Israel’s Messianic Jews Under Attack – The Cost Of Discipleship

Posted on June 17, 2008


This article was posted in Time recently about a bomb that was sent to a Messianic Family on Purim. My friend sent me the news videos that made its way to YouTube. Part One here. Part Two here. The text is difficult to read, so I have transcribed it below.

For those who need a bit more background or information on what Messianic Judaism is, a quick Google search would yield sufficient information. I would also suggest Wikipedia, Hebrew 4 Christians,, and a prominent congregation called Kehilat Ariel in San Diego.

Given the solemnity of the events that have transpired with the Ortiz family, I offer a few devotional sentiments, and a commentary on the cost of discipleship.

O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of the Daughter of Zion and there rejoice in your salvation. – Psalm 9:13 10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10-11

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ [b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Those who hate me hate my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ [c] – John 15:18-25


As events such as these plague our brothers and sisters, I am struck at the distinction between these kinds of believers, and the kind of discipleship and faith that is found amongst the vast majority of (or at least the popularly known) American Christians. This may be perhaps why some of Jesus’ words don’t speak to us, in America, in the same depth and power than they do in other parts of the world. This may be why, perhaps, we make up imaginative interpretations regarding the difficult and challenging words of Jesus about the most difficult and challenging issues of life; namely enemies, hate, forgiveness, grace, compassion, etc.

There is great security in being respectively blind to potential acts of violence against oneself or one’s family for matters of faith. Our constitution and our culture protects us from these kinds of acts of aggression. But that safety can also produce a sense of complacency regarding cost. Our battles are generally ideological, not concrete, tangible, costly battles. And if that continues to be the norm, we may be fooled into believing that this is really the only cost to discipleship.

Now, I do not want to diminish the importance of theological and ideological discussions. Worldviews are powerfully influential in the tangible and concrete world of justice and wars. And, I would be remise if I did not acknowledge that acts like the one reported here is not deeply connected to ideology. But for the rest of us, if we are truly going to think globally about our theologies — a worldview that includes faith being a universal explanation — then we also ought to be aware and fully engaged with the consequences of this kind of faith on a universal scale. Our hearts ought to be reminded frequently of how the “body of Christ” (as we say) is not limited to the one body part called “America.” And we ought to especially be reminded that there is a cost to our faith, in spite of our comfort, and we are often the ones getting a bargain deal. In some ways, there exists a sort of “faith-classism,” that is not separated by social rank, but by culture and geography.

As a believer, as a person of faith, and as a global citizen, I hope that this story prods us on towards closing the segregation of the “classes of faith,” by raising the costs of our discipleship wherever we are.

[b] John 13:16
[c] Psalms 35:19; 69:4


Israel is a democratic state that generally upholds the rule of law, and has excellent police and intelligence agencies. We hope that they will uphold the law in this case which you are about to see; to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for this heinous crime. We all know that unchecked abuse of minority religions in the Middle East is a slippery slope. What you are about to see is a news documentary program which was which was produced by Amir Gera, and shown on the Channel 1 prime time news program “Yoman Shishi’ on May 30th, 2008.

Here is another example of people who the (Israeli) authorities are ignoring. We are going to show you people who are citizens, serve in the army, and who see themselves as Israeli as anyone else. They believe in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. That is probably what leads to threats, persecutions, and violence.

The culmination of it is the sending of a bomb in a (Purim) package that exploded in the hands of a teenager in Ariel. He is the son of Messianic Jews.

The police are withholding information bout what happened and how the investigation is proceeding. Channel One, funded by the government, asked the court to reveal the investigation details. Twice, it overcame the police requests to the Jerusalem courts to stop the broadcasting of this video. This is how we can reveal the first details about the attempted murder tonight. This is Amir Gera reporting.

[A’s Father, Ariel Congregation]

I was in darkness. I said, “God we are in your hands. Give me a miracle. Give me a miracle. Thank God, in the morning, we spoke to the doctors. They said, ‘your son is a miracle this morning.’ now we see there is hope for his body, his eyes, and everything. The doctor said, ‘He is born again. He is born again.’

[singing] “I am persuaded, I am persuaded, tha tneither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities…(Romans 8:38-39)

The whole week he was between life and death. Laying in the hospital unconscience [sic]. Having pain and burned, full of metal fragments, that an evil hand had put in him.

[A’s Mother & Father] I am in pain all the time to see my once perfectly strong son, with these wounds, and for nothing. He was in danger but thank God. We received a miracle from God. He has more than 100 pieces of metal still left in his body. You can see safety pins inside him! His throat was lacerated from here to there! Also pieces of glass from the 12 windows that were blown out. this was all open wounds, and he received skin grafts. two on his (left) leg and his stomach too. Yes, this is after the grafts, and now he looks so excellent! Excellent!

[A] Someone sent to our home a Purim gift. With a bomb inside of it. When I opened it, it exploded.

It was such an innocent looking package. It was sent to the family in Ariel, last Purim. It was a Purim package any child would be happy to get. A, 15 years old, opened the package and his life was changed in a moment.

[A] It was not meant for my parents. My parents would not have opened a Purim package. If they wanted to hurt my parents, they would have hurt them directly. It was directed towards me.

At 2:30pm, a huge explosion ripped through the building. The neighbors ran to the source of the blast; this apartment on the third floor. They found the boy wounded and bleeding. From the polic report, we found out that his family belonged to a Messianic cult. But it is still unclear, that this information has any connection with the explosion.

