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

News Article: Charismatics Alive and Well on Long Island

This article was originally published in 1975 in the New York Times.  In the article, Jack Hickman claims that they are not charismatics, yet the New York Times interviews him because they are doing the same practices as other Pentecostal Christians.  The only difference is that Jack is adding special cult touches to St. John’s Pentecostal Lutheran Church.

At the time, Jack and L. started performing tons of exorcisms and the members were doing the speaking in tongues performance regularly.

I am posting this article to help document the history of this doomsday cult.  I will later write a few articles that describe their past history and where they are presently.

Charismatics Alive and Well on LI

News Article: The Jews for Jesus (and the others too) are out to get your kids

This is an article that was published in 1977 before some of the larger scandals broke.  I would like to point out that even at that point, Lutheran clergymen in the article mention that Jack Hickman used “severe manipulation . . . sometimes leading to pyschological disorder” among those who laid their trust in him.

Jack Hickman always controlled the cult through his favorite tool, fear.  The easiest way to manipulate your followers is to make them afraid and tell them that they only way they will be safe is to do what you tell them to do.  To this day the cult members are controlled through the use of fear.  In upcoming posts I will discuss this in more detail.

The majority of the section that deals with Jack and the cult in this article is on the last page.  However, they do discuss the cult on several other pages throughout the article.  Here is the link: The Jews for Jesus (and the others too) are out to get your kids


I have belonged to a modern doomsday cult for all of my life.  In the 1980’s, the cult was known as Shoresh Yishai, but the name has changed over the years.  Currently they refer to themselves as the Abensur Family or simply as the Family.  As you probably know, the Family is not the most original name.  The charismatic founder of the cult, Jack Hickman, also known as Abba to his followers, was not the most original cult leader.  Most of the ideas and dogmas that are alive in the cult today he stole from others.  This is rather fitting with his character as he did after all live a parasitic lifestyle.

The cult today is still underground and we as children of the original members were taught from an early age to keep our beliefs a secret.  Most of us were fed a steady diet of fear from our parents and our esteemed cult leader to not speak of our involvement to outsiders or face the unspoken consequences.

That kid in your class with the straight A’s, he might be a cult member.  The oil broker who is rich and helped found the company, he is secretly a member.  Those guys who run the company that handles government contracts to help move people around the world, they aren’t just members, they are the shot callers running the cult since Jack died.

The Family is still around today and has hundreds of secret members.  The current leaders are in the process of consolidating power and I fear that they are headed towards another Jonestown style tragedy.

This site, Modern Doomsday Cult, is my attempt to deal with the damage this caused to me personally and it is also meant to help others from the group to free their minds from this destructive belief system.  I will also be breaking down many of the lies that we were told were true for over thirty years, not to mention the current issues within the group today.