Haaretz article on persecution of Messianics

In most cases the people hurt are Israelis, country citizens for all matters: they perform military service; educate their children on their country’s values and Zionism and send them to regular schools; celebrate the nation's holidays and observe its commemorative dates, work for a living, usually in free professions, and pay taxes. They love the country,
swear to their loyalty and devotion, become emotional with the raising of the flag and the singing of the anthem, and still feel like a persecuted minority.

About 20 communities of Messianic Jews are active around the country, and the number of their members is estimated at several thousands. They believe in G_d and consider themselves as Jews, refer to the Bible and the New Testament as their holy scriptures, are convinced that Jesus is the messiah and don't understand how it's any of the country authorities' business.

Haaretz, a prominent Israeli newspaper, recently posted an article about the plight of Messianic Jews in Israel, and their persecution by anti-missionary Shamer groups like Yad L’Achim.

The Jerusalem Institute for Justice has posted an English translation of the article (PDF).

Here’s a snippet from the article:

Barbara Ludwig, a 33 year old Jewish student at a Hebrew university, was on the verge of being deported from the country, after her student visa was refused. In the hearing conducted about a year ago in the Court for Illegal Aliens, before her deportation, she was asked about her lifestyle and beliefs:

The court: I want to know once and for all – what is the religion of truth, Judaism or Christianity?

Ludwig: in my opinion the truth is G_d, and not Judaism or Christianity.

The court: is Christianity idolatry?

Ludwig: there are elements of idolatry in Christianity.

The court: and who are you in this story – a Jew, a Christian, or something in between?

Ludwig: in my eyes I am a Jew. I live as a Jew and handle the responsibility involved in it.

The court: what is the weekly Torah portion?

Ludwig: since we're past Passover, it's either "Ahrey Mot" or "Kedoshim". But what does that have to do with my student visa?

Hat tip to Rosh Pina.


  1. You have to see Yad L'Achim's spin on this story - accusing Haaretz of persecuting them!


  2. HaAretz has a reputation for not being that awful concerned about having a Jewish state.

    Disregarding the Messianic issue, do YOU believe that Israel should take steps to preserve its Jewish status?

  3. If it involves education and encouraging Diaspora Jews to make aliyah, then sure.

    If it involves spying and passing information on about law-abiding citizens, and government outsourcing bigoted extremists, then no I don't.

  4. Yeze-

    "Ludwig: there are elements of idolatry in Christianity."

    Do you think such elements should be tolerated by the Jewish state?

    I'm still waiting for Judah's answer, but say you were on a renewed Sanhedrin, how would you rule on a "Lubavitcher" who believed that the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt'l was the "Creator"?

  5. Yeze, thanks for posting that. Their response is comical.

    Haaretz followed in the footsteps of its competitor and slammed Yad L'Achim for 'persecuting innocent and law-obeying citizens'.

    I love how they use quotation marks, as if their persecution is a contested thing. They don't even deny persecuting Messianics. They even give an example of how they caused the city of Ashdod to boycott a bakery run by a Messianic.

    I'm tempted to invoke Godwin's Law.

  6. Judah, you do not think that a boycott is a legitimate way to express disagreement with the views of a store owner?

  7. It is no more legitimate than boycotting a store owner because he's black.

  8. So you would continue to shop at the store of someone who promotes white supremacy?

  9. Judah - amen to that.

    Yirmiahu/Yirmeyahu - that's the point though, Israel is a democracy, not a theocracy!

  10. "Yirmeyahu - that's the point though, Israel is a democracy, not a theocracy!"

    Do you believe that pork and "adult" material should be legal?

    Do you believe that shops should be open for business on Shabbat?

  11. Speaking of "law-abiding citizens", it's worth mentioning that Yad L'achim is on trial for vigilante violence against Messianics in Israel. Right now. Israeli courts.

    Anti-missionaries who don't speak out against such evil should be ashamed of themselves as Jews.

