Why Don’t Jews “Evangelize” Jews?

Evangelize Jews

Bernie Madoff finally gave a public interview of sorts recently. Basically, he argued that bankers and others in the financial world were complicit in his crimes. I have nothing interesting to say on that subject, but the very occasion of his speaking out raised an important question for me: Who is talking these days to Bernie Madoff about the state of his soul?

My Jewish friends—especially rabbis and others who are serious about their faith—resent the way evangelicals go about “Jewish evangelism.” This is a big subject, and one we don’t often address calmly in our interfaith dialogues. And while I have my own criticisms of the way we evangelicals have sometimes gone about our witnessing about Christ to the Jewish community, I also have serious questions for my Jewish friends about their own views about “Jewish evangelism.” To put it bluntly, I wonder why they are not showing a deeper concern for the souls of those folks in their own community who by any Jewish standard are clearly wandering from the paths of righteousness.

Bernie Madoff is a case in point. He has done horrible things, engaging in a long-term deceptive project that has brought misery to many Jewish lives. It seems to me to be clear from a Jewish perspective that Bernie Madoff should repent of his sins and make a public confession. And—even if he cannot do the Zacchaeus thing, making restitution by repaying his victims fourfold—he can at least let them know that he is profoundly sorry for his sins and is praying for his victims’ well being.

Is anyone in the Jewish community talking to him about such things? Am I wrong in thinking that this kind of “prison ministry” is as much a Jewish obligation as it is a Christian one?

Or take another kind of case. Who in the Jewish community is urging the comedienne Sarah Silverman to turn from her wicked ways? She is by her own admission a sexually promiscuous person. Worse yet, she clearly is a blasphemer, even injecting into her comedy routines horrible jokes about God and sex. I can’t imagine how any Jewish teacher (including Sarah’s sister, who is a rabbi) could help but be horrified by the things that she says on the stage. Is any rabbi pleading with her to repent of her sins and to begin walking in the paths of righteousness?

Here is my challenge to the Jewish community: If they don’t go after the likes of Bernie Madoff and Sarah Silverman, do they have any objection to our doing so? Can’t we agree on at least this minimal attempt at “Jewish evangelism”?

  1. I believe these people are too proud to be confronted by either Christians or their own people. This is why people do not confront them. They would take it too personally. Even Jewish Christians want to believe there is some “specialness” about them. They understand specialness in the wrong way.

    Jewish evangelism is hard, but the fault does not lie solely with the way the Christians are witnessing to them. It is God who saves and every day Jews and non -Jews live and die without Christ. My point is that Jewishness does not save, only Christ does.

    Comment by Konstantinos Kalpakidis — March 5, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  2. Jewish evangelism is not necessary. According to Rob Bell, love wins. Bernie Madoff’s greed and Sarah Silverman’s lasciviousness will eventually be melt away by God’s love either in this lifetime or thereafter.


    Comment by Bob — March 22, 2011 @ 11:39 pm

  3. Bob,

    Wow, that would be terrible!


    Comment by MWT — April 2, 2011 @ 9:44 am

  4. @Bob… I’m not sure Rob Bell has much credibility left…

    Comment by Judaica Jewelry — May 3, 2011 @ 1:14 pm

  5. in houston tx not enough people even try to evangelize the jewish people so many precious souls will find out on their last on earth that their traditions and even judism will not get them into heaven and even worse so many rely on what the rabbi saids rather than reading their own bible to find out the truth.please pray for the jewish people in houston tx and all over the world that the scales of their eyes will open up.