Editor’s note: This story includes mentions of sexual assault.
CHICAGO — Logan Square resident Alexandra Kueller was taken aback when she got a purple envelope in the mail with a book she’d never heard of, let alone bought.
The book, “Changed,” is a self-published book from author Tom Cantor outlining his path from growing up Jewish to believing in Jesus Christ.
Kueller leafed through it and said she was “just really confused” why it was sent to her. She is not Jewish, for one thing. She and her boyfriend wondered: What is Cantor selling? Is he trying to get people to join a new religion? Donate money?
“We had no idea,” Kueller said.
Many Chicagoans have been left similarly puzzled after they and numerous neighbors were mailed Cantor’s book unsolicited. The author has printed and mailed numerous copies to people in several other cities in the past few years, including New York, Detroit, St. Louis and Portland, Oregon, according to a New York Post story from March.
It wasn’t clear how many Chicagoans received copies. Cantor did not respond to requests for comment.
Cantor, 72, previously told the New York Post he considers himself a Jew who happens to believe Jesus Christ is the son of God. He told The Post he wrote the book when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.
“I want them to find what I found,” he told The Post. “I found the cure for spiritual cancer.”
Cantor is the founder of Scantibodies Laboratory, a Santee, California, biotech company, as well as founder and president of Israel Restoration Ministries, a religious nonprofit that encourages the belief of Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah.
“When Tom was 19, he had a life-changing experience by discovering the great happiness and joy the Bible can bring,” Cantor’s bio on his company’s website reads. “Because of that experience, he offers hope and security by reaching out to Jewish people.”
Cantor told The Post he didn’t care if recipients throw out the book.
“There’s going to be some that are going to embrace it, and they’re going to say, ‘I love this book, it speaks to my heart,’” he told The Post. “I’m out for those people.”
Kueller was among the people who got rid of it. She sent photos of passages from the book to her friends, who were appalled by the author’s description of his wife being sexually assaulted and how that influenced his beliefs. She said Cantor’s beliefs are “extremist.”
“This is just crazy, to put it into print and send it out,” Kueller said.
Breanna Magnuson, who lives near Logan Square, received two copies of Cantor’s book addressed to her and to a previous tenant, she said.
Magnuson, too, was appalled, saying Cantor seemed to portray himself as the main victim after his wife was attacked.
“Any hope I had of healing and recovery from her was shattered when she was violated and lost her innocence,” Cantor wrote. “All the help I had hoped to get from my relationship with her was now dead.”
“What a way to blame your problems on someone else’s tragedy and treat women as objects solely used to save you from your past sins,” Magnuson said.
Uptown resident Marcus Reidy also received a copy in the mail.
“I thought it was strange,” Reidy said.
Reidy said he is naturally curious about “strange stuff in the mail” or “pamphlets on the bus,” so he looked through the book. The longer he read the book, it “got weirder,” especially the part about Cantor’s wife being attacked, he said.
“Which I thought was very odd and kind of gross,” Reidy said.
Reidy still doesn’t know the purpose of the book or what the moral of the story was, he said.
“I kind of put it down after he kept centering himself in the middle of the assault,” Reidy said.
Magnuson has no idea why she was on the mailing list, she said.
“I’m not a religious person. I don’t practice, and I don’t go to church, synagogue, mosque, et cetera,” Magnuson wrote in an email to Block Club. “I have no connection to the medical field. I haven’t been to any AA meetings or addiction counseling.”
A few other people Magnuson knows received the book, but not everyone in her building necessarily got one, she said. It’s not clear who the intended audience was, she said.
“I have a friend who lives a couple of blocks away who did not receive this in the mail,” Magnuson said. “The fact that I had two in my mailbox raises more questions, since the tenant before me also received one.”
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