The Mormons and Genealogy

Lately I have been reading the blog Bell Out of Order. If you enjoy reading about cults, it is a must read. The author recently posted a partial transcript of the 1996 retreat that was the first big meeting that Jack conducted after he came out of hiding. 

I read the transcript and it reminded me just how easily Jack would slip in lies and spin yarns without anyone challenging him. 

Jack stated that, “In Salt Lake City, records are kept by the Mormons for their own purposes – to prove descendancy from Israelites.” If you have ever studied the beliefs of the LDS Church, you know that what Jack casually attempted to pass off as fact was a complete fabrication.

Here is an excellent explanation from PBS as to why the LDS Church is so interested in genealogy:

“One of the core tenets of Mormon faith is that the dead can be baptized into the faith after their passing. Baptism of the dead evolved from the beliefs that baptism is necessary for salvation and that the family unit can continue to exist together beyond mortal life if all members are baptized.

Mormons trace their family trees to find the names of ancestors who died without learning about the restored Mormon Gospel so that these relatives from past generations can be baptized by proxy in the temple. For Latter-day Saints, genealogy is a way to save more souls and strengthen the eternal family unit.”

Before I left the cult, I would hear Jack’s teachings quoted or the teachings of other high-ranking cult members and notice that much of what they said was completely contrary to readily available facts. It bothered me at the time, but I would rationalize their moronic statements in ways that only cult members or other brainwashed groups can do. It wasn’t until I found out about the abuses that Jack and other members had been involved in that had been hidden from us that I was able to see that all of these statements were created to hold us in a prison of belief. 

Doomsday Cult Questions

A few days ago a reader left the following questions for a research project they are working on about doomsday cults:

Hello all. I’m currently completing year 12, and as a compulsory part of our study, we have to undertake a research project. I’ve chosen to do mine on Religious Doomsday Cults, and was hoping that some of you could please answer a few questions that I have? My specific focus question is “Why do people join Doomsday Cults, and how can this impact on their lives?”
I have to let you know that by answering these questions, you are giving me permission to include the information given in my research, but rest assured that all information will remain confidential at all times.
1. How old were you when you initially joined a doomsday cult?
2. How were you approached/ invited to join?
3. What were your reasons for joining or leaving the cult?
4. How has being a part of a cult impacted on your life?
It would be much appreciated if you could respond to me, preferably via this blog!!!


Please feel free to post your answers in the comments section.


A History of God: Refuting Jack’s Delusions

It is very difficult to refute the evidence in this video. If you are still in the group I hope you will watch this video.

I found that learning about the historical record was personally very cathartic.

But Seriously

But Seriously is a blog written by a former member of the Abensur Family/Shoresh Yishai cult.  In her blog she addresses the humiliation and shame that so many of us felt while being members of this cult.  Her story is personal, provocative, and compelling.  If you are a fan of this site, you will not be disappointed with But Seriously.

How Can You Be Perfect If The Rules Are Always Changing?

I remember attending a meeting that Jack Hickman lectured at where he told us that he brought us into the world to be perfect.  According to Jack, he astrally traveled to this holding pen of souls (Guf) and handpicked our souls because he took over god’s job in our case.  We were told that our souls are special Adomic souls that only get one chance at life and this chance is during the end of days.  Jack said that everyone else reincarnates except the children of the cult members.

If we did not become perfect, we would go to hell (he taught a form of Annihilationism) and Jack literally said that his spirit would dance on our graves if we did not become perfect.

My question to the youth still involved in the cult is this:  How can you be perfect if the rules are always changing?

Jack Hickman and G. the Catspaw took the group through “phases.”  These “phases” were supposed to be necessary because cult followers could not handle the real truth.  Apparently they have never been ready for the truth since the truth always seems to be different from month to month or year to year.

Here are some examples of the “phases”:

1)    Lutheranism Phase.  Lutheranism is a true form of Christianity.  The group is not yet a cult, but the youth minister, Pastor Jack , severely manipulates young people.

