Messianic Jews in Israel Seek Apology for Attack

by | Apr 23, 2010 | Charisma Archive

After a final court hearing in Israel last week, a congregation of Messianic
Jews awaits a judge’s decision that could force an ultra-orthodox Jewish organization to publicly apologize to them for starting a riot and ransacking a
baptismal service.

A ruling in
favor of the Messianic group would mark the first time an organization opposing Jewish believers in Jesus in Israel has had to apologize to its victims for religious

In 2006 Howard
Bass, pastor of Yeshua’s Inheritance congregation, filed suit against Yehuda Deri,
chief Sephardic rabbi in the city of Beer Sheva, and Yad L’Achim, an
organization that fights against Messianic Jews, for allegedly inciting a riot
at a December 2005 service that Bass was leading.

Bass has
demanded either a public apology for the attack or roughly $400,000 from
the rabbi and Yad L’Achim.

The case, Bass
said, was ultimately about “defending the name of Yeshua [Jesus]” and making
sure that Deri, the leadership of Yad L’Achim and those that support them know
they have to obey the law and respect the right of people to

“They are trying
to get away from having any responsibility,” Bass said.

On Dec. 24,
2005, during a baptismal service in Beer Sheva, a group of about 200 men pushed
their way into a small, covered structure being used to baptize two believers
and tried to stop the service. Police were called to the scene but could not
control the crowd.

Once inside the
building, the assailants tossed patio chairs, damaged audiovisual equipment,
threw a grill and other items into a baptismal pool, and then pushed
Bass into the pool
and broke his glasses.

“Their actions
were violent actions without regard [for injury],” Bass

In the days
before the riot, Yad L’Achim had issued notices to people about a “mass baptism”
scheduled to take place at the facility in the sprawling city of 531,000 people
51 miles southwest of Jerusalem. In the days after the riot,
Deri bragged about the incident on a radio talk show, including a boast that
Bass had been “baptized” at the gathering.

The 2005
incident wasn’t the first time the church had to deal with a riotous attack
after Yad L’Achim disseminated false information about their activities. On Nov.
28, 1998, a crowd of roughly 1,000 protestors broke up a Yeshua’s Inheritance
service after the anti-Christian group spread a rumor that three busloads of
kidnapped Jewish minors were being brought in for baptism. The assailants threw
rocks, spit on parishioners and attempted to seize some of their children, Bass

In response to
the 1998 attack and to what Bass described as a public, cavalier attitude about
the 2005 attack, Bass and others in the Messianic community agreed that he
needed to take legal action.

“What is
happening here has happened to Jews throughout the centuries,” Bass said about
persecution of Messianic Jews in Israel, adding that many in movements opposed
to Messianic Jews in Israel are “arrogant.” He compared their attitudes to the
attitudes that those in Hamas, a Palestinian group dedicated to the destruction
of the State of Israel, have toward Israelis in general.

“They say,
‘Recognize us, but we will never recognize you,'” Bass


Bass has fought
against the leadership of Yad L’Achim and Deri for four years through his
attorneys, Marvin Kramer and Kevork Nalbandian. But throughout the process,
Kramer said, the two defendants have refused to offer a genuine apology for the
misinformation that led to the 2005 riot or for the riot itself.

Kramer said
Bass’s legal team would offer language for an acceptable public apology, and
attorneys for the defendants in turn would offer language that amounted to no
real apology at all.

“We made several
attempts to make a compromise, but we couldn’t do it,” Kramer said.  “What we
were really looking for was a public apology, and they weren’t ready to give a
public apology. If we would have gotten the public apology, we would have
dropped the lawsuit at any point.”

Despite several
attempts to reach Yad L’Achim officials at both their U.S. and Israeli offices,
no one would comment.

The hearing on
April 15 was the final chance the parties had to come to an agreement; the judge
has 30 days to give a ruling. His decision will be issued by mail.

Kramer declined
to speculate on what the outcome of the case will be, but he said he had “proved
what we needed to prove to be successful.”

Belief in

Bass said he is
a strong supporter of Israel but is critical of the way Messianic Jews are
treated in the country.

