If you have received a purple envelope in the mail recently containing a book, that you did not order, you are not alone. In fact the book, Changed, by an author named Tom Cantor, has been sent to Jews nationwide since as early as 2013.
If I have my dates correct, my wife and I received one in March of 2018.
Recent posts and comments on social media indicate Cantor, and his Israel Restoration Ministries, a San Diego-based ministry, is re-focusing efforts on St. Louis, to persuade Jews to become Jewish Christians.
"Just FYI, I received this book Changed by Tom Cantor a few weeks ago in the mail. I read it last night not realizing what it was about until halfway though. It seems to be hitting the STL area now. I don’t recommend it," wrote one St. Louis woman on Facebook.
This is not the first time the St. Louis Jewish community has been targeted with unsolicited books focusing on conversion. In 2013, a book titled, “They Thought for Themselves: Ten Amazing Jews,” by Sid Roth, arrived at the homes of an unknown number of St. Louis area Jewish residents.
Rabbi Hershey Novack of Chabad House at Washington University and his wife, Chana, were among the Jewish recipients of Roth’s book.
“We thought it was funny that they sent it to us,” Novack said, quipping that the book is “ecologically unfriendly” — a waste of paper."
So, what exactly is Cantor's book about and why is he sending it unsolicited to Jews around the country?
According to the Jewish News in Detroit, Cantor is a successfull businessman from California and was raised Jewish. In his book, Changed, he tells of his journey from a rebellious child to troubled teen to an adult filled with anguish and despair. “My sins were so many that when the call came in the Yom Kippur service to remember them, I really didn’t know where to start,” he writes about his childhood.
The story continues on a dark path, as Cantor describes his belief that his marriage to his non-Jewish wife, Cheryl, will somehow cleanse him. “At last, a union with her was going to liberate me from my own guilt, shame and despair,” wrote Cantor. However, after his wife was raped and became pregnant, Cantor writes that her ability to "cleanse him" had vanished and his search for cleansing, led him to the church. He writes, “I did not have to obey a set of kosher laws for what not to eat. To be cleansed all I had to do was just believe and receive Jesus Christ as my Passover lamb.”
Books In The Mail
According to Randell Angius, a spokeswoman from Cantor’s medical company, Scantibodies Laboratory Inc., Cantor purchased names and addresses from mailing lists. Many are Jewish, but some are affiliated with churches as well. “I thoroughly apologize if you were offended,” she said, “He wants to share his story to inspire people to invite Christ into their hearts.”
Many who have recieved the book have taken to social media to voice their feelings and alert others about the book.
Michal Levison, a member of Temple Emanuel in New Jersey, was not pleased with the unsolicited proselytizing.
“The rampant anti-Semitism that is growing daily in this country is frightening. Now, I’m being attacked in my own home with this — encouraging me to go from lost and defiled (being Jewish) to found and cleansed (Christian)," said Levinson. "Why are millions of dollars being spent to convert Jews in this country? Hello, modern-day Crusades. When will the Inquisition begin?”
Back here in St. Louis, reactions have been similiar.
"We received some similar book a few years ago. Don’t remember if it was this particular one. After a cursory glance, we tossed it into recycling," said one Jewish woman from St. Louis.
" I wanted to VOMIT when I realized what this absolutely repulsive story was about. His wife was raped before they were married so HE carried this shameful secret for 50 years?!?!? What about his WIFE!?????" said another.
Carolyn Normandin, of the ADL in Michigan, said these mailings are proselytizing, which is usual for some religious organizations. When asked if this was antisemitic, she said no. “Generally, proselytizing is not antisemitic in nature. It is offending, but not threatening.”
Angius says Cantor have received hundreds of positive responses, mostly from churches. However, she admitted Cantor has received many negative responses from people who have received the book. “Not as many, but fairly close” to the number of positive responses. “It was not his intention to offend anyone,” she said.
To be removed from Tom Cantor’s mailing list, call (619) 258-9300 x5194 or email email@example.com.