  12. Hold on Yirmiahu/Yirmeyahu, do you believe Messianic Jewish businesses should be boycotted, and why?

  13. "Anti-missionaries who don't speak out against such evil should be ashamed of themselves as Jews."

    It is your prerogative, since its your blog, but you are changing the subject. This is just a diversion.

    That being said, I do, and have, condemned the use of violence as a means of furthering Torah in a secular society and object to those who take the mantle of "zealot" when they are really just troublemakers.

    I also think that in a "secular" society, the fact that one has been charged with a crime isn't proof one has committed a crime.

  14. "Hold on Yirmiahu/Yirmeyahu, do you believe Messianic Jewish businesses should be boycotted, and why?"

    Answer me whether you think that the punishment the Torah prescribes for idolatry is applicable to someone who believes an eastern European born Rebbe (great though he may have been) is the Creator. :)

    (Sorry to play hardball)

  15. >> What would you do with...

    I tell you what I'd do. I'd spy on them. Then I'd harass them in the streets. I'd boycott their business. I'd talk to their boss and get them fired. I'd shout obscenities at them. I'd firebomb their homes. I'd revoke their citizenship. I'd kick them out of the country. And I'd claim all this good behavior God-approved.

    Oh wait. No, I wouldn't; that sounds like something the Nazis would do, not something fit for God-fearing people to carry out.

    Yirmeyahu, you're on the wrong side of this argument. I suspect, deep down, you know this. I hope -- and pray! -- you can change before you get too far down that road.

  16. Judah,

    On the contrary, your evasion of giving an honest answer on how you think the Torah applies to those who worship a human being who we both agree is not G-d suggest that you know that your defense isn't consistent with Torah.

    My question is just a rework of the same one you asked Christians! But now you would like to shield yourself with non-Torah "rights" of western democracy.

    I have not asked you to concede that you are wrong, but intellectual honesty demands that you concede that the erroneous worship of human being is tantamount to idolatry.

  17. Yirmeyahu,

    So let me get this straight. You are suggesting that Messianics, because they believe Jesus is the Messiah, should be stoned by Orthodox Jews. Is that what you are suggesting?

  18. I have to go to work now, but you still are not answering the question with a straight answer.

    What do you think is the Torah punishment for idolatry, and does worshiping a mere mortal (someone that you would agree is merely human) idolatry?

    Not hard to answer. I apologize for not backing down on this, but you are avoiding the question while continuing the conversation.

  19. You're in no position to make demands.

    You wish to justify your beliefs -- which are apparently that Messianics ought to be stoned by Orthodox Jews (!) -- by suggesting we'd do the same to Schneerson Chabadniks.

    Well, you're wrong. :-) I wouldn't stone a Chabad member who thinks Schneerson is the divine messiah.

    Apparently, you would. And you use this to justify persecution of Messianics. Wow.

  20. Yirmiahu/Yirmeyahu - interesting how the spelling of your name has miraculously changed throughout this discussion!

    That is so ridiculous - he'd stone Messianic Jews! The depth of bigotry on display are astounding, Yirmeyahu, thanks for letting us know where you stand.

  21. Well, was that so hard? You do not believe it is idolatry to worship a human, even if that human is not G-d. Fine. I think that saying it isn't idolatry to worship someone you DON'T believe is divine is even more problematic than your own belief but whatever...

    For the record, I made no demands. I just refused to answer your questions when you evaded mine. When you ignored it the first time I asked, I dropped it until I asked Yeze this morning. You chose to respond without answering, I chose to point that out..nothing more nothing less.

    But don't put words in my mouth. I never mentioned stoning...you did, because it is the Torah punishment for idolatry, but as you know Rabbinic tradition requires the court to eschew capital punishment as much as possible. The question wasn't about capital punishment, it was about defining idolatry.

    Yeze- would you call the Torah's stance on homosexuality bigotry?

