Michael and Calev Isaacson, a father and son posing as Orthodox Jewish rabbis across the country, have been revealed to be Christians following investigations by anti-missionary watchdog groups.
According to Beyneynu, a non-profit organization that monitors missionary activity in Israel, as well as a follow-up investigation backed by The Jewish Chronicle, Michael and Calev Isaacson were actually born Michael Dawson and Calev Dawson. The two never converted to Judaism, and have been posing as Orthodox rabbis throughout Phoenix, Az.
The father and son duo have performed sacred rituals in Orthodox Jewish communities such as weddings, washing the dead, blowing the shofar, and even conversions. Since the two have been uncovered in some sort of fraudulent scam, all their activity has been deemed invalid.
Anti-missionary watchdog groups such as Beyneynu have since accused Michael and Calev Isaacson of being a “sleeper cell” of evangelical Christian missionaries, attempting to embed themselves within Orthodox Jewish communities.
According to The Jewish Chronicle, extensive research found no traces of Jewish heritage in their family. Michael Dawson and his wife, Summer, were brought up Lutheran and married in a Lutheran church.
For the past 12 years, Michael and Calev Isaacson have been practicing as fraudulent rabbis throughout Arizona, Washington, Texas, Oregon, and Milwaukee.
Israeli chief Rabbinate’s office told investigators that when confronted with the allegations in the past, the Isaacson’s told them that “They do not deny their beliefs in Jesus and give detailed explanations regarding their belief that Jesus is the Jewish messiah.”
When questioned too heavily, the family allegedly moves to a new city in America. According to The Jewish Chronicle, they have acquired multiple false documents from rabbis attesting to their Jewish heritage without the proper investigative background checks, which has allowed them to continue their practice in Phoenix, Az.
In the past, Michael and Calev Isaacson have denied any involvement in being Christian missionaries.
The father and son wrote to the Israeli chief Rabbinate’s office that they, “reject missionary tactics and do not support any person or organization who seeks to target or convert Jews away from the Jewish faith, heritage and birthright.”
An unnamed, concerned source told The Jewish Chronicle that in response to an email they sent asking about their heritage, they responded saying that they both “left the religion of Christianity when the truth of its pagan practices was revealed to us by G-d, however, we will never reject or deny the name of the Messiah.”
“We’re not here to missionize, but to learn,” they wrote, which is why they “kept silent and only answered the questions that we were asked.”
The father and son’s comments only aroused more suspicions however, with many watchdog groups asking why they were posing as Orthodox rabbis and teaching if they wanted to join the community to “learn.”
Speaking with Michael’s aunt, Marlene Gruenfelder, 65, she told The Jewish Chronicle that their actions seemed “bizarre.”
Living in Maryland, she was surprised to hear of her nephew’s activity, revealing that the family had been the Dawson’s up until 2019 when they legally changed their name to Isaacson.
“No, my family is not Jewish,” she revealed. “[Michael’s] brother is Lutheran and is married to a Lutheran minister.”
She said that Michael is not very good at keeping in touch with family, and that the two had not spoken for quite some time.
“It’s shocking to see he’s changed his name and the kids,” she said. “It blows my mind.”
Back in June, The Jewish Chronicle and Shannon Nuszen, Beyneynu’s founder, uncovered another Christian missionary posing as an Orthodox rabbi in Jerusalem. After Michael and Calev Isaacson, many investigators believe there could be some strange movement for missionaries imbedding themselves in Jewish communities.
“What we’re seeing recently is a level of infiltration that the Jewish community has never seen before, so we don’t even understand what we’re up against,” Shannon Nuszen said. “It’s new to the Jewish world.”