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Are missionaries
targeting the elderly?
• B)! RACHEL GEIZHALS Gerlich told Maxwell she knew a
Polish immigrant, Adina Higa, who
Holocaust survivor in Israel could talk to Sara in her native Polish .

A suffering from dementia was


recently deceived by those hired
to help her, family members said ,
clairning the workers converted her to
their Christian religion .
After a while, Maxwell suggested that
Higa sing Polish folk songs with
Gerlich's piano accompaniment .
About six weeks after Sara's death five
months ago, Gerlich and Higa came by to
The two women hired to play music speak with Maxwell about what they did
and speak with 94-year-old Sara told her with her mother .
daughter Goldie Maxwell weeks after Sara Gerlich gave Maxwell a three-page
died that they were both Messianic Jews , document about her work with Sara .
GOLDIEMAXWELL and her ‫ו‬ate mother
had played and sung songs from the New Halfway through, Gerlich wrote : "1
Sara, who she says was abused by her
Testament when Maxwell and her hired Chrlstian compnions . noticed that whenever Adina began to
husband were not around, and that at the pray, Sara began to fall asleep, and 1 began
end of her life, Sara had acknowledged an organization devoted to spreading to put my hands on Sara and declare the
Jesus as the messiah. They also recorded Messianism. The women whom Maxwell victory of the messiah on her life and 1
these statements in a document they gave hired were not affiliated with Jews for chased away the demons that were trying
to Maxwell after Sara's death in March . Jesus, whose ernissaries usually stand on to plague her and preventing her from
" 1 sensed that they had betrayed me , streetcomers wearing identifying T-shirts. receiving blessing ."
because 1 let them into the house, but "We're very clear. Everybody knows who At the end, Gerlich concluded, "Sara,
even more the betrayal of my mother we are, what we do," Sered explained. indeed merited in her last days to have a
and of who she was," Maxwell told "This has never been what we do," he said very personal and spedal revelation of
The Jerusalem Post . about underhanded methods. God. May her memory be blessed !"
Orthodox Jews maintain that Many cases may go unreported because Maxwell was aghast, to say the least .
Messianic rnissionaries are targeting and of familial embarrassment, and the Maxwell said she had no inkling that
exploiting helpless people. However, it is sentiment that once someone is dead, this was happening, now finds herself
difficult to determine how widespread nothing can be done, explained Taylor. wondering whether she missed any signs .
this phenomenon is. But Maxwell is speaking out. She is "‫ין‬here was a look on my mother's face
"lt's probably a lot more COI ‫ ת‬on than devastated by what happened to her one day that looked either highly strained
we know," said Penina Taylor, executive mother, upset that it may be happening or frightened," Maxwell said. "In
director of Shomrei Emet Institute for to others, and scared that Messianic hindsight, she may have been trying to
Counter -Missionary Studies . rnissionaries may use her mother's story. register an objection ."
Haredi anti-missionary organization Sara lived with Maxwell and her What makes the case even more
Yad L'Achim (literally, "A Hand to husband in their Jerusalem apartment for disturbing is that Sara was a Holocaust
Brethren") does not have current data about seven years. She was diagnosed with survivor who spent some of the war in a
on the number of missionaries in senior dementia in 1997, became wheelchair- convent pretending to be a Polish gentile .
facilities. However, Binyamin Klugger , bound and physically dependent after a "Your claim that in the last two weeks of
head of the organization's Jerusalem fall in 2001, and in the past few years lost her life my mother came to believe that
chapter, said he knows of many seniors her ability to speak. When Maxwell asked Jesus is the messiah negates the
whose aides spoke with them a social worker to refer a pianist who could fundamental religious beliefs she
incessantly about Messianism . play for her mother, the case manager maintained and later instilled in her
Dan Sered, director of Israel's Jews for recommended Efrat Gerlich, who played children," Maxwell said in a letter to Higa .
Je ~us branch, said Messianic Jews and at local old-ag~ homes. The case manager, " Her silence, andher complete
Jews for Jesus are often thought of as an Orthodox~Jew, did not know about helplessness "enabled you to indulge
interchangeable. In fact, Jews for Jesus is Gerlich's beliefs or activities. your fantasy ." •

18 THE /ERUSALEM POST CHRISTIAN E ‫ ןס‬TION I /ANUARY 2010 www.jpost.com/ce