Court Victory in Israel/Messianic Jews Can Now Make Aliyah!
On April 16, the Israeli
Supreme Court heard the case of several Messianic Jewish believers who had been denied citizenship by the Ministry of the
Interior, including Amy Cowen, daughter of UMJC President Jamie Cowen. Just before the case was heard, Amy wrote,
I do not believe that it is merely coincidental that this case will take place the week leading up to Pesach, a holiday
that so clearly embodies themes of salvation, deliverance, freedom, purification, and the blood of the Lamb. As God delivered
our people from the bonds of slavery in Egypt, God can certainly deliver once again and grant us our inheritance in this Land.
Here is a summary of the case from the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, one of the Messianic Jewish efforts in Israel:
In a landmark decision today, the Supreme Court of Israel ratified a settlement between twelve Messianic Jewish believers
and the State of Israel, which states that being a Messianic Jew does not prevent one from receiving citizenship in Israel
under the Law of Return or the Law of Citizenship, if one is a descendent of Jews on one's father's side (and thus
not Jewish according to halacha).
This Supreme Court decision brought an end to a legal battle
that has carried on for two and a half years.
All twelve of the applicants were denied citizenship
solely based on grounds that they belong to the Messianic Jewish community. Most of them received letters stating that they
would not receive citizenship because they "commit missionary activity." One of the applicants was told by a clerk
at the Ministry of Interior that because she "committed missionary activity," she is "acting against the interests
of the State of Israel and against the Jewish people." These allegations are not only untrue, but they also do not constitute
legal grounds to deny one's right to immigrate to Israel.
This important victory paves the
way for persons who have Jewish ancestry on their father's side to immigrate to Israel freely, whether or not they belong
to the Messianic Jewish community. This is yet another battle won in our war to establish equality in Israel for the Messianic
Jewish community just like every other legitimate stream of faith within the Jewish world.
Allowed in Israel: Official Wording of the Ruling
According to Jamie Cowen, president of the
Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), who is an attorney and whose daughter was a defendant in this case, this ruling
of the Israeli Supreme Court is precedent setting for future cases. When the ruling says "as long as the person is not
Jewish," this means that they never were religious Jews prior to applying for citizenship (I don't think, but I could
be wrong, that this excludes those with a Jewish mother from applying). Thus, many Messianic Jews still could not become citizens
of Israel, but many could. The reason for this exclusion of religious Jews who later became Messianic Jews is a very early
court precedent that Jews who have changed religion may not become citizens.
Note, however, that
Jews who practice Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, and many other "different religions" are not excluded. The law of
return has not been evenly applied, but has been used primarily to discriminate against Jews who believe in Jesus (Jesus the
Jew at that!!).
Following is the official wording of the ruling:
High Court of Justice Jerusalem
SUPREME COURT RULING
Case No. 2708/06
Honorary Justice A. Rubeinstien, Honorary Justice S. Jubraan, Honorary Justice Y. Dentziger
1. Sean Steckbeck, 2. Ayelet Steckbeck 3. Daniel Silverman 4. Melanie Silverman 5. Yehoshua Silverman 6. Amalia Silverman
7. Aliana Silverman 8. Gusia Silverman 9. Matty Nadler 10. Amy Cowen
1. Ministry of Interior 2. Registrar of Population
Date of court hearing: 16.04.08
The parties have submitted to us the following notification:
"In their notification dated 13.04.08 the Respondents declared, that the fact that a person is a "Messianic
Jew" has no bearing on an application according to Sec. 7 of the Law of Citizenship, as well as an application according
to Sec. 4(A)(a) of the Law of Return (as long as the person applying according the abovementioned section of the Law of Return
is not considered to be Jewish, as described in section 4B of the Law of Return).
declare that in accordance with their notification they will process the applications of all Petitioners as soon as possible,
as well as the application of Alvetina Zibareva, and Valentina Zibareva who requested to join the petition on 01.04.08 to
the extent that their request is similar.
Due to these circumstances the representatives of the
Petitioners requested to remove the petition without a ruling regarding court costs.
is removed by consent as aforesaid.
Dated (16.04.0 8)
ruling opens the doors of citizenship in the present State of Israel to many of those of Judah who have recognized Yeshua
as Israel’s Messiah. Using this ruling as a basis, the Messianic Jewish will petition for additional rulings that will
open the door even wider for Messianic Believers. We of Ephraim should follow in their footsteps and take the actions necessary
to petition and make the case for future rulings that will serve as door openers for returning Ephraimites. Orthodox Rabbis
have always recognized that the Northern tribes were scattered among the nations. Their problem has not been with identity,
as much as it has been that these lost sheep recognizing Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah. However, this ruling could go a
long way towards removing that barrier.
One of our challenges is to take advantage of this opportunity
by taking the necessary steps and legal action to expand this ruling to include all Israel. We also need to be prepared to
pursue other opportunities to join our brother Judah in possessing the Promised Land. Opportunities which may very well be
as surprising as this one. The following articles outline ways in which we can successfully meet these challenges:
• Possessing the Land
• Are Numbers Really Important?
• The Stimulus Campaign