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Evangelical group targeting Jewish people in St. Louis

5:58 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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By Farrah Fazal

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - An evangelical group is targeting Jewish people in St. Louis.  The I-TEAM caught one of the calls on tape.

I-TEAM reporter Leisa Zigman was on the other end. The caller from Israel Restoration Ministries said he had a message of hope and gladness to give her. It sounded a lot more like fire and brimstone.

REPRESENTATIVE: I was calling on behalf of Mr. Cantor. He cares very deeply about the Jewish community so that's why he is sending a free message.
LEISA ZIGMAN: He's looking for Jewish people? And the reason is to do what?
REPRESENTATIVE: Send a message of hope and gladness to the Jewish community.
LEISA ZIGMAN: How did you find my name?
REPRESENTATIVE: From the White Pages, ma'am.
LEISA ZIGMAN: ...And you just look for Jewish sounding names?
REPRESENTATIVE: Yes...Goldberg, Cohen
LEISA ZIGMAN: ...Names like that?

Anti-Defamation League regional director Karen Aroesty said the call was "Definitely targeting, definitely stereotyping and causing a great deal of discomfort." She said several other families reported similar calls to the ADL in the last few months.

"People were startled and in a couple of cases thoroughly intimidated. When you get these calls out of the blue, your first instinct is why me? And if the answer is I have a Jewish sounding last name, that hits you, that hits you where you are," said Aroesty.

NewsChannel 5 researched the Israel Restoration Ministry. Based in Santee, California, its website claims more than 1.5 million volunteers across the country. Tom Cantor leads the ministry. He calls himself a secular Jew who's trying to find the "lost Jewish people of the world" and convert them.

Aroesty said the ministry isn't breaking the law by calling Jewish people with a message.

"There are first amendment protective rights to sharing your speech," she said.

NewsChannel 5 checked the Missouri Attorney General's website and learned the ministry may be breaking the state's do not call law.

Zigman reported the call to the Missouri Attorney General's Office. The AG's spokesman told us they're looking into case. The ADL reported the calls to the FBI. The bureau decided the calls didn't break any federal laws. The ADL wants Jewish families to call them if they are getting the calls.

As a reminder, you can register for the Do Not Call List here.

KSDK

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