What status for Messianic Jews in Israel?
Avi Mizrachi is the Executive Director of Dugit Messianic Outreach Centre and Pastor of Adonai Roi Congregation. He was born in Tel Aviv to a Jewish Family. In 1984, after serving in the Israeli Air Force, he traveled to America where he met Yeshua as his Savior and Lord. During this time, he also met his wife Chaya. Together they attended Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. Avi and his wife Chaya returned to Israel to serve the Kingdom in 1987.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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It is being produced again
Briskilla and Tian Jie arrived on the morning of May 15. The season of wheat harvest was at its peak, the sheaves ready to be harvested. Hermana picked them up from the airport and escorted them to one of the nearest fields. They could not resist it. As tired as they were, they had to stop and glean.
The other team members joined us and we started praying. Five of us were going to cross into Jordan, each one with her own ideas and agenda. But what was God’s mind? Well, we had to learn to listen together, if we wanted to figure it out.
This was my first prophetic trip ever. I had no idea that every word spoken, every stressful moment, any misunderstanding – are all symbolic; that all sow their part to the advancement of the plot.
Finally, after two days of talking our heads off, praying, sharing back and forth, eating – of course – and learning to appreciate each other, we felt like we have a common rythm, a shared heartbeat. That we are ready to hit the road.
Before leaving home we collected 12 stones, just in case we’ll find a resting place for them somewhere in Jordan. And there was one more thing we wanted to put our hands on as we step into the wound – the Balm of Gilead.
Several years ago, at the northern part of the Dead Sea, production of the Biblical Perssimon tree, known as Balsemon, from which the Balm of Gilead is produced, has begun. The Balm of Gilead is an expensive perfume that was produced in the Mountains of Gilead (moderd day Northern Jordan).
We met with the guy who produces it, and heard a fascinating lecture about the process. The tree when scratched, produces tears of resin. And that weeping of the plant is not in vain – it produces oil that in Biblical days was used as a healing balm (see Jer. 46:11; 8:22). Apparently it takes more than 100 kgs of flowers, leaves or bark to produce just one cup of Balm. Crazily expensive!
We bought a few small bottles and headed north, to the crossing point. As we did that, we realized we are already driving in the wound, in the rift, starting at the southern point that I saw in the picture [see Crossing Over – A Hebrew], which is also the lowest point on planet earth. This was one more reminder that deep healing always starts with true humility of spirit. Anyway, this time we had some healing in our “wings” and a little better understanding of our mission.
Or at least that was what we thought…
This article originally appeared on Ot OoMofet Ministries, July 29, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Orna, born and raised in Israel, is a lover of books, and especially The Book. She is fascinated with the Hebrew language and with the God who created the world through the mere expression of Hebrew words. In 2003 she established Ot OoMofet Ministries (Hebrew for “A sign and Example”), whose main focus is turning stories of brokenness and hardships into stories of victory. Besides ministering to the broken hearted in Israel, she now teaches worldwide about the widowhood of Israel, the role the church plays in its restoration and on a variety of other subjects.
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Worship for the King: Keren Silver’s new recording to be released in August
Coming from a musical family that worshipped together on a regular basis, Keren Silver has been singing for as long as she can remember and composed her first song around the age of 13 with the desire to see people come to God and experience His presence.
At 16, she became aware that God was calling her to share her gift with the world. She resisted for several years because of reluctance to be in the spotlight and feeling that it was not the right timing, but finally gave in and recorded Show Me Your Glory, which was released in 2014.
She thought that would be it. Her second album, King of Glory, due out in mid-August, wasn’t her idea either.
“Both albums came out of surrender to God and a desire to be faithful with the gift He gave me and not bury it in the ground,” she explained. “I see these songs as God’s songs, which He gives me in order to bless the body of believers in Israel in particular, as well as around the world.”
A number of the songs on the second album came out of a difficult season.
“I had gone through a stillbirth – the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced. I was so shattered that I had a difficult time hearing God,” she said. “He started giving me songs containing His words and cut through the dark and difficult place I was in. One of the things that God showed me during that time was that He is the King of Glory, both in the good times and in the bad. He began to teach me that the purpose of our lives is to know Him, become more like Him, and take part in His glory. This also means knowing His suffering.”
It was then that she started singing again.
“After my personal tragedy took place, God lifted my head and began to show me His glory. He is the King of Glory and worthy of all praise, no matter what I am feeling or going through. It’s a very basic yet deep and life-altering truth. Although everything changes around us and seems unstable, He does not change; He is I Am Who I Am, the Lord of Hosts, as I declare in one of the songs. And that’s why this CD is called King of Glory – because that’s who He is. He is worthy of our praise.”
About a year ago, Silver felt God telling her to release another album. She teamed up with Messianic music producer Avi Perrodin and began recording her first demos in November, with the goal of completing the entire project before giving birth for the fourth time this past March.
Unexpectedly, she started having problems with her voice. Multiple specialists found nothing wrong with her vocal cords and suggested that the phenomenon was probably related to pregnancy hormones.