2)    Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity Phase.  Followers are suppose to have righteous experiences that include the need to evangelize and convert others, to be possessed by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues (glossolalia), and to perform exorcisms that are needed often.

3)    Orthodox Jew Phase.  Follow hundreds of rigid rules, but remember to love Jesus.

4)    Orthodox Secret Bloodline Jews.  Cult members must sign a special contract with extra rules that supersede the torah so they can join Jack’s special secret bloodline and he can become their adopted Daddy.

5)    No Longer Orthodox Jewish Phase.  Jack tells his cult followers that the Rabbis are ignorant, that they do not love people the right way, and that only he knows what the true rules are.

6)    The Way Phase. Cult members are supposed to follow “the Way.”  The Way is a nebulous path that is never clearly explained, except by strange anecdotal stories of Jack’s life that make no sense.  The Way includes becoming Hickman Vegetarians.  Hickman Vegetarianism is a diet where you tell people you are vegetarian, but you eat fish because fish have no souls and are pure because they live in water.  Strangely, Hickman Vegetarianism mirrors the diet prescribed by Jack’s doctor for his diseased heart.

7)    Evil Aliens In The Earth Phase.  Jack said that there are evil aliens trapped inside the earth that must be fed by cult member’s prayers, because Abensur Family members are the only ones that have special souls and that means they have especially tasty prayers.  If you don’t pray enough, god will let the evil aliens (angels are aliens according to cult doctrine in this phase) kill you and the evil aliens will feed off the fumes of your burning corpse.  I am not even joking.

8)    The Book Of The Month Phase.  Jack would read a book that would inspire him and other cult members would be taught the parts from the book that Jack liked best.  The explanations and book passages would often times be vague and contradict other books and cult teachings.

9)    Ripped Off Version Of Transcendental Meditation Phase.  By chanting the name of Jesus in Hebrew, you would become better spiritually.  Certain members were allowed special teachings for completing different tasks.

10) G. And The V. Family Are Prophets Phase.  25% of the money taken from cult members goes to G. and 75% goes to certain members of the V. family.  In exchange for your money, G. and certain V. family members work themselves up through hyperventilation and hysteria (this can cause hallucinations and other altered states) and they give “prophecies” that are vague and meaningless.  God also forgets to tell you everything the first time in a prophecy prayer meaning, even though god says after a prophecy that “it is finished” (the message that is), so stick around until the end of the meeting because you never know what god may have forgotten the first time he spoke during the meeting.

It is hard to believe, yet these are not the only phases!  There are sadly more.

I may explain some of these phases in more detail in another article, including all the books Jack Hickman used to come up with his different phases.  What I have written above is a extremely truncated version.

Our parents like to reminisce and laugh about the Abensur Family cult’s journey.

What legitimate spiritual leader or group constantly changes what they tell you is the truth?  I cannot think of one.  Only other cults do this.

There are only a few real rules that you must abide by in the Abensur Family cult to be considered righteous and these are stressed regularly by the cult leaders, usually subtly.

  • Do whatever the cult leaders tell you.  Even if you do not understand what is being “taught,” pretend to.
  • Do not challenge or seriously question what the cult leaders tell you.
  • Give at least 10% of your yearly income to the cult leaders.
  • Do not criticize anything the cult leaders do or say privately or publicly.  If you do, god will punish you because you are committing lashon hara (one of the few things from Orthodox Judaism that Jack decided to keep) and this is worse than being a murderer.

I spent years feeling guilty for not being “perfect,” until I realized I was twisted and confused by all the opaque teachings that I couldn’t even figure out what “perfect” meant.  G. has tried to throw many of the vague and contradictory teachings together into a patchwork belief system, but the only things that are ever consistent in the cult are the real rules that allow them to maintain control.

