“Messianic Jews? They are like Hitler!” said the Chief Rabbi of Ashdod to the press a few weeks ago. He continued: “Their goal is clear – they want to convert us all and annihilate every trace of the people of Israel … While Hamas wants our land, they want the soul.”
About a thousand Ultra Orthodox Jews gathered in the southern city of Ashdod last month to protest against the presence of Messianic Jewish Congregation, claiming that they are involved in missionary activity. “There will be a demonstration here every Monday”, the protesters declared. Signs say: “Beware, Soul! Missionaries in the Area”, “The Missionaries Are Hunters of Souls” and “Stop the Mission that is After Our Souls.”
As you can see, it is not always easy to believe in Yeshua in Israel. This article explains a bit about what believers are facing right now in Ashdod and Arad.
“The demonstration passed without violence, and at the end, protesters blew shofars,” reported the YNet news website. According to the news site, Rabbi Sheinin said now that accusations of blood libel can no longer be used against the Jews, “They have found a new strategy: Mission, as it were, in the name of the cursed one who invented this religion (ie. Jesus).” The rabbi spoke strongly against the Messianic Jews, saying: “They want a final solution, like what Hitler wanted, but they have no tools of destruction, so they go with their tools of annihilation.”
It is this fear of annihilation that grips and drives the organisation “Yad L’Achim”. They conduct extensive operations against anything that looks suspiciously like missionary activity in their eyes, precisely because they worry that when Jewish people come to faith in Yeshua, they will cease to be Jewish. They see the reconciliation of Jewish people with their own Messiah as a threat to the very existence of the people of Israel.
According to Yad L’Achim, there have been increasing numbers of complaints regarding the actions of the Messianic Jews in Ashdod, claiming that the Messianic Jews ran a campaign aimed at converting Jews to Christianity. Rabbi Sheinin also disclosed that he himself was, years ago, involved with Yad L’Achim and was part of three similar demonstrations against the French mission in Jaffa. Stalls of Yad L’Achim members explained that their goal is to collect a million signatures “Against the phenomenon.”
Jacob Damkany, a representative of the Messianic Jews in Israel, said that across the country there are about 15 000 Messianic Jews and a half million worldwide. He explains that they simply believe in Jesus, who was Jewish. “We are Jews in every respect”, he said. “We are baptized as Jews and not into Christianity, because Jesus was a Jew and his disciples were Jews.” He said that the Messianic Judaism is not a sect, but a religious community that believes in the Bible: “Every Jew is allowed to have his own opinion. Some may be atheists but they are still Jewish.”
Indeed, many Jewish people hold other religious beliefs, like Buddhism, for example, but there are no protests against them. Many others, including religious Jewish people, might not even believe in God at all… but it is just those who have accepted the forgiveness and salvation of Yeshua that come under fire.
This is precisely why it’s so important that Israelis can seek the truth in privacy on the internet, and explore faith in Yeshua in peace. Your prayers and support for the evangelistic websites are more important than you might realise.
It is not only Ashdod that is experiencing this persecution – Messianic believers in Arad are suffering similar aggression as weekly protests are also being held against them. As they walk on the way to worship at their congregation, Ultra Orthodox Jews regularly harass and curse them, spitting and shouting at them, and hurling cruel insults – even at their young children.
These believers really need our support. Please pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Arad and Ashdod in particular, but for all of those who are experiencing persecution in the name of Yeshua. Pray too for those in Yad L’Achim and all those protesting, that they would also come to know the love and forgiveness of their Messiah.