Ah… summer in New York City: Central Park concerts, café life, sweaty subways, and who can forget those smiley young boys and girls passing out Jews for Jesus pamphlets. Every year they come with more zeal and more ambition, peddling their product and hoping that someone with a kippah will say yes, now that I have read this beautiful media-savvy pamphlet, I see the light and have accepted Jesus into my life.
Most Jews would like to ban Jews for Jesus outright. Understandably so, they feel threatened by a group trying to make Jews believe something that they know is a social and theological impossibility (On the Jewish understanding of Jesus see Judaism’s view of Jesus, and Irving Greenberg’s more welcoming ideas).
Irrespective of whether or not Jesus was a Jew, a failed messiah, or a prophet, the bottom line remains: it is both socially and theologically impossible to be a Jew and accept Jesus as the messiah.
When I was younger, I used to clench up every time I passed by a Jews for Jesus salesman/woman. But then I realized that they are no different than half of the things sold on Manhattan streets everyday: bad merchandise.
But one cannot, nor should they, try to ban bad merchandise just because its bad merchandise. Lots of things get sold everyday on the street. If there is one thing Jews know it’s that they don’t accept Jesus. The notion that New York Jews en masse are going to be duped by these 20-year-old bright-eyed kids from Middle America is simply preposterous.
Jews for Jesus salespeople are nothing more than used-car salesmen who truly believe the stories they heard from the previous owner. But that does not nor should it make it illegal for them to sell cars.
Personally, I don’t listen to used-car salespeople, and I would tell anyone I know not to give them the time of day. But if it gives a few young folks a chance to get a free trip to the Big City, then good for them. I hope you all are having a good time running around the city telling lies. Just do me a favor when I tell you I am not interested: Leave me alone.