Messianic Jews have generally grown to be more accepted in the mainline Jewish community, but the relationship remains a turbulent one at best. Illustrating this sad fact is a story out of Israel reported by CBM News a couple of days ago:
BEERSHEVA, Israel – Four and a half years after hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews disrupted a Messianic Jewish service, throwing chairs and assaulting some of the members, an Israeli court ruled against the Messianic Jews’ civil suit this week. . . .
Bass and his congregation (with the backing of many Messianic Jewish leaders in Israel) were suing the chief rabbi of Beersheva, Yehuda Deri, and the anti-missionary organization, Yad L’Achim, for what they believe was their part in the melee that took place on December 24, 2005. . . .
According to Bass, the judge acknowledged “that an extremely serious event did take place.” However, he claimed that Deri and Yad L’Achim were not responsible for any illegal activity – before, during or after the incident.
In other words, the judge ruled that the incident in question did take place, but that the congregation overreached in trying to sue Rabbi Deri and Yad L’Achim for the actions of their members, not having produced sufficient information that the two defendants in question directly incited the incident. It is possible that, as CBM News supposes, the congregation’s belief in Yeshua biased the court against them; on the other hand, Messianic Jews have won some prominant court cases in recent years, including the right to have their stores declared to be kosher regardless of their beliefs, so we should not assume bias every time we lose, either.
In other words, we need to avoid becoming victims of a victim mentality, of becoming defensive or bitter. The persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel is really small potatoes compared to the persecution of Jews and Christians elsewhere in the world. I mean, at least they didn’t find their synagogue razed to the ground the next morning.
When Yeshua was persecuted by some of the Pharisees, He didn’t let it stop Him from sharing table-fellowship with others of that group. When Paul was persecuted for the Good News, he accepted forty-strokes-minus-one on five separate occasions (2Co. 11:24), which in Jewish Law meant that he could not be excommunicated (m.Sanhedrin 3:15). How many of us would be willing to accept a scarring and potentially life-threatening beating not once, not twice, but five times in order to remain a part of mainstream Jewish life?
With all that in mind, I pray my Messianic brethren over in Israel will be encouraged rather than discouraged, continue to reach out rather than turn inward, and continue to show love and meekness to the rest of our people.