New Testament books placed in Knesset mailboxes

Religious legislators angry at ‘missionary’ actions; organization responsible says books could help MKs expand their knowledge

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

(illustrative photo credit: image of New Testament/Shutterstock)
(illustrative photo credit: image of New Testament/Shutterstock)

Copies of the New Testament were placed in the mailboxes of all 120 members of the Knesset, stirring anger among religious legislators, Israel National News reported on Monday. The organization responsible said they were providing legislators with more Jewish knowledge.

A letter was attached to the book, explaining the reason for delivering it to the MKs. “This book sheds light on the holy scriptures and helps to understand them,” it read. One can “see the connection between the Bible and the New Testament.”

The books were distributed by The Bible Society in Israel, a Christian group which, according to its website, preserves “the eternal Word of God by publishing the Bible, New Testament, and study guides in Hebrew and other languages.

“We hope this book can be of aid and guide you” in your important jobs leading the country, the letter said.

According to the report, the legislators were “surprised” to find the items in their mailboxes, and some expressed anger over the move. MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) told INN she would look into the option of banning such moves in the future. “It’s unthinkable that missionary materials will be distributed in the Knesset,” Hotovely said.

Victor Kalisher, CEO of the society, told INN his organization didn’t mean to offend anyone. “It’s a new project,” Kalisher said of the book, “we sent it to the Knesset and will send it to all the public libraries.”

The religious and ultra-Orthodox Knesset members should honor those who want to read the book, Kalisher said, adding “it could help them expand their own knowledge.”

Kalisher also denied the notion of missionary activity, saying his organization studied and spread the holy scriptures, providing people with knowledge and study tools. There was no intention to “hurt the feelings of Knesset members,” he said. “It’s a Jewish book, written by Jews. To better understand Judaism you need to study the New Testament.”

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