26 March 2008

Israelis and Messianic Jews

Of note today was the visit of the mayor of Ariel to young Ami Ortiz. The story follows from Jerusalem Post online edition.

Anti-missionaries suspected in attack
Yaakov Lappin , THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 23, 2008

Police investigating the sending of a package which exploded in the home of a Christian pastor in Ariel are leaning toward the theory that a Jewish anti-missionary was behind the attack, the preacher told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

David Ortiz's 16-year-old son, Ami, sustained serious injuries in the blast, after opening the package, which was made to look like a Purim gift.

"They [the police], as far as I understand, do not suspect Palestinian terrorism. They suspect a Jewish anti-missionary motive," Ortiz told the Post by phone from his Ariel home, minutes after returning from the hospital.

"At the start of the investigation, they went in the direction of Palestinian terrorism. Now they're going in the other direction," he added.

Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Dani Poleg said he could not comment on the investigation due to a court-imposed media blackout, in force since Friday.

Ami's life was no longer in danger, his father said, but he was still suffering from serious injuries all over his body.

"His neck had an eight-inch [20-cm.] gash like someone slit his throat. He has a ruptured lung. Doctors had to operate on his tongue. He has second-degree burns to his chest and arms, and there is no flesh on the thighs," Ortiz said, adding that doctors were forced to amputate two toes. "They're trying to continue to make sure that he won't lose his arms and legs. His whole body is full of fragments of shrapnel," he said.

Ortiz described the moments after the explosion when the teenager's mother, Leah, "saw flames coming out of the windows after going downstairs to throw out the garbage." After running upstairs, Leah saw "her son on the floor. She held his neck and she kept the wound closed with her hands." Using her paramedic training, "she made a hole so he could breathe. Then the ambulance driver who arrived kept him alive. When we got to hospital, he was operated on in five places," Ortiz said, adding that he considered his son's recovery to be "a miracle." Ortiz's Jewish-born wife, Leah, is a member of Jews for Jesus. The pastor says dozens of families in Ariel have been influenced by his teachings. "We have about 50 families," he declared.

He described a long history of tensions with anti-missionary activists in Ariel, which included flyers and a petition calling for the family to leave the city.

"My neighbor said he had been told by religious Jews that if we were the only ones living in this building, they would have bombed it," Ortiz said. "When we first came into this town, the rabbi visited us and told me I was not allowed to talk about Yeshua [Jesus] outside of my apartment. I told him that as far I know, this is not a crime in this country. This is a democratic country, people can say whatever they want outside their house," Oritz said.

"They put posters all over town warning residents to keep away from us and calling for us to be excommunicated, and there was a demonstration in front of our house. If all my neighbors had signed the petition calling on us to leave, I would have to leave by law. Some of my neighbors refused to sign," he added.

Four of Oritz's children have completed their military service in the IDF, he said. "I have served in the reserves for 15 years. I was shot at and stoned in Nablus. All of my children went to school here, they are normal children, we are normal people. Ami is the captain of his school basketball team."

Rabbi Dov Lifshitz, chairman of the Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization, said he doubted that Jews were behind the bombing.

"Someone who thinks logically will not do this. It just harms the struggle. I'm sure this is not connected to the anti-missionary cause," he told the Post.

If the culprit is Jewish, the bomber "is either crazy or does not understand the struggle," Lifshitz added.

He estimated that Christian missionaries have succeeded in converting around 15,000 Jews to Christianity in Israel, adding that the missionaries target those "without defense - people ignorant of Judaism, such as Russian immigrants, and the lonely. This is why they succeeded, in a Jewish state, unbelievably. They have 120 branches in Israel," he said, blaming the Jewish Agency and the government for failing to provide a Jewish education to new immigrants.

"We are now pushing for legislation that would make it illegal for members of any religion to try and convert others to their faith," Lifshitz said. "Our struggle isn't against anyone. What we're saying is, we are Jews. Let us be Jews. Christians should remain Christians. In our 50 years of activity, we've never had any violence. We have a big argument with messianic Jews, but that doesn't include violence," Lifshitz said.

And this article is also part of Jerusalem Post online edition in another sector...
Members of the Messianic community in Israel said Monday that while the near-fatal attack last week on 15-year-old Ami Ortiz of Ariel marks a major escalation, it comes after years of anti-missionary violence directed at the community by both Jews and Muslims.