“Israel opposes
the gospel, and these events show this to be true,” he said. Referring to
Israel, Bass paraphrased Stephen, one of Christianity’s early martyrs, “‘You
always resist the Spirit of God.’ What Stephen said was

Kramer said that
the lawsuit is not against the State of Israel or the Jewish people, but rather
for freedom of religion.

“It has to do
with a violation of rights of individuals to worship in accordance with the
basic tenants of their faith and to practice their faith in accordance with
their beliefs in accordance with law,” he said.


Bass’ lawsuit is
just one of many legal troubles Yad L’Achim is facing. In February, the
Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ), a civil rights advocacy group, filed a
petition asking Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to
declare Yad L’Achim a terrorist organization and order that it be

In the 24-page
document Caleb Myers, an attorney for JIJ, outlined numerous incidences in which
Yad L’Achim or those linked with it had “incited hatred, racism, violence and
terror.” The document cited instances of persecution against Christians, as well
as kidnappings of Jewish women from their Arab partners.

is a ‘Jewish and democratic’ state, while the actions of Yad L’Achim are not
consistent with either the noble values of Judaism or the values of democracy,”
the petition read. “Not to mention the fact that it is a country that arose on
the ashes of a people that was persecuted for its religion, and has resolved
since its establishment to bear the standard of full equality, without
discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion or

According to the
document, Yad L’Achim went after people it
viewed as enemies of ultra-orthodox Judaism. The group particularly targeted
Messianic Jews and other Christians.

“Yad L’Achim refers to ‘missionary activity’ as if it was
the worst of criminal offenses and often arouses fear of this activity,” the
document read. “It should be noted that in the State of Israel there is no
prohibition against ‘missionary activity’ as the dissemination of religion
and/or faith among members of other religions/faiths, unless such activity
solicits religious conversion, as stated in various sections of the Penal Code,
which bans the solicitation of religious conversion among minors, or among
adults by offering bribes.

“Furthermore, the organization often presents anyone
belonging to the Christian religion, in all its forms, as a ‘missionary,’ even
if he does not work to spread his religion.”

damning in the document was reported testimony gleaned from Jack Teitel. Teitel, accused of planting a bomb on March
20, 2008 that almost killed the teenage son of a Messianic Jewish pastor,
told authorities that he worked with Yad

was asked to talk about his activity in Yad L’Achim and related that for some
five years he was active in the organization, and on average he helped to rescue
about five women each year,” the document read, using the Yad L’Achim term
“rescue” to refer to kidnapping.

The 2008 bombing
severely injured Ami Ortiz, then 15, but after 20 months he had largely

Teitel, who said Ortiz family members were “missionaries trying to
capture weak Jews,” has been indicted on two cases of pre-meditated
murder, three cases of attempted murder, carrying a weapon, manufacturing a
weapon, possession of illegal weapons and incitement to commit

In interviews
with the Israeli media, Yad L’Achim Chairman Rabbi
Shalom Dov Lifshitz said his organization wasn’t connected with the
attacks of the Ortiz family or with Teitel.


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

How to Operate in the Power Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the apostles in Acts 1:8 (NLT), “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” Jesus promises a gift that would give them comfort, power, strength and encouragement. That gift is the Holy Spirit, and that...

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

Messianic Rabbi: Make the Choice to Be an Outsider

One of the wonderful things about reading through the Bible is that the more you read it, the more things you find within its pages. No matter how many times you read a verse or a series of verses, because the Bible is a living document, there will always be more to...

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Kingdom Economics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress unanimously voted to pass a declaration of independence from Britain. Each signatory was facing death by hanging if the bold experiment failed. The Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and that...

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Consider This Unsung Hero of the Bible

Sometimes, I think Martha in the Bible gets a bad rap! I am not saying that Jesus labeled Martha at all. Please hear me out. But I think we would be wise to avoid picking up and holding onto some of the dynamics in this potential sibling rivalry between Martha and...

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

Prophetic Word: We Are Entering the Books of Acts

On the morning of June 5, 2022, I was praying in preparation for the Arise Women’s Summit I was hosting near Knoxville, Tennessee, when the Lord took me into an encounter. I found myself in the library of heaven standing before a giant staircase made of extremely...

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance precedes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:12-28 and Acts...


How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us,...
Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

Pin It on Pinterest