The Orthodox Jewish community living in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood was scandalized by the recent exposure of a Christian living as one of them for years.
Michael Elkohen, who was born as Michael Elk, was already exposed six year ago in another Orthodox community, and consequently moved to French Hill, where he somehow managed to again hide his identity. According to Orthodox news portal Hadrei Haredim, the US-born Elk entered Israel as Elkohen with forged documents showing he is a Jew.
Over the years he was able to convince the Orthodox that he is also a certified Mohel, a Jew trained in the practice of brit milah, the “covenant of circumcision.” He also presented himself as a Scribe. Both these occupations allowed him, his wife, and their five children to fully integrate into the Orthodox community. And if it weren’t for his children telling school peers that they believe in Jesus, Elkohen would have continued to live undetected as an Orthodox Jew.
In the video below, Elkohen is seen during the circumcision ceremony of his son.
Even from this video it is pretty clear that Elkohen was not born into an Orthodox family. Still, they embraced him as a repentant Jew. And following the recent death of his wife, the community opened up a charity fund for his family, also because they knew the Elkohens have no family in Israel. In addition, Michael Elkohen started his own internet fund raising campaign.
The Hadrei Haredim piece also says that he was a missionary, a most hateful activity in the eyes of the Orthodox. However, from what I know, Elkohen was probably shunned by the Israeli Messianic community, that as a whole resents Messianic Jews who keep the Law (Torah), let alone Gentiles who do so. Elkohen is therefore probably a loner who, for whatever reason, convinced himself that he is a Jew. In truth he is one of many Christians who believe they should keep the Mosaic Law, some of whom go to the extreme of living like Orthodox Jews.
The report further noted that Elkohen lived a double life. He had two Facebook pages (now erased), one for Jews and one for his Christian friends. And from what I have learned, he continued to associate with some Messianic Jews, like the owner of the ATOS Jiu Jitsu academy in Jerusalem. According to the information I was able to obtain, there are others like Mr. Elk, who live in Israel as Jews, some going so far as to adopt an Orthodox lifestyle. Many more such wannabe Jews are living in the US, some of whom present themselves as Orthodox rabbis. A few of those even lead Messianic congregations.
Though some might be tempted to think there is nothing wrong with this kind of behavior, which supposedly follows the concept of “to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law,” let’s just say that this kind of understanding turns Paul into a con artist. To better appreciate the problem with such people, think how you would have reacted if an upstanding member of your local church turned out to be a Muslim who prays to Allah five time a day in the privacy of his home. Even with best intentions, wannabe Jews are still deceivers, plain and simple.
I called Michael Elkohen a few times, left a message on his voicemail, to give him a chance to tell his side of the story, but to no avail.