Yad L'Achim's emergency hotline was inundated with phone calls last week from Israelis who were shocked to see missionary groups distributing the Books of Psalms to passersby, which appeared to be the same as in the prayer books that Jews are used to seeing in synagogues, stores, homes, and many other settings.
However, these Books of Psalms were phony editions meant to bring Jews away from their faith, the anti-missionary group said.
Activists for the group rushed to distribution points in Tel Aviv and informed passersby as to the true nature of the books, with the result that missionaries who were giving them out left the area as Jews passed them by and refused to accept their “gift.”
The books appeared for all intents and purposes to be regular Books of Psalms, known as tehillim. The books' covers were designed with a motif common to many religious Jewish books – a passage from the Psalms themselves and a picture of a crown – without any indication as to the misleading purpose of the book.
It was only upon opening the book and reading the well-known words that one would detect that something was amiss, said Yad L'Achim. In each of the 150 chapters of Psalms, a clear Christian message was inserted, following the versions that have appeared in Christian versions of the Bible for hundreds of years.
The Yad L'Achim activists gathered books from passersby who had accepted them, and who willingly surrendered them when they heard about how they were tricked. They also called on passersby to avoid the missionaries, explaining the “consumer fraud” they were being subjected to.
A Yad L'Achim spokesperson decried the activity, and demanded that the Knesset adjust laws against missionary activity to cover cases like this.
“We must put an end to these instances of fraud that we see on a regular basis. There is no other way to do this than to pass a law barring missionary activity altogether,” the spokesperson said.