civilized lands. Jews in American and other Christian lands are now enjoying the same privileges accorded to other citizens. They are no longer the underdog. Because of these changed conditions, Jews are beginning to regard Christianity in a more favorable light. Another softening influence is the wind of ecumenism, which is now blowing across Christen­dom. All these things tend to change the Jewish aloofness and exclusiveness to a feeling of be­longing and togetherness in their mingling with the Gentile world. We should capitalize on these favorable circumstances and put forth a definite, concerted effort to come closer to Abraham's seed. There may never be a more pro­pitious time to break down this wall of Jewish prejudice. This is a must before we can move in to preach God's last message to these long-neglected people.

Seventh-day Adventists possess the ways and means for cementing ties of friendship with Abraham's offspring that other denom­inations do not have. For example, the fact that we as a people abstain from the use of tobacco can serve as an entering wedge into many Jewish hearts. Along with our general Five-Day programs, we now have the golden opportunity to present this plan to strictly Jewish groups. The writer has had some personal experiences along this line in the city of Baltimore, and we gladly share these experiences with the readers of THE MINISTRY.

In every city containing a substantial Jewish population there is a center in which are carried on most of the Jewish social activities. These Jewish community centers are supported by all the segments of Judaism and are therefore quite liberal in their policies. Christians can become members in most of them and enjoy all the services available in these institutions. Even in those centers where, as in Balti­more, membership is restricted to -Jews be­cause of limited facilities, the social prog­ress, attractions, lectures, and courses are frequently nonsectarian in nature, and the speakers are recruited from Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic sources.

A little more than a year ago we got in touch with the leadership of the Baltimore Jewish Community Center, an imposing institution that cost a million and a quarter dollars to build. We explained to the offi­cers our stand on tobacco and offered to present our Five-Day Plan as a public service. They gratefully accepted our offer, and extended to us the use of their finest hall—a beautiful up-to-date air-condi­tioned auditorium equipped with the fin­est public-address system, and having a seating capacity of several hundred. Using their own excellent mailing facilities, they invited their members to this program. We briefed our team of workers—the doctor and his associate, and the members of our church who acted as ushers—to address the participants of the program as Americans and not as Jews, and to refrain from any remarks that would savor of doctrinaire propaganda.

On the opening night an audience of about 200 attended, about 95 per cent Jewish, and most of these of the cultured, intellectual class, such as lawyers, execu­tives, bankers, engineers, et cetera. The audience was about evenly divided be­tween men and women. The director of the center himself introduced the program, commending Seventh-day Adventists for their firm stand on tobacco and for their excellent service to the community in giv­ing this program. As the sessions proceeded night after night it became evident that our team of workers had endeared them­selves to their audience, and many expres­sions of appreciation were heard. The fame of this program spread far and wide among the Jews of Baltimore and literally became

the talk of the town," as one of the par­ticipants expressed it. The Baltimore Sun carried long articles for three consecutive days telling the general public about this program at the Jewish center. The Five-Day Plan even made a perceptible impact upon the center itself and its employees, some of whom took the course and quit us­ing tobacco. Another salutary effect was the decision of the director of the center to banish to permanent oblivion the large cig­arette dispenser that had occupied a con­spicuous place in the lobby of the institu­tion!

A few months after our intitial Five-Day session at the center, we were requested to put on a second Five-Day program. Provi­dentially, the date set was shortly after the U.S. issued its historic report on the evils of smoking. Again, close to 200 Jews at­tended and many victories over tobacco ad­diction were gained. We are greatly in­debted to Drs. James Whitlock, Tames Nel­son, Elder Melvin Tompkins of Takoma Park, and Elder Robert Zamora of Atholton, for their enthusiastic and successful performance at these sessions. At the com­pletion of the program, we requested and received cheerful permission to appeal to the audience for a voluntary offering. The response was overwhelming. The sum do­nated exceeded the total cost of the mate­rial used in both programs.

For a number of months now we have been holding monthly follow-up meetings at the center. These have been well at­tended, and it is our plan to continue these gatherings as developments warrant it. We wish to thank Dr. T. R. Flaiz of the Gen­eral Conference, Dr. J. Saxon of Takoma Park, and Arleen Nelson, the sanitarium dietitian, for their part in helping to make these follow-up programs both interesting and profitable.

