by Joseph W
Earlier this week, Israeli news service Kikar HaShabat reported on a “prayer rally” organised by Yad L’Achim in Ashdod.
The prayer rally took place outside another building, where other people were praying. Yad L’Achim were protesting Messianic meetings led by Israel Pochtar at the Beth Hallel congregation. Pochtar felt pressured enough to cancel the activities of the Messianic centre on Monday night.
Yad L’Achim claim that thousands attended (probably hundreds in reality), and now promise they will protest every Monday night from now on. Specifically, they are opposed to the fact that “pure Jews” are worshipping Jesus in Israel, and think that it is a tragedy that these Jews have been “Christianised”.
They were joined by representatives of the Gur, Belzer and Vishnitzer Hasidic dynasties, Rabbi Lipschitz himself, and also the Chief Rabbi of Ashdod, Yosef Sheinin.
Sheinin has a record of discrimination against Messianic Jews. Sheinin has led a boycott against Messianic Jewish baker Penina Conforti, and refused to grant her a kosher licence, despite the Israeli high court ruling that he should.
Sheinin has also signed a letter forbidding Jews from renting or selling property to Arabs.
Sheinin told the crowd on Monday night:
“Haman, that descendant of the Agagites, wanted to destroy killed and annihilated the people of Israel. The Agagites still want to destroy us like they did back then, yet without those weapons of destruction. Instead they come with a different tool to destroy the souls of Israel, seeking our annihilation. Woe to us, because of this plague in our city Ashdod! We are contaminated with impurity. We must cleanse our town and our country of this filth.”
Rabbi Lipschitz warned:
“Who does not lose heart, when you see these shocking statistics [of Jews converting to Christianity]? Let us not remain indifferent. In the days of Haman, our forefathers gave their lives to oppose those who rebel against God. And so, it is our duty to cry out and prevent this terrible genocide.”
The Gur rabbi of Ashdod said:
“How can we sit peacefully when in our city there are large centers of avodah zarah? We have here spiritual terrorists who are every day throwing hundreds of missiles on the city and trying to injure and kill as many Jews as possible. From here we issue the cry: Leave our city!”
The event’s moderator R. Govner complained:
“A small community that two years ago only had ten people, has grown thanks to its unlimited financial means. Today it includes 150 Jews! 150 pure Jews, children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, some still wearing kippot, yet converted!
If you watch the video, you will get a feel for the atmosphere of the prayer rally. It must have been very unpleasant for the Beth Hallel congregation.
Over the years, Beth Hallel have had reason to feel intimidated. In 2009, a 16-year old member of Pochtar’s fellowship was arrested and then released for sending a Facebook invite to his friend, which advertised a religious event at Beth Hallel.
Now Beth Hallel will face weekly protests, which will put a huge strain on a small, peaceful, law-abiding community.
It is fair enough that Hasidic Rebbes and other haredi rabbis see themselves as having a kind of responsibility for what other Jews believe. After all, it is their job to protect and guard their religious truths, and to guide Jews spiritually.
That doesn’t mean that these clerics should speak at Yad L’Achim events, compare women bakers to the cosmic enemies of the Jewish people, accuse upstanding citizens of genocide, or talk about “cleansing the land” of Ashdod’s Jesus-followers.