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NJ man identified as ‘fake rabbi’ infiltrating Israel

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NJ man identified as 'fake rabbi' infiltrating Israel

This man’s alleged religious conversion efforts seem far from kosher.

Rabbi Michael Elkohen, a self-proclaimed “good Jewish boy from New Jersey,” has been outed as the missionary in Jerusalem who led an alleged down-low effort to convert Jews to Christianity, according to a bombshell new report from the Bergen Record.

Born Michael Elk in southern New Jersey’s Salem County, Elkohen moved to Israel in 2006, and spent 15 years allegedly leading a bizarre double life living in an ultra-Orthodox area of Jerusalem. Not only did that include wearing a hat and growing his hair into side curls, but he was also reportedly tapped to perform bris circumcisions and even write Torah scrolls.

Elk, 42, is the father of five children and has been the subject of investigations by two missionary watchdog organizations. He’s called the allegations against him “a lie.” He’s also said that he “was born Jewish” and that, “seven or eight years ago,” he “repented” for his missionary work in the past.

“The family has been under surveillance for at least seven years,” said Shannon Nuszen, a researcher at one organization, Beyneynu, said in a statement to the ultra-Orthodox website Behadrei Haredim, in a report last week that first uncovered Elk’s alleged aims. ‘[We have been] investigating the case of a covert missionary in French Hill for many years,” but opted to go public in 2021 “due to one of the missionary’s children proselytizing in school.”

As also reported in Behadrei Haredim, Elk’s 13-year-old daughter had told a classmate that Jesus Christ “accepts everyone, even if they are wrong.”

According to the Bergen Record, the act of missionizing is allowed in Israel, but there are exceptions. For instance, there’s a ban on proselytizing to children. Elk could face charges including falsifying his identity, immigration fraud and performing ritual circumcisions illegally. In the case of Elk’s daughter, any attempts to convert a minor in Israel are illegal unless there’s parental consent.

‘The idea of these messianic groups is to blur distinctions in order to lure Jews who would otherwise resist the Christian message.’

One of the other watchdog groups monitoring Elk was Outreach Judaism — and its director, Rabbi Tovia Singer, said in an interview that Elk instructed other missionaries on where to go in Israel.

“The idea of these messianic groups is to blur distinctions in order to lure Jews who would otherwise resist the Christian message,” said Singer.

Elk and his late wife, Amanda — who said she was the daughter of Holocaust survivors and died in February of cancer — allegedly moved to Israel with forged documents and with the assistance of Morningstar Missions in South Carolina. The Record reports that Elk seems to have previously worked as a minister in Washington State and attended a Christian college named Eastern University.

Also part of his personal history before heading to Israel: admitting that he had faced a “downward spiral,” which included drinking and a failed marriage.

In Israel, Elk ran a school for Messianic Jews — and, according to the watchdogs’ allegations, wrote anonymous blogs about his work as a down-low evangelist. In a 2011 video for Morningstar Ministries, for example, Elk is seen in observant Jewish clothing and says to “stir the Jewish people to jealousy” and “bring them back to [Jesus] once again.”

Nuszen believes there are some 30,000 missionaries in Israel, as well as 300 groups driven to evangelize Jews and 200 websites that aim for conversion.

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Florida fisherman chased by 11-foot alligator in scary video

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Florida fisherman chased by 11-foot alligator in scary video

A Florida fisherman became the bait when he was chased by an alligator in the Everglades.

GoPro video captured the near-death experience when Tommy Lee was tarpon fishing on May 8.

The 22-year-old was recording himself fishing at sunrise when an 11-foot bull alligator swam onshore. As Lee backed up, the reptile chased him through the brush, getting too close for comfort.

It “stalked me then chased me,” he told ViralHog. “The gator appeared much larger and closer in person. It got within 10 feet of me.”

At one heart-pounding moment, Lee tripped and fell to the ground, but quickly regained his footing and continued to back up.

In the two-minute video, you can hear the frazzled fisherman exclaiming, “Jesus Christ. You gotta be careful here.” But as he lost sight of the deadly creature, he retraced his steps following the animal until it splashed back in the water.

“And I am out of here,” Lee said to himself before grabbing his gear and turning off the camera.

Lee uploaded the shocking clip to his YouTube channel, Chum Dumpster, where it amassed 1.2 million views.

However, it isn’t too surprising that the sharp-toothed creature came out to play. May and June mark mating season for the more than one million alligators that live in Florida.