The Lost Years

I will leave out most of my personal speculations and keep to the facts that I was able to unearth about what happened to Jack and G. during the period of 1983-1996, the time period that I call the Lost Years.

As most of the readers of this page know, Jack and G. fled Long Island in the early 1980’s.  I have evidence that suggests that it wasn’t just the Foibles article (published in 1983) that caused Jack to flee Long Island. At the time, several investigations were being conducted by law enforcement.  For example, in 1982 the FBI opened up a file on Jack Hickman (they also opened a new file for an investigation in 2002).  Due to the many investigations going on, Jack fled the East and took his catspaw G. with him.

Jack and G., like many others with shady pasts, fled into the American West.  They spent much of the next decade living in and out of cheap motels that could be rented by the week.  By staying in places frequented by other unscrupulous types without permanent addresses, Jack and G. were able to remain hidden.  They could also leave these places at a moments notice.

They spent many of these years in Colorado and eventually moved to California.  As some of you have already guessed, Jack’s escape from New York was not paid for though hard work.  The Lost Years were funded almost completely through Shoresh Yishai and through cult members paying directly for Jack’s rent.  Jack did not work for the rest of his life; he lived off his follower’s money instead.

G. worked during some of the Lost Years and this did allow for Jack to do nothing constructive.  This gave him ample time to spend focusing on G.’s personal brainwashing.  Jack probably called it special teaching.

During that time of trouble, G. did not date women.  He told many members of the cult that he was celibate, just like Jack Hickman had always been!  I do not have details about Jack and G.’s sleeping arrangement when they lived together during the Lost Years.  I just know that a young, good-looking G. lived with Jack who had a sexual history of having sexual affairs with teenage boys and young men.

In the midst of this period, Jack’s slovenly lifestyle and poor eating habits caused him to have a heart attack.  While in the hospital, Jack had several life saving medical procedures performed.  One of those was the insertion of a pacemaker.

Jack Hickman was physically feeble for the rest of his life and had difficulty walking.  He also had very poor circulation after his heart attack.  I believe that his heart condition and poor circulation left him impotent.  Jack’s impotence will become more important in the years after the regrouping of the cult in 1996.

In the 1990’s, Jack and G. began to live in more permanent and expensive residences in Southern California. Like previous properties, his followers paid for Jack’s homes.  I never saw the California homes.  I was told by several sources that did see them that they were situated on prime real estate and were large.  The homes were rented and never became part of the cult’s assets.

It was in California that Jack began to revive the cult.  He had G. call the Clan Heads (Jack’s handpicked men who were in-charge of different families in the cult) and he told their followers that Jack was going to begin teaching their children.  In May of 1996, his loyal followers sent their teenage children to a meeting where Jack would once again begin brainwashing young minds.

A Brief History Up To 1983: Part Three

As I mentioned, things began to get even more twisted and bizarre.  Jack began practicing a strange new sexual ritual with young men in the cult he called “the passing of the seed.”

The new sexual ritual consisted of Jack and another young man in a dark room together that was lit by candlelight.  The young man would touch Jack’s thigh and Jack would masturbate until he ejaculated onto whichever handsome young man was with him at the time.  They would then collect the semen onto special paper and then burn it like incense.

While the passing of seed masturbatory sessions were going on, a culture of violence began to take hold among the cult.  Many men were beaten within the group for a variety of reasons.  Some say that Jack ordered the beatings, others that he just condoned it.  Either way he never spoke out against them publicly.  In fact, some former members claim to have witnessed his presence at least once at one of the more unusual displays of violence.

Several men were beaten for threatening or insulting Jack.  Others ironically were beaten for perceived inappropriate sexual relationships with women.  Two of the young men given the title of prince by Jack received severe beatings.  It is well known by many of the older cult members that these two men, K. U. and P. R., were beaten for having premarital sex with young women.

