Towards the end of April, the Jewish world was rocked by the revelation that a supposed chareidi rabbi, mohel, and sofer living in Jerusalem, Michael Elkohen, was actually not Jewish at all, and was an undercover Christian missionary named Michael Elk. He had long claimed that he was a baal teshuva from the United States, but it became clear that he had no Jewish ancestry, that he was a believing Christian, and that the so-called yeshiva he had opened, Yarim HaAm, was actually a seminary which was designed to train other Messianic rabbis who would pose as Orthodox Jews while secretly working to transmit a belief in Jesus.
Making the story even more complicated – and, frankly, crazier – is the fact that Michael’s wife, Amanda, died from cancer several months ago in Jerusalem. And, it now turns out, Amanda was also an imposter, pretending with her husband to be a baalat teshuva when, in fact, she is a gentile from Washington State without any Jewish ancestry whatsoever.
Amanda Bradley lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and was a close friend of Amanda Elk’s. In fact, she stayed with her in the hospital the Shabbat before Amanda Elk died. She knows the story of the Elks as well as probably anyone, and is determined to work to make sure that Michael doesn’t try to infiltrate another Orthodox community – which, actually – might be what he’s trying to do. Join Scott as he asks Amanda about the Elks’ story, how she found out the truth, and why this situation is so dangerous.
Stay tuned next week for Part Two, where Scott interviews Rabbi Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism to gain further insight into the ongoing threat of undercover missionaries in Israel.
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Music: “Happy Rock” by bensound.com