Messianic congregation wins decisive legal victory against anti-missionary organization

Monday, June 29, 2020

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - After suffering many years of sustained harassment by anti-missionary group Yad l’Achim, the Beit Hallel Messianic congregation in Ashdod has just won a lawsuit against the organization, Kehila News Israel (KNI) reports. In a resounding victory for believers in Israel, a local court issued a restraining order against Yad l’Achim activists that prevents them, among other things, from coming within 100 meters of Beit Hallel property and congregants’ private homes.

An organization made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews, Yad l’Achim members believe Messianic Jews are “the forces of impurity.” They contend Jewish believers in Jesus Christ are not Jews at all, but Christians trying to steal Jewish souls. Highly organized, Yad l’Achim consistently targets Messianic congregations across Israel using tactics of harassment and vandalism in efforts to drive believers out of cities and close down their businesses and assemblies.

KNI reports that the Ashdod congregation of 350 attendees has been dealing with systematic harassment from Yad l’Achim since 2011. “Legal pressure caused the anti-missionaries to back down for a few years, but in 2018 a group of Haredi Jews defaced and vandalized the congregation and, since then, have ramped up the harassment,” KNI reported. A favorite tactic is to stand outside congregational halls to harass and intimidate those attending services.

Among other things said against believers, Yad l’Achim accused Beit Hallel of “manipulating people in weak conditions” through their humanitarian aid to Holocaust survivors, single mothers, immigrants, and other poor and needy. “They are really on our tail all the time,” the congregation’s lawyer Ludmila Zakharchuk Zakharchuk told KNI. “We open a building to store food parcels that we want to give out, they complain to the municipality that we are having illegal gatherings there. We get a closure order that we need to appeal to prove them wrong. Our legal battle against the municipality is still ongoing.”

Explaining the decision to take legal action, Zakharchuk said: “They harassed us for so long. We filed dozens of complaints with the police and nothing happened so eventually we went to court.” In addition to keeping activists at a 100-meter distance, the restraining order prevents them from “using loud music and dances that block entry into the congregation. They may not gather in groups larger than allowed by law and they must obtain permits for every protest. They are also forbidden to film or photograph the congregation and their people, set up signs and posters or hand out leaflets. The owner of the property opposite the congregation may not share the footage from his surveillance cameras with anyone except the police and the court,” KNI reported.