Last week, a lot of folks asked me if it was true that Israel refused to allow two fully Jewish, Messianic Jewish Israelis to get married because of their faith. There was a news report out of the Jerusalem Post that mentioned the two went to our congregation, Tiferet Yeshua.
Is it true?
It is absolutely true that it happened and they were given the opportunity to deny their faith.
“They noted, however, that if the couple were to accept upon themselves the principles of Jewish faith, including the belief in one God and Maimonides’s 13 Principles of Faith, declare in front of the rabbinical court that they have totally left Christianity, end their association with Tiferet Yeshua and their missionary activities and immerse in a mikve ritual bath, their request would be reexamined.” (JPost.com)
Fortunately, they refused. And it is an outrage that two fully Jewish, Israel-born people are denied the right to get married in their own country—one that was birthed to prevent the persecution of Jews, not enhance it.
So, why did I say, “Yes…and no.”? Because we are not the only group persecuted this way. You have to understand the archaic marriage system here in Israel. The chief rabbinical council, known as the rabanut in Hebrew, control all marriages in Israel. So…
If you don’t have a Jewish mother…no wedding for you.
If you marry a foreigner…no wedding for you.
If you are a man and want to marry a man…no wedding for you. (Despite the fact that Israel is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, gay marriage will probably never become legal here because of the rabanut. [I do not support gay marriage, just reporting the fact of how the rabbis, not the government control these issues.])
If you made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from Russia but can’t prove you are Jewish…no wedding for you.
The rabbis will only marry fully Jewish people—and for them, that means your mother is Jewish. And now, if you believe like tens of thousands of first-century Jews believed (Acts 21:20), that Yeshua is the Messiah, you have, according to the rababut, left Judaism and … no wedding for you.
However, having lived here for 14 years, I have been to many weddings, all done by Orthodox rabbis where the folks getting married were clearly Messianic. It wasn’t an issue. But I guess, this time, it became an issue and the Chief Rabbinical council ruled, with great difficulty according to the Jerusalem Post article, against the Messianic Jewish couple.