"We get the feeling that nobody in Israel is willing to take a strong stand against violent anti-missionary activity," said Pastor Howard Bass, head of the Nahalat Yeshua [Jesus's Inheritance] Congregation in Beersheba.

"We have experienced numerous attacks on the Messianic communities by haredim over the years," said Bass. "But there is very little sympathy for our plight."

Ortiz was seriously wounded after a parcel bomb in the form of a Purim gift blew up in his face. Ortiz is the son of David Ortiz, a prominent Messianic Christian pastor.

This was the most serious attack against the embattled Messianic community in Israel. Both Muslims and Orthodox Jews, who are vehemently opposed to Christian missionary activity, are suspected of sending the bomb.

The Messianic community in Israel numbers about 15,000, spread out in roughly 120 congregations across the nation. The community members, who believe there is no contradiction between being Jewish and believing Jesus to have been the Savior and the Son of God, has been steadily growing, in large part due to proselytizing activities. About half of the community's membership was born Jewish.

Bass, who was born Jewish, said that he saw the growth of the community of "believers" as another sign of the imminent second resurrection of the Messiah. He admitted that he shared his beliefs with his neighbors in the hope that he would influence them.

"When I was involved with politics I tried to influence people's political views. Now I do the same thing with religion."

Just this week Bass said that two surveillance cameras that monitor his house of prayer were stolen. Last Saturday, during prayers at the 100-strong congregation, a group of haredim stood outside and shouted, temporarily stopping the prayers.

Beersheba has a history of tension between haredim and the Messianic community.

In December 2005, just before Christmas, Bass's congregation was attacked by hundreds of haredi demonstrators who received the backing of the local rabbinic leadership. The demonstrators had heard rumors that busloads of Jewish children were to be baptized by the community.

Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, an advocacy group that represents members of the Messianic community, said that the police did not press charges against the assailants who forced their way into the church and forcibly stopped the baptism of two Israelis. The intruders threw chairs around and pushed Bass into the baptismal pool, according to Myers.

In Arad, another flashpoint for tension between the Messianic community and Orthodox Jews, the Chasdei Yeshua [Jesus's Loving-Kindness] Congregation, a tiny community of about 30, has been harassed repeatedly by the local Ger Hassidic community.

Lura Beckford, a Chasdei Yeshua member whose husband Edwin is presently under house arrest for attacking an anti-missionary activist in Arad last month during a confrontation, said that there had been numerous confrontations over the years.

"They've verbally attacked us on a regular basis and they even tried to burn down our chess club last February," said Beckford.

Meanwhile, Pastor David Ortiz, speaking to The Jerusalem Post from Schneider Medical Center, where his son Ami is hospitalized in serious condition, said that since he came to Israel over 20 years ago he has been the target of violence, mostly by Muslims.

"In the past, I have traveled into the neighboring Arab villages, which are all 100% Muslim, to distribute the whole Bible [Old and New Testament]," said Ortiz.

"Recently, with the deterioration of the security situation I stand outside the villages explaining to people about Jesus. Or I pick up local Arabs who hitchhike and I give them a Bible. I tell them 'This is the history of your people.'"

Ortiz said that he has been beaten up on at least one occasion by Palestinians from a neighboring village while distributing Bibles, and that a Molotov cocktail was once thrown at his car.

In the mid-1990's the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Ekrima Said Sabri, issued a fatwa [religious order] calling to kill Ortiz.

"The fatwa was even published in the Al Quds newspaper. I got a call from the US Embassy asking me to keep a low profile.

"Luckily, I am still here, still ticking. But I live my life as if every day could be my last."

Last November Isa Bajalia, an Arab-American evangelical pastor who works with Ortiz in proselytizing among Palestinians, told the Post that he was forced to flee his hometown of Ramallah after being threatened by a Palestinian security official.

Bajalia, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, was ministering to a group of 30 to 35 people in Ramallah and carrying out missionary work there.

Ortiz said that he has also been exposed to mild anti-missionary campaigns initiated by Jews. Over the years pamphlets have been distributed in Ariel with his picture on them warning that Ortiz and others that belong to the Messianic community are "masquerading as Jews." But in general, Ortiz, who has brought significant Evangelical Christian financial support to Ariel, enjoys the backing of Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman.

Rabbi Shalom Lipshitz, head of Yad Le'achim, the largest anti-missionary organization in Israel, said that he opposed all violent anti-missionary action. But he added that he saw the Messianic community as an enemy to the Jewish people.

