Anti-missionary group warns a Chinese cult that has spread to Israel may be trying to gain a foothold in the haredi community.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Posters from the Chinese Falun Dafa cult, formerly known as Falun Gong, have started appearing in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods in Israel, the Yad L’Achim organization, which fights assimilation and intermarriage, reported this week.
The seemingly innocent posters appear to be the cult’s attempt to move into the haredi world, using a quote from a well-known rabbi in a bid to gain credibility, Yad L’Achim said in a statement on its website.
“The notice cites a halachic ruling of Hagaon Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, regarding murder, in a bid to to lend legitimacy to its activities,” Yad L’Achim said about the posters that allege the Chinese government cuts off the limbs of members of Falun Dafa, often known as the Falun Gong cult the Chinese government, banned in 1999.
“The use of Rav Elyashiv’s psak [ruling], the appeal to “come, let’s daven [pray]” and the reference to a pasuk [Torah passage], is the cult members’ way of gaining entry to the haredi community, in order to expose it to their faith,” a Yad L’Achim official said.
“Please help us to bring this information to the great sages of Israel and her rabbis, to all your friends and family,” the poster stated, giving contact information for the Israeli branch of Falun Dafa.
Falun Dafa has been operating in Israel for years and has spread widely in the secular sector. The cult’s website has Hebrew-language pages that shows it has 25 branches throughout Israel, including cities with large haredi communities like Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
“Even if some of the claims in the ad about the Chinese danger are correct, it is our obligation to make the public aware that it is likely that these ads are meant to serve another purpose: to acquaint people with the cult and its methods,” a Yad L’Achim official said, stressing that Falun Dafa practices include idolatrous ceremonies.
At the cult’s first meeting in Tel Aviv, Israeli followers of Falun Dafa leader Li Hongzhi bowed down to his photo. The cult promises that those who adhere to its tenets of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance will be protected from evil spirits.
According to Yad L’Achim, many Falun Dafa members are afraid to leave the cult, believing that if they do, they will lose the “protection” it offers.
The cult also pushes its members to avoid doctors and use alternative therapies that it recommends, which has led to many members dying, including at least one Jewish woman, Yad L’Achim noted.