by Corine Gatti
of the Beliefnet staff
Why would a Jewish believer in Yeshua — Hebrew for Jesus — uproot themselves to move to the Middle East? That could be easily answered: a passion for the Holy Land and belief that Israel is the place of the Messiah’s return.
There is another question: would these believers be embraced by the Jewish community?
“This is a very complicated question,” said Paul Sherbow of Come to Zion Ministries Israel. His ministry feeds the poor, pays bills for the elderly, and operates an internet radio station running 24/7 with music and teachings in Kiryat Yam north of Haifa.
“There is a bias against Messianic believers here because of history. The Christians have been preaching to the Jews for 1,900 years you can leave Torah behind and just believe in Jesus. Many, many Jews have been forced to convert or be killed over this time. The religious Jews see Messianic as people trying to derail Jews from Torah which is the Word of God. Even the State of Israel in a supreme court case said that a Jew who believes in Jesus is no longer a Jew in the eyes of the state and not entitled to immigrate to Israel under the law of return because that person has gone over to our “historical” enemy.”
David Ortiz originally from Brooklyn, New York, a dental technician by trade, is the pastor of a congregation of 25 inside the Jewish settlement of Ariel, north of Jerusalem—he and his family are considered an enemy of the Jews, by extremist. Fliers of Ortiz said he was “Baptizing Jews into Christianity,” which were wallpapered on bus depots, cars, and shopping centers in the area with images of the pastor and his address. Ortiz has been physically attacked at least on one occasion by Palestinians from a neighboring village handing out Bibles, The Jerusalem Post reported on March, 25, 2008. He also had Molotov cocktail thrown at his car.