P. R. had sex with his fiancé, who Jack disapproved of even before finding out about the sex.  As punishment for be caught having premarital sex, P. R. was shaved from head to toe and beaten by a group with sticks.  Many in the group were into something called a nazirite vow. I believe that this beating was just another perversion of Judaism that was used as an excuse.

Finally in the early 1980’s almost everything came out.  Some of Jack’s sexual relationships with teenage boys were exposed, along with the violence, and the passing of the seed ritual that many of the inner circle had participated in.  Jack justified his taking advantage of teenage boys by claiming that the biblical David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship that transcended normal love.  His relationship with L. and others was like that according to Jack; it was just too spiritual for outsiders to understand.  His apologist followers parroted this message over and over.  When confronted they still say this to this very day.

Jack’s ejaculation on young men was explained through a twisted version of a story about the biblical Isaac and Jacob.  According to Jack, Isaac shot his semen onto Jacob as a blessing.

It doesn’t actually say any of these things in the Bible.  Jack just claimed that he was given this special understanding from angels or his dead brother who was sent to him by God to explain the real meaning of the Bible.  All the angels or dead brothers couldn’t teach Jack to speak Hebrew though, something he claimed to also have a deep knowledge of.

At one of the final cult services, those who were hurt tried to confront Jack about what he had done.  Rather than show remorse for the pain he had caused others, Jack blew up in anger and threatened members of the group.  He told them that their souls were in danger and that if they rejected him, that they rejected the house of David, were now his enemies, that they were the enemies of God, and were condemned for being on the side of evil.

Many left the cult and still have not completely recovered from the mind rape that they experienced.  Others have never recovered from the sexual abuse.

The press began to investigate Hickman and they interviewed many of those who were involved in the cult.  This resulted in the Foibles of Abba expose.  While many of the children of the group were told not to read it and that it was full of lies, for those with the courage to look at it they were able to find out some of the truth that our parents chose to hide from us.

Once the article was published, Jack realized that he had to flee New York.  Before he left though, he told the last of his faithful followers that it was L. who was guilty of all the transgressions that were blamed on Jack.  L. became Jack’s scapegoat and he was tossed aside.

Jack fled Long Island and went west with a younger man than L., G. his new protégé.  G. was now Jack’s right hand and new personal disciple who eventually became his heir.

A Brief History Up To 1983: Part Two

Jack had several young men living with him in his house in East Islip, the two most prominent being L. and G.  Both G. and L. were handsome young men that Jack had been manipulating since they were teenagers.  When they were over 18, they moved in with him.  When everything was falling apart in the 1980’s, Jack blamed L. for the ultimate downfall of the cult, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The cult began to take on a weird and not very Jewish structure.  During the period where people were being adopted into Jack’s secret “family” (the one where he insisted everyone call him Abba, which is Father or Daddy in Hebrew), he created all sorts of medieval sounding positions and titles for his favorite followers.  Titles like prince, elder, and clan head.  For a group that claimed to be attempting to recreate the practices of the first century followers of Jesus (or Yeshua as they referred to him as), the whole thing had a very medieval feel to it.  This made sense since Jack was a huge Lord of the Rings fan.

As the cult became more intrusive into the lives of its members, Jack began to exercise his power over them more and more.  Jack enjoyed playing matchmaker by telling people who they should marry and who they shouldn’t marry.  If you are a child of the cult, Hickman himself may have arranged your parent’s marriage.

All marriages at one point needed to be approved by Jack and the “Elders,” who were appointed by Jack and ultimately did whatever he told them to do.  Some young couples were told by Jack that they could not marry.  Some of those young people broke up because he told them to, but a few brave ones left the group and got married anyway without Daddy’s permission.

Jack not only told people who they could love, but how they were allowed to consummate their love in their own homes.  He became so consumed with his own power over their lives, that he told his married followers how they could have sex and when!

