An Arizona father and son who have performed Jewish rituals as Orthodox rabbis in several communities in the US and abroad have been accused of being a ‘sleeper cell’ of evangelical Christians whose ultimate goal is to bring about the second coming to the Holy Land.
Michael and Calev Isaacson, who changed their family name from Dawson, have performed sacred Jewish rituals like writing holy scrolls, washing the dead and even conducting weddings and conversions in Arizona, Wisconsin, Texas Oregon and even Poland.
However, reporters and anti-missionary investigators say that neither man has traceable Jewish heritage nor any record of a conversion. If the claims prove true, than any rituals they performed would become invalid.
Some rabbis fear an even darker purpose for the Isaacsons actions. They worry father and son are Messianic Jews, people who live as Orthodox Jews but believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and hold a desire to convert Jews to Christianity in an effort to bring about the second coming, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
An Arizona father and son who have performed Jewish rituals as Orthodox rabbis in several communities in the US and abroad have been accused of being a sleeper cell that is actually trying to convert Jews to Christianity
This photo, provided by anti-missionary investigators, show Isaacson on the left both pre- and post-identification as an Orthodox Jew
Michael and Calev Isaacson (pictured) allegedly changed their surnames from Dawson in 2019
The Israeli paper revealed in May how a fake rabbi and his family were operating in Jerusalem alongside a network of other Messianic Jews embedded in Israeli Orthodox communities.
Investigators from Beyneynu – an anti-missionary group – have found no proof that the Isaacsons are trying to convert Jewish people to Christianity but the pair have refused to say they don’t believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah when confronted.
Michael Isaacson – then known as Michael Dawson – was raised Lutheran and got married at a Lutheran church in Michigan, the paper found.
Isaacson’s aunt, Marlene Gruenfelder, called her nephew’s claims about his heritage ‘bizarre.’
Beyneynu investigators have written to officials that the family has been questioned over rumors about their beliefs in the past. They say that immediately after being asked, they have up and left their communities, only to find another.
In Texas, Michael Isaacson was a supervisor for the Kashrut Organization in Houston, a non-profit organization offering kosher supervision and certification.
They’ve also led prayers and given religious lessons while hosting Jewish guests.
The family, which currently lived in Phoenix, was able to build a Jewish identity by getting documentation from rabbis to prove they were Jewish without proper checks made to prove it.
They were first suspected of fraud from a post on Gates of Zion, a Messianic website, that said they were going to attend a Shabbat event.
Reporters emailed the Isaacson family and directly confronted them about their beliefs.
‘We do not reject Yeshua [Jesus] the Jewish Messiah,’ adding ‘We have no doubts concerning the identity of the Messiah.’
Investigators from Beyneynu — an anti-missionary group — have found no proof that the Isaacsons are trying to convert Jewish people to Christianity but have refused to say they don’t believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah when confronted
Some with the group worry that the Isaacsons are Messianic Jews, people who live as Orthodox Jews but believe that Jesus is the Messiah and hold a desire to convert Jews to Christianity in an effort to bring about the second coming
However, they insist that they’re not attempting to convert people to Christianity. They’re merely in an ‘ongoing process of return’ to Judaism and reject any missionary tactics and do not support anyone trying to ‘target or convert Jews away from the Jewish faith, heritage and birthright.
They added that they ‘were not here to missionize, but to learn’, saying that is why they ‘kept silent and only answered the questions that we were asked’.
They said they had bailed on Christianity ‘when the truth of its pagan practices was revealed to us by God, however, we will never reject or deny the name of the Messiah.’
The Isaacsons have attempted to prove these claims false by providing a written history of their family background and involvement with Jewish individuals and communities.
The document claims Michael’s family originally emigrated to America from Finland, where his mother’s family had been called Isaacson.
It adds that they ‘fled Europe in 1937 through Finland to New York’, but Michael’s aunt claims the family arrived in the US many years earlier and that her mother was born in the Bronx.
The document also argues that Michael’s grandparents on his mother’s side spoke Yiddish, and maintained Jewish traditions, including making challah. His aunt also says this is a lie.
‘No, my family is not Jewish,’ adding that Michael’s mother Linda was raised a Lutheran,’ said Greunfelder, 65, adding that Michael’s brother is Lutheran and married a Lutheran minister.
A 1995 wedding announcement shows that Michael and Summer Dawson were married in Trinity Lutheran Church in New Era Michigan
The Trinity Lutheran Church in Michigan is where Michael and Summer were married, with a rabbi saying he performed a Jewish wedding for them in 2013
The Dawson family changed their surname to Isaacson in August 2019.
Gruenfelder says her nephew is ‘not one for communicating’ and they don’t speak much.
What she did note is that Michael used to love to act and took classes in high school.
‘It’s strange… This is bizarre. So this is legitimate? Their name is Isaacson now?’
‘It’s shocking to see he’s changed his name and the kids. It blows my mind.’
Community members say that Summer Isaacson has also claimed to have longstanding Jewish heritage, saying her family were Marranos, people who were forced to convert during the Spanish Inquisition.
However, an investigation has shown that Summer’s great grandmother was baptized in Mexico, which means she would have had to convert to Judaism to be considered Jewish.
A 1995 wedding announcement shows that Michael and Summer Dawson were married in Trinity Lutheran Church in New Era Michigan.
They would later obtain a Jewish marriage certificate in 2013 from a Dallas rabbi, telling the rabbi they became religious after their non-Jewish marriage.
At their request he carried out a Jewish wedding for them.
Rabbi Rich has since said he didn’t know of their true background and would ‘readily renounce his signature’.
An anonymous, Orthodox Jewish teacher who has met the family says that what they’re doing is ‘not normal behavior, people don’t move that way’ and that they’ve moved on leases and left landlords hanging.
The teacher believes the Isaacsons want to creat ‘a backstory’ that will allow their children to marry Jews and believes they are part of a wider Messianic plan to create a sleeper-cell of fake religious Jews in Israel:
‘There is some movement afoot … for some reason, they need there to be an Orthodox looking, observant, Christian body in Israel. I don’t know exactly how this fits into their Messianic scheme, or the whys, but this seems to be what they’re doing,’ he added.
Michael Isaacson has not responded to requests for comment.