Jews come in all sizes, shapes and character – everything from David Ben Gurion and Jonas Salk to Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein. Do the latter two hurt the tribe? Most certainly, but they are also, by no means, representative of all Jews nor should their sins be held up as the normative behavior of all Jews.
Likewise, such is the case of Timothy Buckles, a proclaimed Messianic Jew who was exposed in an article entitled, “New Allegations Surface of Another Messianic Missionary,” (Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2021). Buckles, a resident of Jerusalem, is said to have been posing as an Orthodox Jew, accused of being a covert missionary.
While these allegations, claimed by the Beynenu anti-missionary organization, along with their further claim that yet another individual by the name of Michael Elk was also posing as an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, scribe and mohel, have yet to be validated, they most certainly should be fully exposed if these two individuals have been posing as frauds in a community which trusted that they were very much one of them.
Both Buckles and Elk, American citizens are said to have infiltrated the observant Jewish community, using different names and tactics, but both men, apparently who were not born Jewish, somehow managed to slip through the cracks and utilize the system in order to successfully pull off their goals of immigration to Israel as well as creating for themselves a new identity which gave them entrance into the Orthodox world.
In the JPost article, Shannon Nuszen, head of the group Beyneynu states, “Missionary activity is legal in Israel. Immigration fraud is not.” (Ibid) The article goes on to state that there are over 300 Messianic organizations in Israel that operate with a stated goal of bringing Jews to Jesus.
First and foremost, it’s hard to think of anyone in the Israeli Messianic Community that would support the fraudulent tactics of individuals who deceptively pose as Jews but, in fact, were born as gentiles. Secondly, it is important to note that the Israeli Messianic Community primarily exists to facilitate those who are part and parcel of that community. It provides congregations where believers can gather and worship on Shabbat. It provides schools for those who prefer to have their children educated in a manner more consistent with the biblical principles of their faith, and it also promotes Messianic organizations which render humanitarian assistance, ancillary teaching and other services for the believing community in Israel. It does not seek to target either secular or religious Jews for the purpose of conversion.
Does that mean that if an everyday Israeli shows interest to know more about faith in Yeshua, the Messiah that their questions should not be answered? Certainly not! In a free and democratic state, anyone is welcome to express curiosity or a desire to educate themselves on the claims of another’s beliefs. That means that they are, likewise, free to personally accept those beliefs or reject them as well. To disallow or prevent such a free choice act is nothing more than suppression of one’s right to choose for themselves.
Although I do not speak for everyone as a whole, I think it’s safe to say that it is both disturbing and antithetical to the Messianic movement, either here in Israel or abroad to embrace fraudulent acts which undermine the validity of our faith as well as the honesty and integrity to which we are called according to the Jewish scriptures.
Individuals who commit such fraud are not part and parcel of our community nor do we endorse any such actions. In fact, I believe that most of us, if not all, would disassociate ourselves from anyone who would attempt to represent themselves in a way which is not forthright or truthful. Those who fail to do so are giving Messianic Jews a bad name – something which must not be tolerated by mainstream adherents of the faith.
As Jewish believers, we, too, are called to be a light to the nations. Perpetrating fraud and dishonesty is not the path to being that light. Just as the Jewish community at large holds the Jeffrey Epsteins, Bernie Madoffs and Harvey Weinsteins of the world as pariahs and anomalies which shame and embarrass the Jewish community, so I, for one, renounce and reject any who would bring shame upon our Messianic community as well. May each of us always strive to be the most honest and genuine representatives of the One whom we follow!