Tom Cantor wants you to accept the “Jewish Messiah,” and recently sent a troop of college students to Beverly Hills to spread the word, whether you wanted to hear it, or not.
On May 31, according to several Beverly Hills residents, a large white mailing envelope printed with “A Message of Hope and Gladness for Jewish People” was left on the front porch of many households. Though immediately tossed by some, by others, the envelope was opened, and the contents examined.
Inside the package was a softcover book published by Israel Restoration Ministries titled “Frequently Asked Questions By Jewish People,” and a CD “The Testimony of Tom Cantor.” An introductory letter invited the recipient to contact Cantor about additional materials “including covenant scriptures about the Jewish Messiah.”
Cantor, a wealthy businessman, is president and CEO of Scantibodies Laboratories, Inc., in Santee, California, a company based on the creation and harvesting of antibodies used in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
“I was born into a typical Los Angeles Jewish family,” begins his book of which the first page is titled “How a Jew Came to Know and Put his Trust in the Jewish Messiah.”
The distribution was part of a program called the “Summer Blitz,” said Christian, an employee of Israel Restoration Ministries, also located in Santee, who said it was company policy not to give his last name.
“We provide a couple of different groups that pass out these packages across the county that are specifically from Mr. Cantor about his life story, his testimony, and how he as a Jewish man came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior,” said Christian.
“His purpose is to be able to spread that message to other Jewish people as well as others who aren’t Jewish, if it falls into their hands, and spread the message of his conversion to the truth of the messiah.”
The door-to-door “Blitz” is three months long and roughly one hundred different people, a majority of whom are college students, distribute “these sort of packages to all sorts of different communities,” explained Christian.
The distribution is “specific to the Jewish communities but it’s not limited to them,” since it is a “blanket distribution,” said Christian, whose job title is “field ambassador.” In Beverly Hills, the delivery covered a “good portion, or majority of it,” he added.
The Blitz tries to focus on a variety of regions that have a “good population” of Jews, “since Mr. Cantor is a Jewish man, and that’s where his heartbeat is,” said Christian.
This summer there also have been distributions in Chicago, Brooklyn, Houston, and Miami.
As you might expect, challenging a person’s religious beliefs, especially in their own homes, has its challenges.
“I get a lot of calls from people who receive it their homes. We get both extremes. Many are like ‘I would have never by any other method heard about this. Thank you.’” Then there are others who say “‘this is my home, how dare you.’”
On the legal aspect of the distribution, according to Christian “some people ask “‘is it OK to leave stuff at my door?’”
In answer, Christian claimed protection “under the First Amendment, and Freedom of Speech, and religious speech and press. We do fall under the protection where we can do that,” he explained. “Frankly it’s a method of marketing.”
Rabbi Zalman Kravitz, co-director of Jews for Judaism, an organization founded in 1985 “as a response to religious coercion targeting Jews for conversion, and to strengthen and preserve Jewish identity through education and counseling,” acknowledged the challenge for some Jews that organizations like Israel Restoration Ministries present.
“We live in an open market place of ideas and whether it’s someone knocking on your door, or putting a Facebook ad on your social media feed, those who want to share their ideas with you will find a way,” he said.
His response to the Beverly Hills distribution and others like it, was not so much as outrage, as seeing it as an opportunity.
“I try not to focus as much on what they are doing, or why, or how. I focus on what we can do as a Jewish community, and this really guides my work,” he said.
“When someone comes knocking at your door you have two choices: You can totally ignore it. You can say ‘No thank you.’ Or, you can look for a deeper meaning within Judaism, is there something inspirational that we can connect to?”
In preparation for the day when Hebrew Christians come knocking, Rabbi Kravitz suggested a proactive approach of looking “into our own relationship with Judaism and our knowledge base,” and thought his organization’s information base would help to answer questions and build critical thinking.
“When someone comes to us and says your opinion is wrong,” to respond, “we don’t really have the tools or the knowledge to back that up,” added Rabbi Kravitz, who recalled a situation when he put his own tools to use.
“I sat down with about an hour with one of these young people, and we had a very cordial, nice conversation. They had never actually spoken to someone who was Jewish. They never heard the Jewish perspective.”