"There is no one who hates Jews more than they do," said Lipshitz. "They are trying to uproot Jewish faith, just like the Spanish did in the Inquisition. The only thing different is that these people cannot use physical force like the Spanish did. But they try to take advantage of the poor. They prey on Jews who do not know anything about Jewish heritage.

"We try to explain the 'truth.' We try to tell people that you cannot be Jewish and believe in Jesus at the same time. It just doesn't go together.

"Our job at Yad Le'achim is to make sure the Jewish people gets bigger, and fight people.”


Jeffrey Levine said...

Let's be honest. There is no such thing as a Jew for Jesus. No matter how much noise you make. I don't beleive that violence is an answer ere, but the tactics of groups like your and groups of Messianic Christians (Messianic Jews is anoother oxymoron) is very destructive.

If you want to try and convert Jews, you may find that we do not tolerate your activity in a begign way! If you want to beleive in the false Messiah, that is fine by me, but leave Jews alone. We already believe in G-d and have a closer relationship with him than Christians do!

Anonymous said...

Jesus was a jew whats the deal with that???!!!

Bob said...

Jeffrey, I am honest. I am a Jew, and was and will be when I die. And let's be honest. I do believe in Jesus. So you can say I don't exist, but your denial doesn't create or amend my reality.

And 'very destructive' as a phrase that categorizes my group's tactics compared to the deplorable bombing in Ariel... wow, do you need to amend your views!

Bob said...

Hey anonymous, the deal is that Jesus was a Jew, grew up in Israel, died in Jerusalem, and rose from the dead there. Amazing, isn't it, when history is unpacked?

Jeffrey Levine said...

Sorry, but the concept of G-d in Judaism is very different from the Trinity as accepted by Christians. Christians accept Jesus. Calling yourself a Jew, does NOT make you one. Jews define what a Jew is and you do not make the cut. You will never be accepted within the Jewish community.

In addition, the organization called Jews for Jesus is filled with Christians and is a front for the evangelical Christian community.

If you would like to be a Jew, you must give up on Jesus!

Always remember that the Jews that werte contemporaries of Jesus rejected him outright. You have a lot of nerve to think you know better than they did.

Jews reject Jesus because G-d told us to!!

Rabbi Eli Cohen said...

Hey Bob,
How are you doing?
I'm sure you are well aware that both Jews for Judsaism and Yad L'Achim were very quick to condemn the horrific act of violence after the news broke. see the statement here http://jewsforjudaism.org.il/
I would like to post a link to another blog to give a bit of an even balanced report.
There are certain areas that we can all agree on. 1. Violence should never be accepted. 2. Don't point fingers if it's nothing more that an assumption.
May we merit to see G-d's glory revealed in this world TODAY! Amen

Bob said...

Jews argue about so many things, but this is clear. There are Jews who don't believe in Jesus and there are Jews who do. Name calling doesn't work; both exist.

As for what some groups have done to distance themselves from the violence done to young Ami.. shame on the groups who will eventually be charged with the shameful atmosphere of antagonism and threats. Shame on those who aggravate the situation and who are not moderate voices in a divided argument.

Jeffrey Levine said...


Jews do not beleive in Jesus. When someone accepts Jesus as their savior, they are a Christian!

The fact is the Jewish community defines who is Jewish, and when one accepts Jesus, they have opted out of the Jewish community.

It's like having Christians for Satan! Your group is a gimmick, and Jews find your behavior very offensive. No Jew educated in their religion would give your organization, even a seconds attention.

Bob said...

Sadly Jeffrey, you are repeating well-worn arguments, but they don't fit. I was well educated in Orthodox Judaism and have come to faith in Jesus as our Messiah and am so grateful to God for His love for me (and for all people).

Jeffrey Levine said...

Again, as I have said no Jews believe in Jesus. When you accept Jesus, you become a Christian! All your caterwalling about being a Jew that believes in Jesus is NONSENSE!

Tell me about you "orthodox" background. Give me the details, Then explain to me how you were able to rationalize the vastly differnt themes in Judaism, and Christianity.

To true Jews, the Trinity is just one of a thousand reasons Jews do not accept Jesus. Mediation is another factor. I could go on all day.

Bob said...


Hag semeach to you and yours. I asked Eli Cohen to reply to you. He has queried me in the past and can well answer for my yiddishkeit.

You see, the issue is not whether or not I'm Jewish. That was settled long ago. Or whether I had a decent Jewish education. I did.

The issue from my perspective is ....
is Jesus the Jewish Messiah, and if so, let's follow him, and if not, then not even the goyim should.