These young cult members who had spent their teenage years and early twenties with Jack eventually had children.  The cult created a special school for them called Bet El Yeshua where they could learn the teachings of Hickman.  Some of the children were also given special titles, but most of those so-called special children meant to usher in the era of the messiah left the cult.  This includes Jo. H.’s children and some of D. S.’s, the co-founders of Jack’s cult and his first two followers.  Unfortunately, there are a significant number from Bet El who remained after the regrouping in 1996.

The students at Bet El were taught to revere Jack or their “Abba” (Father or Daddy).  They were told to stand up when he came into the room like he was some sort of South American dictator.  The school eventually shutdown, but not before scarring dozens of small children with doctrines about fish people, evil angels, and unscientific bloodlines.

Jack continued to feed into the groups fear of the apocalypse and molded the group into a survivalist doomsday cult that was taught to fear outsiders.  According to Hickman, since the cult members were now his adopted children, they would be hunted by the demon possessed minions of Satan (this gets much stranger in the cult doctrines after Jack comes out of exile) who were going to be agents of the government during the tribulation period (end times).  They needed to survive the coming cataclysm that would destroy 70% of the world’s population and usher in the second coming of Jesus (Yeshua) so that they could rule the earth as the most righteous people left in the world with Jesus (Yeshua).

Cult members were encouraged to buy property in Maine.  Jack claimed that the area around Moosehead Lake would be safe from Satan and the evil angels since through the use of his strong will and magic power, he wrestled the angel who controlled the area and won the contest.  According to Jack, the antichrist’s people (the government) would search for them and try to kill them, but because of him they would be safe there (as long as they “tithed” at least).

Jack’s supposed angel wrestling match occurred during one of his many Maine camping trips.  He loved to camp alone with various teenaged boys.  On one of those camping trips Jack seduced a sixteen-year-old D. W.  This was described in the article The Foibles of Abba in detail with quotes from D. W. himself.

It was quite common for parents to send their young boys to camp along with Hickman.  Jack told D. W. and his parents that he was special spiritually and that he needed special teachings privately.  This was a regular excuse that Jack used to justify these camping trips where he would sexually abuse teenage boys.

There were many different teenage boys that were taken to Maine with Jack and the self-proclaimed end time’s prophet gave them all special titles.

As the cult began to garner more and more attention, Jack’s paranoia grew.  He insisted on having bodyguards because people had made threats against him.  I actually have pictures of his security guards with their walkie-talkies standing a few feet away from him as he preached to his followers.

Jack was a devisive cult leader.  He broke up families and pulled young men and women away from their parents.  He also required his followers to give up 10% or more of their yearly earnings to him, which he called “tithe.”  According to him, by giving Jack their money they were being spiritual.  God wanted you to give Jack your money.

With roughly 900 hundred cult members at one point giving Jack 10% or more of their incomes, he was able to purchase a nice home in East Islip, NY that he filled with expensive antiques, bought with his followers’ money.  Jack also loved to have feasts at his home that young men in his inner circle regularly attended.

At the height of Jack’s power, things became stranger still . . .

A Brief History Up To 1983: Part One

This history was compiled through interviews and research from news articles since I was not around in the 1970’s.   In the 1960’s, Jack Hickman went to seminary in Minnesota where he met Jo. H. and D. S.  Jack was a smart, charismatic man and likely for those reasons Jo. and D. were convinced to follow him to Long Island.  Jack and Jo. were placed as pastors at St. John’s Lutheran Church and D. was placed at Christ Church of East Meadow that eventually merged with St. John’s after the fallout with the Lutherans.

In Long Island, Jack was the youth minister.  Jo. was considered to be a more traditional pastor and he catered to the older crowd that was not up for Jack’s bizarre and flamboyant sermons.

