The Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Two messianic Jews, who are Jewish by birth and who believe Jesus is God and the Messiah, and who sought to get married through the Chief Rabbinate in a Jewish ceremony, have been told by a special panel of the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court that their beliefs put them outside of the Jewish faith and therefore they cannot get married in a religious ceremony.
The couple originally applied to marry at the Shoham Rabbinate, demonstrated that they were both Jewish from birth and requested to be registered for marriage, despite believing in Jesus as the Messiah, an idea antithetical to Jewish law and core principles of faith.
Their case was referred to the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court to make a determination on the question in Jewish law of whether the couple’s beliefs prevent them from marrying as Jews, despite their Jewish status and heritage.
The complexity of the case required the involvement of the deputy president of the court together with two senior rabbinical judges, who themselves brought in a researcher and expert in Christianity and missionary groups, as well as questioning the couple themselves.
The couple told the rabbinical judges that they “believe that Jesus is God,” that they believe in the New Testament, that they were baptized in the name of the “Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” and that they believe in the “Holy Trinity.”
They also stated that they saw their path as a mission to disseminate the Gospel, that they hope that the entire Jewish people will accept their faith, and that they belong to the Tiferet Yeshua messianic community in Tel Aviv.
In ruling on the case, the rabbinical judges cited several Talmudic sources and commentaries relating to Jews who convert, and determined that the couple were apostates from Judaism. Therefore, the judges refused to allow them to marry religiously through the Chief Rabbinate.
“Regretfully, this cult of Jews who believe in Jesus, including the petitioners in this case, are without doubt Jews who have gone over to another religion, converted from their religion to another faith, and even were baptized for this new faith,” wrote the rabbinical judges.
The judges also pointed out that the High Court of Justice ruled in 1992 that a messianic Jewish couple living in the US were ineligible to gain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, since their faith meant they had converted to a new religion, noting that Jews who believe in Jesus belong to Christianity, not to Judaism.
They noted, however, that if the couple were to accept upon themselves the principles of Jewish faith, including the belief in one God and Maimonides’s 13 Principles of Faith, declare in front of the rabbinical court that they have totally left Christianity, end their association with Tiferet Yeshua and their missionary activities and immerse in a mikve ritual bath, their request would be reexamined.