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A Reform Rabbi and a Kabbalist on Why Judaism Has No Missionaries

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Buddhists, Christians and Muslims each grew from a few thousand people into the many tens of millions who live in the world today, while Jews and Zoroastrians did not. The number of Jews, even before the Holocaust, was only three times the number of Jews in the first century, and the number of Zoroastrians (called Parsees in India) in the 20th century was much smaller than it was in the first century.

Jews usually explain their steadily decreasing percentage of the world’s total population in terms of a long history of persecution, forced apostasy and physical slaughter. But there is another important factor that is almost always overlooked. While Buddhism, Christianity and Islam are missionary religions; Judaism and Zoroastrianism are definitely not.

The spread of Buddhism from India to China; the spread of Christianity throughout Europe; and the spread of Islam from Morocco to Indonesia were all the result of missionary activities. These activities still continue. Half of all Koreans have become Christians in the last half century because of Protestant missionaries.

In less than 200 years, Mormon missionary activities produced a Mormon population equal in size to a Jewish population that was born more than 3.000 years earlier.

Jews and Zoroastrians, who have never engaged in major missionary activities, have remained largely confined to the descendants of the nation in which they originated. For example, Jewish and Parsee communities in India and China were descendants of immigrants; and not descendants of converts, as are almost all Christians and Muslims in India and China today.

This does not mean that Jews and Zoroastrians were, or still are a pure race. Anyone who visits Israel knows that Jews from Ethiopia look mostly like Ethiopians, and Jews from........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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