In addition to the Five-Day Plan we used another approach to come close to Jewish leaders and the masses. The Sabbath truth and our stand against Sunday legislation are another means Adventists can use ad­vantageously. We are told by the messen­ger of the Lord that the time will come when we shall go forth to proclaim the Sabbath more fully (Early Writings, p. 85). This involves the Sabbath-Sunday issue, and we decided to do something about it. Not long ago the Religious Liberty Asso­ciation of the General Conference prepared a film entitled One-Day Criminal, dealing with this issue. The Chesapeake Conference purchased the film, and we in­vited a few Baltimore rabbis to preview it. As a result two synagogues opened their doors to us, inviting us to present the film to their Sunday morning breakfast club. We asked Elder Roland Hegstad, editor of the Liberty magazine, to lead out in the first program. His discourse and answers to questions raised relating to the film made a deep, and we believe, lasting impression upon the rabbi and the audience.

Thanks to the Religious Liberty Associ­ation we now have a slightly different ver­sion of the above film in which are fea­tured two outstanding Jewish leaders—Leo Pfeffer, noted authority on constitu­tional law, and Rabbi Panitz, a prominent conservative leader. Since using this revised film, we have received requests from syna­gogue after synagogue—including a two­million-dollar temple group to present the film to their breakfast clubs. Precious op­portunities were thus afforded us to pre­sent some phases of the Sabbath truth, and the Lord has helped us to make full use of these occasions. Do the rabbis welcome these programs? Indeed they do, even if their motives, in some instances, may be somewhat utilitarian. Through the presen­tation of this film and the related program we have proved ourselves their right-hand helpers to build up and encourage Sabbath-keeping by their members, most of whom carry on "business as usual" on God's holy day!

At one of the more prominent syna­gogues we presented two religious liberty programs on two different Sunday morn­ings. Elder Zamora was with us at the first meeting and rendered most valuable help. At the second session the rabbi, who is one of the bright lights in American Jewry, in­vited the writer and a fellow minister of one of our churches to partake of the break­fast, and seated us one on his right hand and the other on his left. The response of the rabbi and the audience to the film and the program was spontaneous and enthusiastic. We were regarded not merely as visi­tors, but as friends and brothers in a com­mon cause. We quote in part from a letter we received a few days later from this leader in Judaism:

"Dear Mr. _____

"In the name of our Brotherhood, I wish to thank you and your group for the ex­cellent program and film which you pre­sented during the breakfast meetings. . . . The film as well as the talk was received with unusual acclaim by our people. We hope that the heritage of religious freedom which is so basic to American civilization will be carried forward by your zeal and dedication. . . . A warm Yasher Koach {much power] to you."

"With greetings and best wishes,

"Cordially yours, (Signed) ________

In passing, we might add, that at every meeting we gave out complimentary copies of Liberty.

Here, then, is a challenge to our workers everywhere to form ties of friendship and good will with the Jewish leaders and peo­ple through this twofold approach we have here briefly mentioned. The Lord's mes­senger has urged us to take particular in­terest in the Jewish people in these days of crisis and momentous decisions. She says:

"Among the Jews are some who like Saul of Tarsus, are mighty in the Scriptures, and these will proclaim with wonderful power the immutability of the law of God. The God of Israel will bring this to pass in our day."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 381.

This statement implies that when the last crisis comes upon God's command­ment-keeping people, some leading lights in Judaism will unite with the remnant church and proclaim to the world Heaven's last message of mercy and redemption.

Other denominations, including the one that was instrumental in exalting the Sun­day institution, are now putting forth a concerted and persistent effort to influence Jews ecumenically. It is becoming increas­ingly evident that the Roman Church par­ticularly is going "all out" in its overtures to draw Abraham's seed into the fold of Catholicism. Shall we who are entrusted with the mightiest message for these de­cisive days look on with stoical indiffer­ence? It is high time that we put forth every effort to break down the wall of Jew­ish prejudice by the means God has placed in our hands, and thus prepare the way for the truth to be proclaimed with power to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

(Those interested in purchasing the re­vised film for use among the Jews, should write the Religious Liberty Association, 6840 Eastern Ave., Washington, D.C. 20012.)

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

S.A. Kaplan, Retired Jewish Minister, Chesapeake Conference

December 1964

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Joy to All Nations

Christmas, the spirit of joy, and holiday carols.

Foreign-Language Workers' Convention

Conference held in Battle Creek, Michigan, August 10-13, 1964.

Here's How We Did It!

Résumé of Foreign-Language Workers' Convention

The Unique Ones

More highlights from the Foreign-Language Workers' Convention

The Committee on Resolutions

How plans and methods for the future can be improved.

Why Battle Creek?

The story behind our location.

"These People Are Missionaries"

The Account of a Pilot Project in Evangelism Among the Jews of New York City.

Pleas and Promises

The necessity of reaching the Jews.

Some Prophecies Concerning the Messiah

Including excerpts from Jewish literature.

A Soul-winning Opportunity

Read if your church is static.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - SermonView - Medium Rect (300x250)

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)