The controversy surrounding an Easter article run within the Chicago Tribune has spilled over into Christianity Today.

It was reported that more than 250 Chicago churches held Passover dinners called seders this year.

However, some of these “seders” were apparently based upon rather questionable and self-serving interpretations, concocted by groups such as the controversial fundamentalist Christian missionary organization called “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ).

An ordained Baptist minister who once worked for the American Board of Missions to the Jews founded JFJ, which is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Missionaries from JFJ have a traveling road show titled “Christ in the Passover,” which passed through Chicago. This program often serves as a rather viable vehicle for fund-raising.

Basically, the theme of this JFJ program is to present the Passover ritual observance superimposed with alleged prophetic references to Jesus. The actual meaning and historical significance of the traditional seder is thus distorted and/or negated.

After the Tribune ran the report about these pseudo-seders Jews in Chicago protested that their holiday was being misrepresented in the paper. The staff writer responsible for the report admitted to some religious bias.

“Misinformation and outright falsehoods, said one Jewish reader. And added that the piece did “great harm to the cause of interfaith understanding,”

Rabbi Ira Youdovin, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis said, “Fundamentalists [who] seek to co-opt an ancient Jewish ritual…appreciate Jews not for what they are…but for this caricatured identity as proto-Christians. This is highly offensive to Jews.”

Another rabbi noted, “We have problems with Christians transforming our symbols and stories into a Christological message that robs us of our holy experience and thoughts.”

Of course JFJ doesn’t seem to care about such things. In fact they probably enjoyed the controversy. Why do you think they chose their name in the first place?

After all, the more controversy, the more attention and that attention just might translate into contributions.

JFJ had a serious shortfall in its budget last year and staff layoffs followed.

It seems many within the evangelical Christian community have grown tired and perhaps a bit bored with the organization. They have actually not produced many “Jews for Jesus,” despite their multi-million dollar annual expenditures.

Perhaps the group hopes its annual “hit and run” Passover programs will rejuvenate some interest and help their sagging revenues?


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