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KFC hackers jailed in China over $31,000 worth of chicken

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KFC hackers jailed in China over $31,000 worth of chicken

The Chinese students who scored a five-finger-lickin’ discount at Kentucky Fried Chicken — for a total of $31,000 worth of food — are going to prison.

Their scam took place in 2018 after one of them discovered a glitch on KFC’s online order platform, allowing them access to an endless supply of fried chicken.

The five college con artists involved in the grift were handed down a range of sentences by the People’s Court of Xuhui District in Shanghai, from 13 to 30 months, according to Daily Mail and recent Chinese-language reports, with fines set between $150 (1,000 yuan) and $900 (6,000 yuan).

“Being fully aware of this bug, the convicted deliberately engaged in false transactions and illegally profited from them, which constituted the crime of fraud,” court papers read, according to Australia’s 9News.

The group’s 23-year-old ringleader, identified only as “Xu,” defrauded the company out of some $9,000 (58,000 yuan). All told, they stole more than $31,000 (129,000 yuan) worth of food from Yum! Brands, which owns the KFC name.

The simple scheme involved a loophole between KFC’s app and the restaurant’s page on Chinese social network WeChat, which allowed Xu to use a voucher for free food while also being refunded. It’s been reported that Xu later began shilling out the free food he’d reaped as a side hustle.

The case has reportedly sparked debate online, according to Global Times, with some saying that a bug in KFC’s order system is on the corporation — not the customers who reaped the spoils of their mistake.

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Brood X cicadas force businesses, homeowners to take precautions

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Brood X cicadas force businesses, homeowners to take precautions

Brood X, a classification of the trillions of periodical cicadas that have descended in states across the eastern and southern U.S., has emerged after a 17-year hiatus — and already closed one restaurant.

The District of Columbia and the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia are cicada ground zero, reporting sightings earlier than most other states. 

More of the red-eyed, singing insects will appear as ground temperatures warm to 64 degrees and experts say that the bugs come in peace. 

However, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Washington, D.C., announced this week that it was temporarily closing on May 10 in order to “combat” the bugs. 

“We have decided to pause service at Little Pearl for 4 weeks starting May 10th in preparation for ‘Cicada Season,’” Capitol Hill’s Little Pearl wrote in an email to customers, according to The Washington Post. “As we tried to get as creative as possible to combat them this year, we know in good faith that a single 100 decibel cicada will ruin anyone’s dinner experience, a ‘tsunami’ of them will be impossible to control.”

Washingtonian noted that the restaurant offered to reschedule, refund bookings or move diners’ reservations to their sister restaurant Rose’s Luxury.

Rose’s Restaurant Group owner and chef Aaron Silverman told the local magazine that Little Pearl’s closing is also “to renovate, clean, reorganize, up-train, and get all our affairs in order as the pandemic caused so many disruptions.”

In addition, he said that because around 80% of the restaurant’s seating is outdoors in a “heavily vegetative area,” it “seemed like the best window to take advantage of.”

Many businesses have decided to embrace the arrival of Brood X, selling coffee mugs and “Choco-cadas.”

Nevertheless, while the cicadas aren’t dangerous, their presence can be disruptive. 

As WCPO reported on Monday, the cicadas’ loud buzzing sounds may cause emotional or physical reactions in people with autism or with sensory issues.

Furthermore, although cicadas do not bite and are harmless to humans and property, Michigan State University entomologist Gary Parsons notes that their abundance can be a “nuisance” and that — while edible — eating too many could make pets sick.

While cicadas do not intentionally enter homes like ants and spiders, cicada eggs laid in stems and twigs of trees and shrubs often kill twigs and branches. 

Experts advise against using insecticide, as the chemicals will kill other bugs in the process.

The Baltimore Sun reported last week that an effective way to prevent damage on young trees is to enclose them with half-inch mesh netting, though the University of Maryland’s professor emeritus Michael Raupp advises planting next fall. 

Raupp told Fox News in March that people who might be afraid of cicadas should try to learn as much about them as they can.

“Hey, this is a chance to go out in your backyard and have a National Geographic special happening right there,” he said. “It’s going to be birth. It’s going to be death. It’s going to be predation. It’s going to be competition. It’s going to be better than an episode of ‘Outlander.’ There’s going to be romance in the treetops when the big boy band cranks it up.”

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