New information has been revealed about the shocking case of an English-speaking Chareidi family who integrated into the English-speaking Chareidi community in French Hill as well as the broader religious community in Jerusalem, and was revealed on Sunday to be Christian missionaries, B’Chadrei Chareidim reported.
The father, Michael, even learned in the past in the Kollel of the Mekubal HaRav Banyahu Shmueli, but following the intervention of anti-missionary figures, he was kicked out of the Kollel.
Meanwhile, Michael was born to a Christian family from New Jersey. His father, William Thomas Elk, who died in 2006, was a member of the Friendship Mennonite Church in Carneys Point, New Jersey. In the past, he taught Christianity in Seattle and presided at Christian weddings.
Currently, Michael works at a gym in Jerusalem that is affiliated with a Christian organization and has reportedly tried to spread Christianity there.
Michael was already investigated by anti-missionary figures six years ago and even admitted to being a missionary but promised to halt all his activities. Since his identity has been known to some for years, including the Yad L’Achim organization and the anti-missionary Beyneynu organization, it’s hard to understand how the family ended up successfully integrating into the community in French Hill but that’s exactly what happened.
Michael presented himself as a Kohen, wrote Tefillin and mezuzos and his children were accepted to Chareidi schools. The story began unraveling only in the past month or two, following the untimely death of the mother from cancer. The community rallied to the family’s side and raised tens of thousands of dollars for them.
The Beyneynu organization said that they have been investigating the case for a long time and were about to reveal the story in the next several days but meanwhile one of the children slipped at school and the whole story blew up.
The 13-year-old daughter of the family [whose Bas Mitzvah was made with community assistance while the mother was fighting cancer], recently told her friend at school that “Jesus accepts everyone. Even if you made a mistake, he’ll accept you.” The shocked classmate told her parents and they immediately began investigating and contacting those who know the family.
Shannon Nuszen of Beyneynu, who specializes in tracking missionaries who disguise themselves as Jews, said that their case has been known for years. In 2014, they discovered the family trying to be “mekareiv” Jews to Jesus on social media networks. They confronted the father, Michael and he admitted that he’s a missionary but he promised to halt all of his missionary activities. The organization continued to track him but one day completely lost track of him. Meanwhile, he and his family had moved to French Hill and begun integrating into the community.
Nuszen said that the children were partners in everything. They knew they were Christians and they played the game well but last week, as mentioned above, one of the girls mentioned Jesus by mistake.
Nuszen explained that before publicizing the story, they were obligated to ensure that all the facts were 100% correct. “We can’t inculpate an entire family of being missionaries without scrutinizing every detail first – it can cause damage to future generations. So we consulted with Rabbanim and askanim, we examined their roots, and we revealed the truth.”
She also said that “our information shows that there is no sign or proof that the family has Jewish roots. If Michael claims otherwise, he should prove it together with a permit from the Interior Ministry. We don’t have access to the computers of the Interior Ministry. They have no proof that they’re Jews while we have proof that they’re non-Jews.”
The mother, who was also proven to have no Jewish origins, passed away from cancer before Purim and was buried on Har HaMenuchos with a full Jewish funeral.
A statement from Beyneynu says that for more information, please contact Shannon Nuszen, Beyneynu- 058-405-3533 or [email protected]. Rav Avi Elbaz of French Hill is also involved in the case.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)