December 4, 2008
Jewish Missionaries in Mumbai
Terror targets had a unique ministry.
Before short-term missions became all the rage in evangelical global outreach, the standard was career missions, where cross-cultural workers would spend decades learning the language and culture of a people in order to share the gospel. In the 19th century many missionaries to Africa, for example, came with their own coffins, never expecting to leave.
Lucette Lagnado's article in the Wall Street Journal on Judaism's Chabad Movement brought to mind some similarities:
Tragically, the burial plots will be used in Mumbai sooner than expected. The Muslim militants who murdered 171 people also attacked the Chabad House in India's financial capital. Among the dead were Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, Rivka.
Perhaps the most telling story I've heard about Chabad emissaries is that some will buy burial plots once they arrive at their distant outposts: It is a gesture to the community -- and perhaps also to themselves -- that they have come to stay.
Lagnado opens a window to a fascinating and important development in today's Judaism.