    Judah--I understand why you have chosen the rhetorical approach you have...but it is unbecoming. I have been polite and played by your rules, but for someone who claims to be open to debate you have been uncharacteristically antagonistic. If you didn't strike me as someone I thought was really more reasonable than that then I wouldn't bother posting here. I'm not promoting my site, now am I, nor have I made any argument against your beliefs. I have simply offered alternative views on peripheral issues.

    In your refusal to try to understand why those who disagree with you can find your beliefs objectionable you have resorted not to logic but rhetoric in which you stereotype those who disagree with you as violent anarchists, you have "permitted" worshiping mere mortals, and throne the entire system of Torah punishments under the ad populum bus of wester/liberal/politically correct morality.

    And finally Yeze, despite your sarcasm and compulsion to use both spellings consistently, my name did not "change throughout", I mistakenly used an alternative spelling I use in other contexts on my initial comment on this thread, all subsequent comments have utilized the same spelling I have used consistently at this blog. I fail to see the relevance and think your reaction is immature.

  22. >> you stereotype those who disagree with you as violent anarchists

    Nah. Yad L'achim and friends have done that to themselves with their vigilante violence against fellow Jews, violence that you have not condemned, but have instead acted as an apologist for.

    >> don't put words in my mouth. I never mentioned stoning

    Oh, so you don't think Messianics should be stoned, either?

    But you still think Messianics should be subject to Judaic court sentencing for idolatry, yeah?

  23. Judah:

    Good thoughts and good work. Fundamentalism is a trap I am familiar with. When you are caught in it, you are afraid to speak against it because you fear the whole system may crash down like a house of cards.


    God is glorious and mighty and does not depend on human-built structures of Orthodoxy and boundaries. Release yourself to God and don't worry about coming out from an oppressive religious system. You will find that God is waiting on the other side of the artificial boundaries your system has created. Almost everything you believe about God will come out intact. But he does call you away from evil and right now it is a barrier between you and him.

    Derek Leman

  24. "Nah. Yad L'achim and friends have done that to themselves with their vigilante violence against fellow Jews, violence that you have not condemned, but have instead acted as an apologist for."

    Baldface lie

  25. Yirmiahu,

    Your whole religious system is a bold face lie... Starting with the oral law that was given at mount Sinai... You know it is not true, and yet you are defending the defensible... You got some chutzpah, boychik.....

  26. Sorry, should say idefensible...

  27. It's seems that this is degenerating into "let's bash the Orthodox" thing.

    I am also a bit concerned with Derek's characterization of "Orthodoxy" as "human-built" and even "oppressive religious system" (a wide net is cast, with no disclaimers given as to which specific strain of OJ this may directed to).

    Perhaps this is simly an emotional reaction to "anti-missionaries", but this is something that I would expect to see (and regularly do see) in triumphalist Christian descriptions of Judaism as a "man-made" religion.

    Both Christianity and Judaism have "man-made", "human-built", and so called "oppressive" elements in them, and have those who misrepresent them. Let's be careful at throwing around descriptions.

    Now, to Yirmeyahu... earlier you mentioned that Timm Hegg almost officiated your wedding. Are you a Gentile convert to Judaism or were involved in One Law movement in the past? Curious...

  28. Missionary Christians/Messianics and non-missionary Christians/Messianics believe Jews need to believe in their version of the historical Pharisaic Ribi Yehoshu`a in order to have a place in `olam haba ("eternal life"). Unfortunately, they are confused by the terms "salvation", "eternal life" and "Kingdom of HaShem/Heaven", assuming all are the same thing, which is not true, and this is what gives them faulty theology that goes against the Tanakh.

    Also, mere belief is not given huge weight in Hebrew thought. Correctly: belief in HaShem encompasses everything and is sufficient. Belief in HaShem, emuna (faith), means you do what HaShem says, no protest; in other words: complete faith in HaShem means you will submit your life to the Torah, this is what Mashiahh should teach, not something else that goes against this.

