This issue reports on the struggles of Messianic Jews in Israel.
SINCE YOU ASKED
Jewish believers in Yeshua (Jesus), also known as messianic Jews, comprise less than a quarter of one percent of the population in Israel. Yet, more and more, they are coming under attack. In nearly every case, the attackers are Orthodox Jews who see the messianics as traitors, defectors, and their enemy. Take for example, the confrontation this past March in the city of Arad. Polly Sigulim, a widow and mother of three IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers, found herself as the latest target of a campaign to drive all the messianic Jews out of Arad. At the heart of the campaign were the National Religious and the Gur Hasidim. Both groups daily stormed Polly’s home, hurling verbal abuse and threats.
Against the Haredim stood Polly’s neighbor, unable to remain indifferent to the daily harassment of his neighbor. In his words, “While the children of this woman are in the army and are guarding our borders, officers in the elite corps, the Haredim, who don’t serve in the army, every day harass their mother and abuse her.” In response to the 200 Haredim, around 100 Arad residents joined the neighbor in protest, protecting the right of the messianic congregation to exist and remain. Today the congregation is still being harassed due to the legal action that they lost. They have been forced from their own building and are now meeting in a forest. They press on however, and some of the secular Jews have sided with them. That helps, but it’s a daily struggle and they hope it won’t get worse than it is.
In December of 2009, two Haredi men were arrested for setting fire to the car of a messianic Jew in Beit Shean. The Jerusalem Post carried the story online and received some interesting comments in the Talk Back section. Most justified the perpetrators and blamed the victim.
During the Feast of Purim in March of 2008, a bomb disguised as a Purim gift basket was left at the front door of the home of David and Leah Oritz in Ariel. When their teenage son, Ami, unwrapped the basket, a bomb exploded in his face.
In December of 2005 a messianic congregation in Beersheba was overrun by more than 400 Haredim who had heard rumors of a planned mass baptism of messianic believers. (The actual number was two.) They barged in and disrupted the proceedings for three hours. Several congregation members were physically accosted, and the congregational leader, Howard Bass was pushed into the baptismal pool. Nearly 70 police were required to restore order. For more information and updates visit Amiortiz and Israelprayer.
AS I SEE IT
Many of the comments of those who were brought to trial showed that they honestly believed they were offering an “acceptable service to God.” In this respect, things haven’t changed much since Jesus’ time. Despite all the horrible things done to the Jewish people throughout history, the Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox in Israel seem to have no trouble switching sides. It shows the “fruit” that emerges when you devoutly pursue a righteousness of your own.
Out focus, however, should be on the victims. Messianic Jews have a special place in God’s heart. Jesus went first to the house of Israel. Any time a Jewish person comes to faith in Yeshua (Jesus), it is a cause for great rejoicing. Messianic congregations, especially in Israel, need our support and prayers. It’s a shame that so few Christians care about our messianic brothers and sisters. We have a long way to go before attaining the Jewish/Gentile unity known as the “One New Man” of Ephesians 2:15. To learn more about God’s plan for unifying Jewish and Gentile believers, click here. To read another article on the plight of Messianics in Israel, click here.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Lettin’ the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back. –Will Rogers