The contrast between the two videos is stark. The first is terribly disturbing. The second is tremendously inspiring. The first shows security camera footage of some young thugs vandalizing a building and assaulting a female worker. The second, which is an interview I conducted, shows the female worker and her father expressing their love and concern for the thugs. That is the power of Messiah’s grace in Jerusalem. And that is the opposition faced by Messianic Jews living there.
The community that was attacked is called Adullam. It focuses on compassionate, humanitarian outreach to hurting Israelis, including ultra-Orthodox Jews and those who have left that community. It also serves at-risk Israelis from other backgrounds.
But because of its effective outreach to religious Jews, it has come under intense fire, with a well-known radical inciting some young people to go on the attack.
As reported in Kehila News, “Members of Lehava, a violent anti-assimilation organization led by Ben-Zion Gopstein – a former disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahana – have been attacking a safe house for at-risk youth which is operated by a Messianic family.”
Michael, who manages the safe house, tells the story.
“When they came, during opening hours, we asked them to leave and said that we have three little children here. They didn’t care. They left and came back throwing bricks and stones at us. One flew right by one of our heads.”
But that was not the end. The thugs returned again, ultimately knocking out the windows with bricks and rocks as well as carrying out at least one physical assault.
Thankfully, with security cameras just installed, the last attack was captured on video. As for how the police will respond, that remains to be seen.
Does all this confirm the worst suspicions of the antisemites? Does it prove how evil “the rabbis” are? Does this point to the fundamentally corrupt nature of “the Jews”?
There are bad apples in every religion, including Judaism.
There are corrupt leaders in every religion, including Judaism.
And there are thugs in every nation, including Israel.
The vast majority of rabbis would not support a violent attack on a Messianic Jewish center, let alone one with women and children inside.
And the vast majority of Israelis, most of whom are not religious, would be appalled at such an attack.
That being said, there is a price to pay for being a Messianic Jew in Israel, especially when reaching the ultra-Orthodox. And we certainly can expect more attacks like this, especially as the Adullam movement spreads to other locations throughout the Land. (For the origin of the term Adullam and its significance, see 1 Samuel 22:1).
It’s important, however, to reiterate that the movement provides humanitarian and compassionate help for Israelis from all backgrounds. And some of the team members have worked for years in Muslim communities in Israel.
But the moment religious Jews are impacted, there will be an outcry, and some extremists will resort to thuggery.
Ironically, many of those drawn to Adullam are those who are called “off the derech,” meaning, “off the path.”
This refers to ultra-Orthodox Jews who have already left their community, but because of their strict, sheltered upbringing, they are often like lost sheep in the society.
As Michael explains, “Former Orthodox Jews, especially if they are from an ultra-Orthodox background, need a place that will accept them as they are and help them transition into the outside world. Our home provides workshops in music, English lessons, and more. Sometimes people with black ultra-Orthodox clothes will arrive just to speak out. They don’t believe in God anymore, but they have to study in the yeshiva and live within the Orthodox community and pretend. Otherwise they will lose their wives and children.”
Yet when Adullam seeks to help these people, which includes sharing the Good News of Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah with those want to hear, they become targets of religious extremists.
Thankfully, the Adullam team is not backing down an inch (watch the video to hear father and daughter speak from their hearts). And, thankfully, in the days since the attacks, religious Jews, secular Jews, and formerly religious Jews have stood together with the team.
As Michael noted, “It is important to emphasize that Lehava is an extremist Jewish organization, which is widely condemned, also by many religious Jews. A lot of the young ex-religious people who we help are boldly standing on our side against their former peers. It’s amazing to see. Others left once the trouble started.”
In the days ahead, I fully expect more and more Israelis, including religious Jews, to discover the identity of the real Messiah and to receive forgiveness of sins through Him. And I fully expect that there will be many challenges for them as they grow in their faith, especially if they come from a very religious background.
Please consider helping them financially, as it will be necessary both to expand and protect their work. (Click here to donate.)
And please pray for the Jewish community worldwide and for the Israeli Jewish community in particular.
Pray that they will receive mercy and grace from the hand of the Lord.
And pray that those persecuting the believers in the Land will have a life-changing encounter with Yeshua the Messiah. Remember what happened to Saul of Tarsus!
It is high time for the Lord to favor Zion with His grace.
(Full disclosure: I work together with the Adullam team and its covering organization, Shepherd of Israel. But I receive no compensation of any kind, financial or otherwise, for my work. It is strictly gratis and volunteer.)
Important update: The anti-missionary group Yad L’Achim is now spreading the lie that South Korean tourists carried the coronavirus into Israel and infected Jewish youth at the Messianic center. Seriously! And this lie is now spreading through the news. Your help is needed!