In the Media

70 Jews Leave Missionary Camp
- The Jewish Press

By Doniel S. Wise

NEW YORK - A Christian missionary camp that had mobilized its resources to convert Russian Jewish children received a severe setback when 70 of its 130 campers, heeding the call of a dedicated anti-missionary group, packed their bags and left.

The Evangelist Baptist Camp of Ashford, Connecticut, had attracted the children by charging five dollars a week and providing lavish facilities and Russian-speaking staff members for the unsuspecting campers, mostly from the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn.

Rabbi Hershel Okonov, director of Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe (FREE), first learned of the missionary camp when he offered a thirteen-year-old Russian boy named Sasha a Bar-Mitzvah and a Bris Milah.

"Why do I need a Brie Milah and a Bar-Mitzvah when I'm going to be baptized next week?" Sasha asked, and he informed Rabbi Okonov about the camp he was planning to attend. Rabbi Okonov soon learned to his horror of the other 129 children enrolled in the camp and he immediately set his mind on in emergency rescue plan.

Rabbi Okonov explained how he managed to rescue 70 children so far. "Our first job - to find the parents of the campers - wasn't easy. We had to work fast and with very limited funds. First we organized 15 Russian volunteers. We went to the boardwalk at Brighton Beach to rind out which parents sent their children to this camp."

The volunteers succeeded in locating almost 50 parents who were visited and persuaded to take their children out of the camp." The parents were themselves horrified," said Rabbi Okonov. "Some were so overwhelmed that they undertook to speak to their friends whose children were still in the missionary camp."

Okonov's next move was to go to the camp itself. On the next visiting day, four volunters went to thec amp with a nine-year-old Russian yeshiva student under the pretext of seeking to enroll him in the camp. There they met with many more parents and spoke to many of the children.

The children complained that most of the day was devoted to religious studies, and church attendance was required five times daily. The children also claimed that the counselors hit them with sticks when they misbehaved or refused to go to the church.

The high point came, said Rabbi Okonov, on Thursday, August 11 when Sasha had a Bar-Mitzvah. He, like most of the other children rescued from the missionaries, is now attending a Jewish camp.

Rabbi Okonov is now working on a project to establish a center in the Brighton Beach area to combat the rampant missionary problem. "The Russians arrive in this country with nowhere to turn," Rabbi Okonov said. "The missionaries offer free community programs, schooling, cheap summer camps and free Bible classes in Russian."


Related:

Missionaries themselves acknowledge the success of FREE’s activists in pulling Jews out of the their clutches

Back to Top

In the Media
 The First Night
Lubavitch.com
 The First Night
TheBrooklynInk.com
 Lighting A Fire In The Snow
The Jewish Press
 A Bar Mitzvah in Brooklyn
Lubavitch.com
 The Auspicious Reunion
The Jewish Press
 Russian Jews and The Matzah Factor
Lubavitch News Service
 Rambam Writings In Russian
The Jewish Press
 Congregants Welcome Torah Home
Bay Ridge Courier
 Festival of Lights Shines Over Borough
Courier Life Publications
 Congregants Rejoice In New Scrolls
Courier Life Publications
 Brooklyn Is Showered With Hanukkah Gelt
Courier Life Publications
 Russian F.R.E.E. Choir
Jewish Family Services
 Russians
Encyclopedia of Chicago
 Jan Peerce at Carnegi
New York Times
 Melting pot of Jewish film
Australian Jewish News
 Renewing ties with their religion
Jewish Independent
 Abiding act of faith
The Washington Times
 The Heroic Struggle
The Jewish Press
 The Kindest Cut of All
Urban Gazette
 A Welcome for Refugees
Daily News
 Hanukkah Festivities
The New York Times
 Freedom For the Free
Algemeiner Journal
 9 Russian Jews Baptized
The Jewish Press
 A Nine Year Old Hero
Algemeiner Journal
 Rite for Jewish Males
New York Times
 FREE Services Russians
The Jewish Press
 A Rally of Their Own
The Jewish Week
 Sept. 11: One year later
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
 Russian Jews find home at center
The Cincinnati Post
 Interfaith and FREE celebrate 10,000 bris mila
New Directions (Interfaith Medical Center)
 Helping Hands
New York Newsday
 The Cutting Edge
Baltimore Jewish Times
 Benefit Concert For F.R.E.E.
The Jewish Press
 Rite of Passage
Waverley Council Mayor's Column
 The 10,000th Circumcision
The Flatbush Life
Hebrew
 And it was in the days of Achashveyrosh - Hebrew
Kfar Chabad Magazine
 The FREE organization - Hebrew
Dedushka
 FREE Publishing House - Hebrew
Kfar Chabad
 From Russia to Brooklyn... - Hebrew
Haaretz
Yiddish
 Celebration 85 - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
 FREE opens New Synagogue in Brighton Beach - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
 3000 Russian Immigrats at Purim Celebration - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
 Dinner of Friends of Refugees - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
 FREE - Friends of Russian Jewry - Yiddish
Kol Boro Park
 Report on The Dinner of The Friends of Refugees - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
 Reb Nocum Preger is Honored at FREE’s Dinner - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
 Much dancing at a joyfulness celebration - Yiddish
Algemeiner Journal
Russian
 Gold Chanuka - Russian
Lechaim.ru
 Holiday for Torah in Crown Heights - Russian
Vecherniy New York
 Immigrants' Celebration - Russian
Novoye Russoe Slovo
 Yud Shvat - Russian
Novoye Russoe Slovo

About Us
F.R.E.E. Newsletter
Stay informed by subscribing to F.R.E.E.'s e-mail updates.
Site Tools
 
© 2003-2014 Cong. Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe. All rights reserved.