Evangelist Ruth Carter Stapleton, sister of the president, is under fire both Jewish and Christian groups for agreeing to address an organization committed to converting Jews to Christianity.
Stapleton is the scheduled keynote speaker for a national gathering of B'nal Yeshua - Hebrew for Sons of Jesus next month at the group's headquarters on Long Island in New York.
B'nai Yeshua is an aggressively evangelistic movement of jewish converts to Christianity who lean heavily on their Jewish heritage in their efforts to convert other Jews. Traditional Jewish leaders as well as most liberal Christian bodies repudiate missionary efforts directed at jews, although most evangelical Christians consider the jews fair game for conversion.
Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, has written asking Stapleton to cancel her appearance, charging that B'nai Yeshua's evangelical campaign "constitutes an ultimate threat to the spiritual liquidation of the Jews."
He accused B'nai Yeshua of using the concepts, traditions and practices of Judaism "in an altogether deceptive and at times fraudulent manner in order to ensnare unsuspecting or ignorant Jewish young people."
An even stronger letter from the American Jewish Congress told Stapleton that B'nai Yeshua was trying to "exploit the name of the sister of the president of the United States . . . to convert us from the faiths of our fathers."