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How were his books received? For the release day of the new one, my appendix exploded. People called it spiritual warfare. He even presents his family life in magical terms. As Mr. The congregation more than tripled over the years and outgrew its humble perch in Bergen County. In , Beth Israel moved to a cavernous old department store a half-hour away and remodeled the building to resemble the white-stoned city of ancient Jerusalem, recasting the drab industrial structure as a mystical suburban barracks.

In the parking lot, massive Israeli and American flags billow in the breeze. Beth Israel draws from the Charismatic movement, which has roots in Pentecostalism, and also incorporates elements of Messianic Judaism. Congregants alternate between calling Mr. Cahn their pastor or rabbi, and their place of worship a church or synagogue. Services are also held on Friday evenings, at the start of the Jewish Sabbath, and Mr. Cahn arrives to the building just moments before worship begins.

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By the time he bursts on stage with a headset microphone, the crowd is fully primed. A dance troupe of women, dressed in red and waving scarfs, prance nearby as the crowd sways in song. During a recent evening service, some congregants gathered as helpers lit traditional Shabbat candles near the foot of the stage.

Cahn dropped Hebrew into his sermon, and at times, the crowd haltingly joined in to pronounce the foreign words themselves. In a middle row, one elderly woman pulled out a worn Bible with stickered pages, the margins filled with notes from previous lectures. Cahn intoned from the pulpit.

Open your mind, brace yourself. Progressive groups, like the website Right Wing Watch, have been tracking Mr. Others have raised questions about whether his messages about Trump veer from protected religious expression to political endorsement. Churches are unable to participate in political campaigns on behalf of, or in opposition to, candidates; if they do so, they risk losing their tax-exempt status. Cahn shrugs at the charge. Others object to his claims to divine insight. In particular, Mr. Cahn has attracted the attention of a network of Christian critics who see him as part of a growing stream of over-the-top supernaturalism in the church.


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Tensions came to a climax in , when Mr. Cahn suggested in a book and during several TV appearances that an imminent cataclysm was on the horizon.

The making of a messiah

Leaning on arcane readings of the early books of the Bible, Mr. In came terrorist attacks, in there was an economic crash.

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Cahn asked: could bring another disaster? But months passed, and the doomsday date came and went. He was dismissed as a grifter.

One critic likened Mr. Cahn in several posts. Hall said recently. Cahn actually grows embarrassed discussing the doomsday fiasco. He insists he has always included disclaimers on his work and never set exact dates. Rather, Mr. Cahn wanted to warn that a cataclysm could happen, not that it would. Still, he appears to have learned from the brouhaha, growing even more cautious about making prognostications that could fall through.

His latest book, for example, was released only after Trump had taken the White House and is largely backward-looking, giving biblical explanations to current events only after the fact. Cahn demurred. Meanwhile, Mr. Though not estranged, his Jewish family never fully knew what to make of his dramatic pastoral turn. They rarely, if ever, visit the church, and he remains troubled by the idea they will not be spiritually saved. At times, Mr. Cahn appears to be a star in a show that has grown out of his control. Fans may take his project more seriously than he does himself.

His debut book was originally billed as a work of fiction, for example, a nuance lost on most readers. Instead, he stopped correcting them.

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It was just easier. Still, his book series marches on. Like the others, it concerns biblical prophecies, with Trump again making an appearance. On a Friday evening this winter, deep into the government shutdown over the border wall, Beth Israel was packed, even though a snowstorm had been forecast. One man plucked a plaintive tune on a guitar as Mr. Cahn wound up the service, inviting the crowd to bow their heads. He guided the them in a soothing prayer. There were murmurs through the room.

Cahn concluded and then gently reminded the crowd about the booths in the back. Congregants could buy shawls, jewelry and apocalypse-themed calendars. Books were for sale, he said. New members could even get a gift copy, signed free of charge. After worship, congregants gathered near the canteen, where steam rose from platters of rice, beans and soup. Several worshipers described how they once attended other, more mainline churches before discovering Beth Israel.

Some still have a home church elsewhere but come here for a supplemental dose of mysticism. Bob Keene, a year-old school-bus driver, described the appeal. Roxanne Mangal, a middle-aged woman in a flowery blouse, joined the table.

She said the pastor had healed her of a terrible illness. Joining Beth Israel also brought wealth.