Ft. Collins, CO — The Chabad Jewish Student Alliance at Colorado State University is dedicating an evening to the issue of Christian missionaries who proselytize to Jews.
The student group is hosting a visit by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, author of the book “The Jewish Response to Missionaries” and founder of Jews for Judaism International. Kravitz will speak at 8 p.m. Thursday at Colorado State University Lory Student Center, Room 230.
The talk is titled “J*s Was a Jew: But Can a Jew Be for J*s?!” Kravitz will discuss Messianic Christian groups that assert that Jews can believe in J*s as the Messiah and still remain Jewish. He also will make suggestions about how Jewish students can respond to Christian evangelists.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, faculty advisor and rabbi for the student alliance, said that CSU Jewish students often talk to him about being evangelized to by Christians on campus.
“They get the sales pitch. Some are more aggressive than others,” Gorelik said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for so many Christians here. … We are not talking about interfaith dialogue. We are talking about people who unabashedly say their agenda is to proselytize.”
Daniel Croll, a 21-year old CSU junior who is Jewish, said that he’s encountered several Christian missionaries at the Lory Student Center plaza, some who have been more confrontational than others.
“There are preachers who try to convert you,” he said. “I don’t need to walk through campus and be yelled at.”
J.T. English, student president of Campus Crusade for Christ, said the most zealous missionaries who yell at people in the plaza often are not associated with the university. He said he disagrees with the confrontational approach and has even stood up on the plaza to publicly counter one aggressive preacher.
“There are groups of people who condemn others. As a Christian, it hurts my feelings,” he said. “It’s the wrong approach.”
English said Campus Crusade for Christ sets up a table at the beginning of the semester just like other student groups where they talk to people about getting on the group’s e-mail list.
“When we are approaching people, it’s not about getting people for Christ. We share what we believe in a loving way. Our goal is just to let people understand what we believe. We want to put J*s in front of people. They have the opportunity to say yes or no.”
Gorelik hopes that Christians will come to Thursday’s lecture to have their views heard.
“The center invites all evangelical groups to come and challenge and be challenged at this lecture. This includes all groups on campus and in the community who feel it’s important to proselytize to Jewish people,” Gorelik wrote in an e-mail.