Jack had one service on Sundays for the crowd that was younger and in many cases on drugs (not necessarily at the services).  This was the 1970’s after all.  Our parents did copious amounts of drugs.  Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, cocaine, heroine, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, tobacco.  Not all of the kids in that period were using, but many of them did.  Jack spent almost all of his time with these teenagers.  “The youth.”  Sometimes he would help some of them skip school so they could hang out together.  He never helped the girls skip school though.  Pastor Jack, or PJ as the teenagers called him, only helped teenage boys skip school so they could be together.

Jack’s brand of ranting sermons began to draw very large crowds for a church in the 70’s.  According to some, Jack’s service drew crowds that not only filled up all of the seats.  Many people that showed up couldn’t find seats and they stood through the whole service.  There are claims from some of the current cult members that the crowds were upwards of one thousand people.  I think this is a gross exaggeration.  I don’t believe that St. John’s had the capacity to hold that many people.

He preached a form of Charismatic Christianity for a while.  Holy rolling, speaking in tongues, casting out demons.  St. John’s was like a Pentecostal church, where Jack claimed to have divine powers.  This sort of thing brought in loads of money and created a cult following around Jack.

Around this time Jack met a teenage boy who we will refer to as L.  He was a handsome, Hispanic boy (I’m sure most of you know where this is going).  L. quickly became Jack’s protégé.  Jack declared that he and L. were prophet’s of God and that the world was going to be facing end times soon.

He said demons would be possessing church goers since we were entering the tribulation period where God would punish humanity.  According to Jack, the brunt of Satan’s wrath would be directed at his followers and a plague of demons would attack them to test Jack’s followers, to see who was righteous and who was wicked.  Due to the power of suggestion (our parents were Charismatic Christians after all and Charismatic Christianity is based on the power of suggestion and hypnotic trance according to studies by psychologists), people were not just speaking in tongues anymore, they believed that evil spirits were talking through them too.

Jack and L. began conducting exorcisms en masse.  This brought in even more money.  Think about it, if you believed you were being attacked by evil spirits and only these two men stood between you and the devil, you would likely start giving up 10% of your income (Jack called it tithe) to the prophet too.

Around this time, Hickman began to move his followers away from holy rollers into Orthodox Jews.  He attempted to merge the groups New Testament Pentecostal beliefs with literal interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Concerned people began comparing his cult to Jews for Jesus since Jack began to have his group actively go after converting Jews to his twisted faith.

The Jews that he was able to ensnare were mostly teenagers.  His best proselytizers were teenage boys who became his inner circle and were entrusted with secret teachings.

The Lutheran church had been receiving alarming reports for a while and they stepped in.  Jack, Jo., and D. were defrocked and the Lutherans stated that the group had devolved into a dangerous cult that used severe manipulation to control its members.

Soon after, Jack began broadening his inner circle, where sexual abuse and violence became widespread.

News Article: The Foibles of Abba

For years I refused to read this article.  I was told throughout my childhood that the article was full of lies and that the journalist Joseph Berger was just an opportunist.  It turns out that what was published was indeed true.  If it was truly full of lies, why wouldn’t they have sued the newspaper?

I confronted my parents and many others within the cult about the events described in the article and they confirmed that these things happened:

  • Jack Hickman, the self-proclaimed Abba, had full-blown sexual relationships with two young men who he seduced when they were teenagers.  They are named and at least one was quoted in the article.
  • Jack Hickman had many young men from the cult participate in ritualized, mutual masturbation sessions that were referred to as “the passing of the seed.”
  • Jack Hickman ordered ritualistic beatings of at least several men.
  • Jack Hickman lived an extravagant lifestyle by using cult members “tithe” money (each member was and still is required to give the cult 10% of their earnings).
  • Jack Hickman claimed to be a secret Jew, yet his own family denied that they were Jewish in any way.  Jack’s family told many people that Jack was not mentally well.
  • Aryeh Kaplan, one of the most respected Jewish scholars and translator of many texts on the Kabbalah, stated flatly that Jack knew nothing about Jewish law or the Kabbalah.
Here is the link to the article: The Foibles of Abba