Reaching people in big cities is always a challenge and concern for the World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center in Jerusalem. It’s estimated that there are 13 to 15 million Jews in the world today and that most of them live in large cities.
The history of the Jews has helped shape them as an urban people. During Medieval times it was forbidden for Jews to buy land or property so they started businesses in cities. During times of persecution, they fled from city to city. When they immigrated from Europe or the Middle East to the western world, they settled in big cities.
The Jews built the new city of Tel Aviv in 1910. Today it’s the largest metropolitan area of Israel and home to the second largest population of Jews in the world, about 2 million.
The first largest is the United States with more than 6 million. New York City alone has a population of 2.3 million, while Miami has 600,000 and Los Angeles 500,000.
The third largest Jewish population can be found in and around Paris with between 350,000 to 400,000. Next comes London (200,000), then Toronto (175,000), Montreal (95,000), Buenos Aires (175,000), Moscow (110,000), São Paulo (80,000), Johannesburg (75,000), and Melbourne (70,000).
It is our goal at the World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center to continually establish projects in these big cities. We’re currently operating 29 congregations in the United States, 28 in Israel, 6 in Brazil, and others in Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Holland, Ukraine, and Uruguay.
Leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently endorsed a plan to evangelize the world’s cities, beginning in 2013 with New York.
In conjunction with this effort, the World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center is working with Ralph Ringer, the North American Division Jewish Ministry coordinator, and other leaders to reach the 2.3 million Jews living there. During the past 10 years Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov has led a successful work among the Russian immigrants in New York. Our goal is to reach all American Jews living in Metropolitan New York.
Our Jewish ministry in São Paulo is very encouraging. This work was started by Dr. Reinaldo Siqueira about 12 years ago. Dr. Siqueira built a strong relationship with the Jewish community and the Chief Rabbi of the city.
A few years ago São Paulo’s Jewish Adventist members understood that if they wanted to have more impact among the Jews of the city they had to install their synagogue in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood. It was an act of faith because property is very expensive. But eventually they bought a building close to the São Paulo Arena and a public university. This building (pictured below) is currently being renovated and we hope to dedicate it later this year.
In addition to being a Jewish Adventist Synagogue this building will serve as a study center linked to the Adventist University of São Paulo. Jews like to progress in their knowledge of the Bible and Jewish tradition. We’re sure that this study center will become a well-known center in São Paulo for Jewish studies, and that through these studies people will learn more about Judaism in the time of Jesus and about Jesus Himself as the Messiah of Israel.
One of our most recent projects is in Paris where there are between 350,000 to 400,000 Jews. For many years it has been a challenge to start a new Jewish Adventist congregation there. Working with the Adventist leadership in France, we have created a strategy for this new ministry. It was very encouraging to have our first worship in January with 30 people in attendance.
Our objective at the beginning of this work is to worship with people who are interested in learning how to sing and pray in Hebrew. We’re currently creating a French-Hebrew prayer book to be sure that when Jews join us for worship, they’ll feel at home.
Jewish Adventist Communities in 2012
United States: 29
We have scheduled a big evangelism event called “Impact Tel Aviv 2013.” Under the leadership of Pastor John Lascu, the committee has already created mission and vision statements for this campaign.
The mission statement says, “Our mission as Seventh-day Adventists in Tel Aviv is to make disciples by sharing the everlasting good news of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah) as revealed in the Bible, bringing a message of healing and peace, doing good to everyone, and preparing them for Mashiach’s coming.” We want to follow the example of Jesus who was known as a man anointed by God, full of the Holy Spirit, and who “went around doing good and healing all” (Acts 10:38).
World Jewish Population
World Population: 14 Million
Diaspora: 8.3 Million
Israel: 5.7 Million
North America: 6.5 Million
Europe: 1.2 Million
South America, Africa, Asia, Australia: 0.6 Million
Jesus had great success among the Jews of His time. People were amazed by His teaching and deeds. The Jews of Jerusalem welcomed Him on Palm Sunday a few days before the crucifixion. On the day of Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit three thousand Jews were baptized. The book of Acts is full of the successes of the disciples blessed by the Holy Spirit.
Even though reaching the Jews living in big cities is a challenge, we are full of hope about this ministry. It is a ministry in accordance with God’s will so we are confident of His blessing.
Please pray for the ministry of Global Mission’s World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center as we work to minister to the needs and hearts of our Jewish brothers and sisters. Richard Elofer Director, World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center, Jerusalem
The World Jewish-Adventist Friendship Center is one of five Global Mission Religious Study Centers around the world. To learn more about them, visit www.AdventistMission.org.
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