The Seed, like all messianic Jewish congregations, used deception and slick marketing to appeal to uninformed Jews, attempting to convince them that it is Jewish to believe in Jesus.
As David Kelsey at Jewcy points out, that same sentence with some minor changes fits Aish Hatorah -- the organization hosting this article! -- to a tee:
Aish HaTorah, like all kiruv congregations, used deception and slick marketing to appeal to uninformed Jews, attempting to convince them that Orthodox Judaism is true.
(Kelsey also points to an example of deception and slick marketing used by Aish HaTorah.)
Aish's lack of self-awareness is only part of the attraction for this article. We also get to see how one of these organizations views the threat of another:
All of this raised the ire of Chaim Feinberg, z"l, a young, fiery Orthodox Jew living in Albany's small Orthodox community. He brought his concerns to Scott Moskowitz, an active member of the Orthodox Jewish student's group at SUNYA. Scott, in turn, raised the issue with Rich and suggested that they endeavor to find a non-Jewish student to join the Seed to investigate its inner workings and tactics.
Why a non-Jewish student? Because Aish knows first-hand how effective missionary techniques can be. Truth, reason, empiricism, all irrelevant. Because Aish knows that with missionary work, the important thing is which organization gets the most face-time with you.
Deciding that finding a non-Jew for the job would be too hard, Rich himself (a Reform Jew) volunteers. Feinberg and Moskowitz, though, were worried. After consulting with a "reknowned" (but anonymous) rabbi agreed with the plan, but established some "strict ground rules":
These rules included the instruction that Rich was not to take a single move without Feinberg's approval, and that after each meeting with The Seed, Rich would need to sit and learn with Feinberg as a sort of deprogramming.
So "learning" with a "fiery, young Orthodox Jew" is DE-programming??
The lack of self-awareness continues:
During that first phone call, Rich and Pastor Birnbaum spent two hours talking. Rich laid the bait: he was lonely, Albany was so gloomy, everybody was so materialistic, he was a twice-a-year Jew who yearned for more spirituality. Birnbaum did not just take the bait, he gobbled it up voraciously. He told Rich that he knew exactly how he felt since he, too, had attended college in Albany.
Is that not the same story given to dozens of chabad rabbis and other kiruv professionals every day?
More on the "deprogramming":
Rich was in constant contact with Feinberg, nearly matching hour for hour the time he spent with The Seed -- deprogramming, learning together, and reporting on the tactics, inner workings, and funding structure of the Seed. At one point Larry Levy, then executive director of Jews for Judaism in Baltimore, was flown in to add his expertise to the deprogramming team working with Rich.
The story goes on from there, with Rich ultimately and triumphantly calling out the Seed organization from the stage of a Purim play "because a Jew is a Jew and never a Christian!" The press gets the story, and Seed ultimately falls apart.
Typically, the story would end there. But Aish apparently wanted to highlight their spectacular lack of self-awareness in the funniest way possible:
Rich had always toyed with the idea of spending junior year abroad and now the idea seemed perfect. He enrolled in Hebrew University. After a few weeks at Hebrew U, the seed of Torah that had been planted in Albany and watered by Chaim Feinberg began sprouting. Why did I travel halfway around the world to study the same things I had been studying in Albany? Rich wondered. What am I doing in the spiritual capital of the world without tapping into anything spiritual?
By the end of September, Rich had enrolled in Aish HaTorah.
King Solomon teaches us "There is a time to plant and a time to uproot that which has been planted." Sometimes, it seems, by uprooting what has been planted, a person also plants anew. While The Seed of Abraham has been relegated to the dustbin of history, Rich Maisel and his family are living a blossoming Torah life.
UPDATE: A "Messianic Jew" responds.