Above all one should think critically, a controversial rabbi told a group of about 60 community members gathered in the Lory Student Center on Thursday night.
“What do you do before crossing the street?” asked Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz, an expert on Christian polemics, missionaries and cults. “You look both ways.”
Kravitz, founder of Jews for Judaism International Inc., also teaches reading the Bible or Torah in the original language and in context to find the intended meaning.
His speech focused on what he called “deceptive efforts to target Jews for conversion.”
As a chaplain and crisis counselor of the Los Angeles Police Department, Kravitz’s most often asked question from Christian Evangelists is, “Why don’t you believe in Jesus?’
He responds with opposition from those who raise pressing arguments of any Bible passage as well as encouraging the same with any challenging party.
Kravitz expressed his hopes for being able to be respected as a Jew and being valued as a complete person. The most often used accusation fired his way is the perception that he is an incomplete Jew and person without a belief in Jesus, he said.
Although Kravitz wears a yarmulke to signify his “Awe of God,” (the literal meaning of the name) he was once approached by a Christian evangelist, he said, who called him Bensatan, meaning child of Satan.
Daniel Limbert, a senior horticulture major and co-president of Chabad Jewish Student Services on campus, said he has never felt persecuted for his faith.
“I have experienced more ignorance (toward the Jewish faith),” Limbert said.
Sage Morris-Greene, a senior philosophy major and co-president of Chabad Jewish Services, said the event would provide more information for the Jewish students members of the community.
“I say ‘live and let live,” Morris-Greene said. “It says in the Torah to let others pursue other religions if they choose.”
Some community members say they came to listen to Kravitz because of his passion for counseling Jews involved in cults and Christian missionary groups.
Kravitz rendered an analogy of how reading out of context, say from the Bible or the Torah, can lead to disaster.
“Let’s mix ammonia and chlorine,” he said. “Without reading the headline ‘What not to do in Chemistry lab.'”
Staff writer Emily Lance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.