Unhappy Hanukkah

On 24 December last year [2005], just before the start of Hanukkah, Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua’s Inheritance) Messianic Congregation in Beer Sheva was invaded by a group of Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews).

The angry crowd of men, women and children attempted to disrupt the baptism of two adults. Chairs and tables were overturned, an expensive overhead projector was damaged and worshippers were assaulted. The demonstrators began throwing objects – and then the pastor – into the baptismal pool. The police were also attacked and had to call in reinforcements before the situation calmed down.

The two baptismal candidates, who have since been baptised, were from the nearby town of Arad, where the tiny community of believers faces increasing hostility from the Haredim. A clubhouse used by a couple from the Messianic Fellowship as a chess club and a place of outreach, has been burned down and several lawsuits have been brought against believers, falsely accusing one of assault and others of giving religious literature to minors. The pastor of the congregation in Arad, who has faced weekly demonstrations in front of his home, says:

We are not praying for vengeance upon our attackers, but rather that they may came to the point where they realise that they are actually acting against God. May God bring His plans to come about in Arad, and may He save many, including some from the ultra-Orthodox population.

Indeed, in the midst of this wave of persecution people have been saved. Some secular Jews have been appalled by the activities of the Orthodox and have written to the government on behalf of the believers. Members of the Messianic Action Committee believe that, after the election of a new Knesset in late March, existing private members’ bills aimed at curbing religious freedom will be re-tabled. If that happens ,your support will be needed in the form of letter-writing campaigns. Until then, we need to be vigilant in prayer

This article first appeared in the March 2006 edition of the Herald

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