“It was terrible and very scary,” she admitted. “We recorded everything except my final vocals and had to stop because I couldn’t sing. It was frustrating because it put the schedule for the CD on hold, but looking back, it was God’s way of making sure I stayed calm. Recording a CD on a tight schedule is a stressful process and this way, I had no choice but to step back.”
In the meantime, musicians from all over Israel participated in the album, including Silver’s younger brother, David Seguin. Seguin sings on Silver’s first album but this time he recorded two of his own songs, which are already sung in congregations throughout Israel.
“Working with him comes naturally, and my music wouldn’t be complete without him,” she said.
Silver went back to the studio two months after giving birth.
“After Selah was born, I was listening to the songs before we recorded my final vocals, and just started weeping. Not because of my pain; the Spirit of God came and washed my soul and brought so much healing. Often, I’d hold Selah while recording, because at that stage she would stay still and quiet for long periods of time. God used that, too, to heal me: singing songs that came out of a dark season because of losing a baby while standing in the studio with a newborn in my arms was just amazing.”
The album’s main themes are our expectation of Yeshua’s return and praising Him while declaring His unchanging truth.
“After releasing my first album, in which I asked God to show me His glory, He began to stir an intense yearning for Yeshua’s return and for His kingdom. A desire for His reign in my life and the universe in general,” she said.
“They’re not my songs,” Silver said of the effect that Show Me Your Glory had on people all over the world. “The Lord has really encouraged me through people who were touched, changed and freed by the first album. I’m so humbled and privileged that God chooses to use the songs that He gives me to work in other people.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what God is going to do through the second album. I want God to use it to free captives, heal the brokenhearted, comfort those who mourn, give glory for ashes, and a garment of praise instead of heaviness. I want these songs to be a source of blessing and a connection to the true source of living water. That people would be renewed, encouraged and restored through the words that God spoke to me and through me. To see us standing together and giving the King of Glory the praise and worship that He deserves, no matter the circumstances, and watch as He establishes His Kingdom on earth in us and through us.”
Violet moved to Israel in 2013. She lives in Haifa with her husband and their daughter.
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Shocking case of Israeli believers targeted by efforts to revoke their citizenship
Because of their religious beliefs, Ariel and Shayla Hyde, a young married couple from Haifa, are two among many in Israel and abroad who find themselves targets of what amounts to a discrimination campaign by Israel’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) to protect the nation from Messianic Jews.
Ariel’s parents, Richard and Carolyn Hyde, are also longtime targets of a religiously motivated quest by the Ministry of Interior to deport them, and more recently, Ariel’s brother, Avi, and his wife, Liora.
Historically controlled by Shas, a small, ultra-Orthodox Jewish religious political party in Israel, but one which wields much power, the MOI regularly employs arbitrary administrative bullying and quasi-legal maneuvering to obstruct aliyah (immigration to Israel) and deny citizenship to those who do not share their rabbinically held beliefs. In some cases, they also attempt to revoke the existing legal citizen status of family members of those targeted, although, up until now, unsuccessfully.
“In a democratic country, citizens shouldn’t have to fear being stripped of their citizenship,” declares a Haaretz editorial from Dec. 26, 2017.
“Law-abiding people shouldn’t have to fear routine encounters with government agencies,” the editorial continues. “Yet every year, thousands of Israelis are dragged into unfair battles with the Interior Ministry, which has turned its bureaucracy into a a weapon of ultimate power which seeks to disenfranchise citizens and legal residents of whom they don’t approve with the creation of unjustified reasons for the Israel to reassess their citizenship.
“Israelis who have sought to acquire legal status in Israel for their foreign (and non-Jewish) spouses have sometimes found their own citizenship called into question. Instead of examining such requests on their merits and granting the spouses of Israeli citizens appropriate legal status, the state has exploited this bureaucratic encounter to threaten these citizens.”
None seem more threatened than the Hyde family. The common theme behind the MOI’s efforts: The Hydes are believing, Messianic Jews.
“After some Messianic Jews have already immigrated to Israel, the Ministry of Interior can refuse to renew their passports, refuse to register their newly born children, and in extreme cases (although it has yet to happen) revoke their citizenship,” Michael Decker, lawyer and partner at Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh, writes in The Law of Return with a Focus on Christians and Messianic Jews.
“In essence, the above mentioned situation reveals an illegal alliance between a governmental office that is obligated to operate in a non-discriminative, legal and equal manner and between fundamental religious groups, their core values being to advance their main objectives of preventing Jews from believing in ways different from theirs.”
Ariel and his parents moved to Israel and became citizens in 2003. Two years later Ariel met his future wife, Shayla, and they married in 2008. After Ariel finished college in the United States (both he and Shayla are American citizens), they returned to Israel to live in 2010, promptly submitting to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) all paperwork required for Shayla to obtain Israeli citizenship.
Israeli law provides that a non-citizen spouse of an Israeli citizen who meets all other legal requirements be granted citizenship after a four-and-a-half-year waiting period. Though Ariel and Shayla have lived here together for eight years and now have three young children (with a fourth expected in August), the MOI has not only denied Shayla’s application but has also recently informed the couple of its intent to revoke Ariel’s citizenship, effectively forcing them to leave Israel.
