Believers attending a Messianic concert last week in Jerusalem were accosted by dozens of Orthodox Jewish protestors, who held a violent and chaotic riot for hours, calling the people “missionaries” and “Nazis,” and telling them to get out of Israel. They held up several signs saying, “Beware, Missionaries!” in Hebrew. In Hebrew the world Missionary is a slur. Of course, we are not missionaries, but citizens of Israel.
Jenya Lempert and his teenage daughter were accosted by swarms of young men blowing whistles at excruciating pitches and linking arms to block the entrance into the concert hall.
“It was a pure act of hatred,” Lempert told KNI news. “They hate us, they were standing against us, they brought their minors as human shields.” Orthodox protesters have been known to bring teens, who have more liberties than adults to break the law. It is important to not get angry but pray. At the same time, understand that this is pure fanaticism and brainwashing of children. However, it only represents a tiny minority of Israelis.
The concert took place at the Pavilion, a center that houses the King of Kings congregation and other organizations. Sponsored by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Israel and produced by Yuval Arts, the concert is a bi-annual event featuring new Messianic worship music that could be used in congregations around Israel.
Some 60 to 100 protestors – most under 18 years old – spent hours in the building blowing whistles and, allegedly, at some point spraying people with pepper spray. They took orders from the few adults that led the protest. The concert itself was not meant to be evangelistic, so it is unclear why the protestors targeted the event and called the people “missionaries.” Lehava is a far-right organization based in Israel that opposes a Christian presence in the country (including Messianic Jews) and the assimilation of Jews into other faiths.
Shelly Greenberg, who attended the concert, said she’s seen protests in her years of event planning, but this one was more violent than usual. She said she arrived and found the kids who were there to attend the concert scared and in tears. This isn’t the first time Lehava has protested gatherings at the Pavilion. The venue is located in the center of the Clal building, an open atrium multi-level mall with shops and offices. Two years ago, Lehava protestors disrupted a performance by an Armenian church choir in the same building. On another occasion two years ago, they sent angry, violent teens to disrupt an international conference. Security forces were called in to remove them—even as they screamed at the police.
Jael Kalisher, production manager of the event, told KNI news that the riots actually had a positive impact on the concert.
“They caused such unity among those who came, and something I kept on hearing afterwards is that people felt like a family,” she said. “I’m deeply thankful to God for the fact that the reaction from the audience was patience, love, prayer, and understanding. Yes, some were shocked, scared even, but as a whole, people gathered towards one another in unity, oneness, and worship.”
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3:12)
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.” (Matt. 10:16-27)