    Anti-Missionary Jews and other observant Jews know that the Tanakh says in order to have a place in `olam haba, one adheres to the Torah out of love for the Creator and love for their fellow Jew as themselves. They are correct and they are truly following the specific words of the historical Pharisaic Ribi Yehoshu`a who taught just this in accord with Beith Hillel.
    These Jews see the spreading of false doctrines of Christianity/Messianism portrayed above as detrimental to Jewish life--and they are right!

    For example, what happens to various secular/reform/conservative Jews who embrace J*sus or a various Messianic version of him? They don't get any more Torah observant! In fact, they get less observant and hateful toward observant Judaism! This proves this made-up figure, the complete opposite of the historical Pharisaic Ribi Yehoshu`a, is NOT the Mashiahh.

  29. Regarding my previous statement on emuna (faith), consider the following.

    Shemoth/Exodus 23 says in verse 20-22:

    הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָךְ לְפָנֶיךָ לִשְׁמָרְךָ בַּדָּרֶךְ וְלַהֲבִיאֲךָ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר הֲכִנֹתִי:
    הִשָּׁמֶר מִפָּנָיו וּשְׁמַע בְּקֹלוֹ אַל תַּמֵּר בּוֹ כִּי לֹא יִשָּׂא לְפִשְׁעֲכֶם כִּי שְׁמִי בְּקִרְבּוֹ:
    כִּי אִם שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע בְּקֹלוֹ וְעָשִׂיתָ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אֲדַבֵּר וְאָיַבְתִּי אֶת אֹיְבֶיךָ וְצַרְתִּי אֶת צֹרְרֶיךָ:
    Behold, I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.
    Beware of him and obey him; do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your transgression, for My Name is within him.
    For if you hearken to his voice and do all that I say, I will hate your enemies and oppress your adversaries.

    Hhaza"l (Our Sages) say this figure, Malakh HaShem (the Angel/Messenger of HaShem) is the figure known as Metatron. Rashi notes this in his commentary.

    Notice the last verse "hearken to his and do all that I say". If we are to obey Metatron ("Shomrenu" in Hebrew; "Our Kepper" in English), hearken to his voice, we will do all that HaShem says. Doing all that HaShem says is hearkening to the voice of the Malakh HaShem who is Our Keeper.

    Therefore trusting in HaShem, doing all that he says, will always be a recipe for life, both on this earth and eternal. The Tanakh says so, and it is true. The Torah is our life and the length of our days. She is a Tree of Life to all who take hold of her.

  30. Gene:

    I understand my words can be read that way, but I hope you know me better. There is room within Judaism to critique different ideas of what Judaism is about, just as within Christianity.

    I believe that my comments were placed in the context of fundamentalism in Judaism. Yes, I do oppose some of the ideas of certain elements of Orthodox Judaism and I know you do as well. It would not be seemly to start listing some of the offensive things believed by some in Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox circles.

    But this in no way is an attack, such as Dan's, against the sages or the importance of Judaism and tradition.

    Derek Leman

  31. As I read, not only through your comments here, but on whatever website you were commenting pertaining to conversion I almost can't help but say "I like this guy." Judah seems a pertinent name. :) and hilariously ironic. :)
    culanu k'ehkahd.

  32. Here's the thing folks, if I may..
    If you believe Mashiach was crucified for YOUR sin (both Jew and gentile), and you are righteousified and can only be righteousified by faith through grace, and that the power of His life giving spirit has saved both Jew and Gentile who believe, tearing down the wall of partition. Then to behave as if it's still up, there's still a distinction is to deny the power of the cross, and basically deny that the master has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to G-d making both into one new man. For what? Religion? "unless a man be born again he shall not enter the kingdom of G-d." If that's the case, whether skin has been cut off your penis yet or not, or an earthly court (of non-believers) has accepted the "conversion" or not does not negate a reality of "G-d has accepted them." And if "G-d has received them" who are you really to judge; or anybody? Do you blaspheme the Holy Spirit who has sanctified and brought into obedience and subjection to His Holy Torah a gentile by birth?