Ariel has served honorably in the IDF. Neither he, his parents, Shayla nor any of their children or siblings have broken any Israeli law. The Hyde family’s sole crime, it seems, is that they are Messianic Jews. They are not considered Jews at all, in the eyes of the Shas party who controls the Ministry of Interior, and therefore not entitled to live as citizens of Israel.
The late Moshe Landau, the fifth president of Israel’s Supreme Court, had this to say about religious freedom in Israel: “Every person in Israel enjoys freedom of conscience, of belief, of religion, and of worship. This freedom is guaranteed to every person in every enlightened, democratic regime, and therefore it is guaranteed to every person in Israel. It is one of the fundamental principles upon which the State of Israel is based.” (Freedom of Religion In Israel)
Then there are the broad, unrestrictive and welcoming words of the prophet, Ezekiel, with whom Shas and the MOI are likely to be more familiar, describing the future inhabitants of the modern Jewish homeland:
“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:24-26
But the Shas party, with under 6 percent representation in the Israel Knesset, has somehow become inordinately empowered to dictate who shall and shall not be part of the people of Israel, and continues with impunity to fly in the face of fairness, decency and legality as well as the words of the prophets.
How can this be tolerated in a democratic state?
How can Jews, of all people, deny the legal rights of other Jews given their centuries-long history of injustice and suffering at the hands of others.
Among the many collections of artifacts on display at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem are the harvested shoes of countless Jewish victims of profound injustice. The shoes lay in heaps, unsorted. We cannot know who among their former owners were Ashkenazi or Sephardi or whether or how faithfully they followed Jewish law.
At the end of Ariel and Shayla’s last judicial hearing, Ariel spoke out.
“Usually, in Israel, defendants don’t speak to the judge it’s just the lawyers,” he told Kehila News. “But I asked at the end if I could address the court. When granted permission I told them that in Psalm 94 it says, judgment will return to righteousness.”
“As you’ve heard, the way the Ministry of Interior has been handling this is far from righteous. It’s in your hands to return the judgment here to righteousness,” he told the court. “And it ended up that was the last thing spoken at the meeting.”
At the end, the judge declined to grant the MOI additional time to consider revocation of Ariel’s citizenship but, instead, established guidelines for moving ahead with Shayla’s case. Shortly afterwards, however, apparently contradicting his first ruling (as well as ignoring the Israeli Vice Attorney General’s guidelines which, in part, establish that the MOI has no authority to revoke Israeli citizenship which has been valid for over ten years), the judge granted the MOI additional time to deliberate and 14 more days to present their claims against Ariel.
Since then, the Ministry of Interior officially opted to revoke Ariel’s citizenship though they have failed to present their evidence within the specified deadline, thus, again, failing to obey the court and continuing to leave Ariel and Shayla Hyde in limbo.
Once the MOI complies, the couple will have a short time to respond and the court will then either rule based upon the information at hand or order yet another hearing. “We’ve expected a final response in this process at any moment for the last several years,” Ariel said.
And so continues the harassment and uncertainty of the Hydes and many others whom Shas hopes to banish from Israel.
At a subsequent court hearing, characterized by the Hydes as “sudden,” the presiding judge accepted the Ministry of Interior’s proposal to grant Shayla permanent residency while the MOI continues to attempt to revoke the citizenship status of Ariel and his parents. This despite the fact that, as noted in the story, their efforts lie outside applicable guidelines established by the Israeli Vice Attorney General.
It may seem reasonable, at first glance, to allow the courts to continue to work through the Ministry’s cause, but a recent ruling by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Varda Meroz seems to put the process to shame. Haaretz.com reported in 2012 that Judge Meroz declined to strip the citizenship of a convicted bus bomber, Mohammed Mafarja, whose crimes include attempted murder and aiding the enemy during Operation Pillar of Defense.
“Revoking [citizenship] is reserved for extreme cases,” she ruled. “Mafarja’s case, despite its severity, doesn’t fall within the bounds of such cases.”
How can it be reasonably argued that making videos and expressing one’s faith is more “extreme” than attempted murder?
Ariel and Shayla plan to appeal their case to the District Court. “The Ministry of Interior asked for the appeal to be erased,” Ariel told Kehila News, “as if they had adequately responded and justice was done, but our lawyer demanded [that] the judge…make an official ruling… Thankfully, he agreed, which means that we will be able to appeal it to the District Court.”
The Hyde’s attorney told them afterward that, if they had won the case at the current level, it would have set a limited precedent. “But now that it is apparently going up to a higher court, if we win at that level, it will set a precedent for many believers in Israel, hampering the Ministry of Interior’s efforts to revoke others’ citizenship. So we believe that what the enemy meant for evil, God will turn for good.”
Cliff Keller lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife, Marcia after making Aliyah in the spring of 2011 from the United States. He has recently published a three-novel series, historical biblical fiction the theme of which is The Modern Restoration of Israel, based on the life and times of the prophets Elijah, Hosea and Daniel. Cliff also blogs at Standing by the Gate and has a writing website goodStories.