[Mother] Flyers were distributed throughout the whole city of Ariel with pictures of Messianic Jews. As if we are masquerading as Jews. As if we are “dangerous” people to be avoided. it seems that through these flyers they recognized us

[narrator] Like someone marked you?

[M] Yes.

About 10,000 Messianic Jews live in Israel. Spread out in different cities. Meeting in small closed congregations. they are just like every other Israeli, except for their beliefs. They believe in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Yeshua the Messiah. They are so peaceful, that you cannot see any difference form normal citizens.

[interviewer] A month and a half ago, these people were sent a package with a bomb in it. To a 15 year old boy. Messianic Jews.

[interviewees] It looks like a political issue, and I do not want to discuss it. The truth is, we are so busy working. Exactly… That we did not even have time to hear about it.

[interviewer] I can’t believe it! You live here and you don’t know about what happened so close to you?!

[interviewees] [shaking their head’s “no”]

Also at the flower shop they did not know what had happened.

[dialogue] Here, his parents have arrived. I just came now to reconnect the gas. Great! Thank you.

A’s father immigrated 20 years ago from New York, and became the leader of a congregation in Ariel. There are 30 believers in this quiet congregation. He’s a digital technician who one day found himself and his family in the eye of a storm.

[witness] We came upstairs and we saw the guy laying on the floor. His body was ripped apart. First thing I did was to treat [sic] him and talk to him.

Five and a half years ago…please tell them the story.

[witness] The terrorists entered my house and killed my wife and three of my children. And their son was seriously injured and also my daughter. My son lost a leg. I was left with four children. Two of them got married and I have two granddaughters. Today I am a grandfather. This is happiness… When you look ahead and leave everything behind. Though you never forget, when you look ahead, everything looks small in the past. The main thing is that he is alive like my son that lived, and that he was rescued. These are the important things. The moment you see it that way, it gives you strength to give also to your children.

[Father] This was our table. It was solid wood. This package that was here, only a professional could do it. I think it is someone who is an expert in explosives.

[witness] From the shockwave of the explosion, everything flew out through the window. I never saw things like this. This is shocking!!! It is an explosion just like the terrorists! You know what I mean. But for Jews doing this to other Jews? I don’t know!

[narrator] You are an Orthodox Jew. they are called Messianic Jews. Does that mean anything to you?

[witness] No. Maybe there will be friends who say, “How can you speak up for these people?” There is no for or against. Everyone lives his own life. God gives every person choices to choose between good and evil. God gives us the choice. So who are we to force a person to change his beliefs? No.

[narrator to Mother] Are you a Jew?

[Mother] Yes.

[narrator] Why should we have to be afraid of you?

[Mother] I don’t know.

[narrator] Actually, people who don’t like you, accuse you of missionary activities. Right?

[Mother] Yes.

[narrator] Are you a missionary?

[Mother] No. We are Israeli citizens. What is a missionary? I don’t understand that?

[Father] This is our country. This is our place. We want to live here. All of our children were in the army and in special units: the airforce, canine unit, and in a battalion in Shechem. I was also in the reserves in Shechem. We were stoned frequently.

The flyers that were distributed and the scratches on the family vehicle were just the beginning. And the bomb that was sent was not the only bomb as it seems. We’ve been told that in the same day, more bombs were going to be sent to other Messianic families in the town. By a miracle, greater disasters did not happen. After the explosion, the police asked the school principals where the children study to be alert. Because of the danger to their lives. Therefore, it is not just about one package, but this is an underground network of criminals. In order to plan for many bombing attacks.

[dialogue] How are you? — O.K. Thank God.

[family attorney] We asked the police how can it be that so much time has passed from the moment the explosion happened in this apartment, and A was injured so badly. With all the evidence that the police have, how can it be that there is no progress in the investigation? The Israeli police have excellent evidences. They have a good starting point. Much more than a good starting point… They have a way to find and bring in the suspects and to interrogate them and to prosecute them. Why Israeli police don’t do that this is a question with a huge question mark at the end. We don’t know the answer.

The day after the murder attempt, the courts issued a “block” on the details of the investigation. We have been left with questions without answers as to where the investigation stands. Has there been any progress? Have any suspects been found? Have the police tried to cover up their incompetence with the “block”? Are the police going to find the truth?

[family attorney] Does the family need to “apologize” that their son didn’t get killed? And then maybe they would have treated it in the right way?

Ido Atzel: On Wednesday, the Shalom Court in Jerusalem cancelled [sic] the media “block” that was put ont he case from the beginning.

[Father] What am I afraid of? I am afraid that his is not the last time. I am afraid for other Messianic families. That they need to fear that if maybe one day they will receive a package. That someone will put something in their car? Or something will happen again. That’s my fear. And the police and everyone doesn’t take it seriously. What’s going to happen?

[Mother] For me it’s an absurd comment. That I need to run away from here. They need to run away, not me. They are the criminals, we are the victims.

On Lag B’Omer, in Or Yehuda, Ultra Orthodox students, condoned by the deputy mayor, burned hundreds of copies of the New Testament. This action was aimed against the Messianic community living in the city. The government advisor on legal affairs ordered the police to open an investigation against the deputy mayor and those suspected of burning the holy books.

[Mother singing] “Who shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua, our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

[narrator to A] What is your dream now?

[A] To keep on living…to keep on living normally!!!

Where does the investigation stand? Who did it? We still don’t know. The police say, as a response to the accusation, that a special team of investigators are running an intensive investigation. At this point the police do not intend to give details about the investigation.

[closing commentary] If you have been moved to concern after viewing this program, please contact Israel’s Minister of Public Security requesting justice in this case.

Posted in: Culture, Religion