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Christian Couple Posed As Orthodox Jews To Convert Neighbors

Updated 4:00 p.m.

A couple that had moved to a heavily-Jewish neighborhood in Chicago were actually Christian missionaries who had been trying to pass as Jewish in order to promote their religion, the Jewish news website COLlive reported.

The proselytizers, who went by David and Rivkah Costello, were exposed by a visitor from Brooklyn, New York — because they had been caught lying to the Jewish community in the Williamsburg neighborhood last year and were forced to leave. Rabbi Levi Notik, a rabbi in West Rogers Park, Chicago, informed the community of the scheme.

The Costello moved to West Rogers Park a few months ago, Notik told COLlive, and had completely assimilated to the Jewish community: they prayed in local synagogues and wore traditional Orthodox clothing (David Costello has long peyot, or sidelocks). Rivkah worked as a babysitter for Jewish families.

But Notik said that when he confronted David Costello, he didn’t deny their belief in Jesus – and in fact did not regret their quest.

A newsletter published by a Texas church in 2016 said that the couple hoped to continue their mission “until every Hasidic person has a chance to hear the Gospel.” They have gone by a series of aliases, COLLive reported.

A document from 2016 obtained by JTA said that David Costello worked for Global Gates, an international Christian group whose mission is to reach “the world’s most unevangelized people groups.” Global Gates said in a statement that the Costellos were employed by their organization for less than a year, ending in July 2017. They said they would have no further comment.

Alyssa Fisher is a writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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