Jeffrey Levine said...

Sory Bob,
Once you have accepted Jesus, you are no longer considered a Jew! You can always return, but for Judaism, Jesus is a deal breaker.

If indeed you had a Jewish education you would never be able to accept Jesus. G-d gave the Jews a set of explicit conditions that needed to be met by the authentic Jewish messiah. As your Jewish education would inform you, Jesus only met one of those criteria. Since Jesus failed to meet G-d requirements, he is a fraud.

I would question the depth pof your Jewish education, since it is so easy for you to accept what is obviously a made up story.

Bob said...

What a straw man Jeff builds. You cannot be well educated in Jewish life and accept Jesus. I did accept Jesus, therefore according to him I had a weak education. Life is so simple when you create it in your image or to your liking. Unfortunately for Jeff, that doesn't hold water.

There are others, and me, who did have good Jewish educations, and even so have found Jesus to be the fulfillment of our Jewish longing, for the personal Messiah who would be born in Bethlehem, who would live a holy and innocent life, who would be wounded and beaten for us, even dying on the cross, where they pierced his hands and feet.

What a joy to discover Y'shua, who after all that, rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures and is alive still to make intercession for us. I'm hunbled when I think how much God loves me and all of us.

What joy to know Him. What a promise fulfilled. Thank you Lord for all you do on our behalf, long before we ever thought about you, or became interested in you. You made it clear and you make it clear. Glory to God in the Highest.

Jeffrey Levine said...

My last post contained the sentence, "If indeed you had a Jewish education you would never be able to accept Jesus." I did not speak of a "Jewish Life" as you responded but an education in Judaism.

If you are familiar with Torah you would know that G-d gave the Jews a set of requirements for the true Messiah. Jesus did not fullfil even one of thise requirements.

If you say, you were educated in Judaism, you must believe u=in the words of the Torah. This precludes any belief in Jesus.

It like a manp that tell you that you cannot get there from here. You would have to abandon a significant portion of Judaism to accept Jesus.

I am pretty familiar with your organization. I know it is a front for evangelical Christianity, and that there are far more Christian members than Jewish ones.

We Jews are so proud of our religion that we make it public, and allow any truly interested parties to take classes, and if they choose to do so, they may convert.

Unlike Chistian organizations like yours we do not use lies, mistranlations and subterfudge to trick people into believing.

I feel a great loss when a Jewish person accpets Jesus, for that is not a righteous path to G-d! Luckily the numbers are very small.

Bob said...

Jeff thinks he knows, but doesn't. What a bad idea then to speak and then to confirm to everyone what you don't know.

Know what I mean?

Hopefully this shabbat you will reflect on the Lord of life who loves you and sent Y'shua to die for your sins and make you forgiven. What a joy to know him!

bernardhutabarat said...

Shalom Bob,

Do you have any contact of Messianic JEw Assembly in Singapore and Indonesia ?

toda rabah,

crysstali said...

Hey Jeffrey, you's couldn't handle the Lord on Mt Sinai so why do you think he sent Christ. Hellooo... wake up...

Jews for Judaism are becoming jealous of Jews for Jesus, your religion is dying for there is no life and no joy left to be found in it. The Lord, to be found in and through Christ is not merely a religion but a spiritual state of being, which is why there is life and joy to be found in it. So your religion like that of your brothers of islam and any other "religion" including the catholics etc., are becoming obselete and turning to terrorism in your last days because you know your end is close, just like satan, isen't it.

The Lord is comming fast and is now very close, he is a jealous G-d and will not tolerate rebelliousness to be found in any deluisionary gods(religion) who are now imploding and attacking each other like sharks, read your Tora 2 Chronicles 20:22-23. There is wisdom in the old Jewish saying "only the TRUTH will last" and actually WORK in peoples hearts and lives also... This is what I pray for and trust, IN THE LORD.

You earnestly pray to your G-d to fool, with an open and honest heart full of love for him like a child and you will see what happens. The LOrd himself, through his Holy Spirit will lead you directly to Christ, for it is the form HE chose to get up close and personal to us. And it was his Holy Spirit, made EVIDENT for you in your Tora in the form of a pillar of fire, hellooo... that led you guys through the desert.

What more signs and wonders do you need... nothing but rebellious and brainless, faithfull to nothing but yourselves, with hearts of stone. You need Yeshua and you will discover this for yourself if you dare to honestly pray to the
G-d of your forefathers, like we do.