Lutheran missionaries posing as Orthodox Jews moved to Israel

Lying speech is an abomination to Hashem, But those who act faithfully please Him.




(the israel bible)

February 14, 2023

5 min read

A family of Lutheran missionaries moved to Israel and is posing as Orthodox Jews in order to work at converting Jews to Christianity, the non-profit Beynenu reported. 

According to Beynenu, which monitors missionary activities, the Dawson family obtained three-month visas and the family ahs told others that they are working to obtain Israeli citizenship. They are currently living in the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem and are introducing themselves as the Isaacsons. The “Isaacsons’ ‘ dress in the distinctive clothing of Orthodox Jews and the father and son, going by the names Michael and Calev, have beards and peyot (long side curls).

The Dawsons have posed as Jews in several communities over the course of the past twelve years and have been exposed as such in Texas, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Sixteen months ago they were exposed in Phoenix, Arizona attempting to convert Jews to Christianity. 

The men reportedly performed rituals that are only permitted to Jews such as writing Torah scrolls, washing the dead, and conducting weddings, divorces and even conversions. Under Jewish law, none of these rituals are valid if performed by a non-Jew.

The Beynenu organization headed by Shannon Nuszen. Beyneynu investigates these cases and brings them to the public. They were unable to discover that the family had any valid claim to Jewish ancestry nor did they undergo conversion. 

An investigation by the Jewish Chronicle revealed that Michael Dawson grew up in a Lutheran home and he and his wife were married in a Lutheran wedding. The family has attended events held by the Gates of Zion, an Arizona-based missionary organization.

According to a letter sent by investigators at Beyneynu to the Chief Rabbinate’s office in Israel saying, “ “They do not deny their beliefs in Jesus and give detailed explanations regarding their belief that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.”

Beynenu is currently working to prevent them from obtaining citizenship. 

“It is urgent that the Ministry of the Interior act immediately to block these people from receiving any visa that would allow them to continue the damage they are causing to Jewish communities with their insidious agenda,” wrote Nuszen in a letter to the Ministry.

“We know from first-hand reports from Jewish communities and rabbis in the United States that the Dawson/Isaacson family is deceptive, dangerous, and very determined to establish themselves in Israel,” she added. 

In 2019, the Dawsons legally changed their name to “Isaacson”, and began acting as rabbis, judges in Jewish law, scribes, and leaders and teachers in the Bukharian Jewish community of Phoenix.

In Milwaukee, the Dawsons were offered the chance to correct the problem by completing a conversion with Rabbi Michel Twersk, a prominent Hasidic rabbi and the head of the Beth Jehudah congregation in the city. The family refused and fled the community overnight.

The Dawsons obtained a temporary visa to visit Israel and applied for citizenship based on documents from rabbinical authorities in the US attesting to their Jewish identity. The rabbis had issued the documents without proper checks being made to ensure their claims were accurate.

“The rabbis were grossly taken advantage of,” Nuzsen said. “The rabbis were motivated by good will, intending to help a family that was Baal Tshuva [returning to the religion]. The Dawsons intentionally duped them.”

These documents were obtained under false pretenses in which the Dawsons claimed they were Jewish by virtue of ancestry. Professional genealogists obtained through Beyneynu concluded that the entire background claiming Jewish ancestry was entirely fabricated. The father and son both obtained semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Michael Aminov, a rabbi in Arizona. These documents have since been rescinded. 

These documents were obtained under false pretenses in which the Dawsons claimed they were Jewish by virtue of ancestry. These documents have since been rescinded. 

The father and son both obtained semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Michael Aminov, a rabbi in Arizona.

“Michael Aminov gave them semicha, but Aminov is extremely problematic and has himself had his semicha revoked,” Nuszen said. “He has not rescinded their ordination but had no authority to give it in the first place. Beynenu exposed his operation of selling Jewish rituals for obscene amounts in a 2021 investigation. He gave semicha to the Dawsons in order to create his own rabbinic court composed of his own people that was essentially a conversion/marriage/divorce/sofer factory where they made a lot of money.”

“This rabbi is extremely problematic and should be dealt with,” Nuszen said. “But Beyneynu’s focus is missionaries. Not problematic rabbis.”

Nuszen emphasized that it is exceedingly difficult to revoke citizenship even if it is proven that it was obtained fraudulently. Her research revealed that Michael Dawson had performed in theater as a young man.

“This probably helped him in his undercover missionary efforts,” she said.

Rabbi Singer emphasized that their organization was not xenophobic or anti-Christian.

“I try so hard to be charitable towards these people but the way they are going about this is so deeply offensive,” Rabbi Singer explained. “What they are doing destroys families and damages communities. I’m not talking about the average nice evangelical. I am talking about these guys who come here just to infiltrate.”

“It doesn’t bother them that they are causing spiritual damage, violating our religion,” Rabbi Singer said. 

He explained that if they performed a wedding or divorce, neither would be valid and this might lead to Halachic (Jewish law) difficulties concerning the legitimacy of the children. If they wrote holy scribal objects, those objects would not be valid for use by Jews. This would be compounded by the fact that the Jew would be unaware of its status as invalid.

“And to purify the dead under intentionally false pretenses is unthinkable,” Rabbi Singer said. “So even if they didn’t convert any Jews, they’re doing huge damage. They are also learning how to pass themselves off as Jews in order to train more missionaries. They are absolutely destroying any trust Jews could have towards Christians.”

Rabbi Singer explained that there is a misunderstanding that has been perpetuated by the Messianic Jewish movement. 

“They claim that if a Jew accepts Jesus, it is an acceptable form of belief and the Jew does not have to give up his Jewish identity,” he said. “That is absolutely false according to Jewish law. They claim he is a ‘fulfilled Jew’ but that is a lie. They remain ethnically Jewish but it is forbidden for a Jew to believe in Jesus.”

Under Israeli law, a Jew who believes in Jesus is barred from citizenship and may not make Aliyah as a Jew under the Law of Return since they have taken on a new religion.

The Jewish Chronicle interviewed Michael Dawson’s 65-year-old aunt, Marlene Gruenfelder, in Centreville, Maryland. She confirmed that there were no Jewish members of the family, adding that Michael’s mother Linda was raised a Lutheran.

“His brother is Lutheran and is married to a Lutheran minister,” she said, adding that Michael’s mother was also a devout Lutheran.  

She responded to claims by Michael that his grandparents spoke Yiddish and that his maternal grandmother fled Europe in 1937 through Finland to New York.

My mother is a New Yorker, she was born in The Bronx,” she said.”My mother was born here. Her father was Finnish. My father was born in Finland but he was Swedish. They didn’t speak Yiddish, they spoke Swedish.”

A wedding announcement in 1995 in a Palm Springs newspaper shows that Michael and Summer Dawson were married in Trinity Lutheran Church in New Era Michigan. They would later obtain a Jewish marriage certificate under false pretenses.

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