Items filtered by date: July 2014

The Jerusalem District Court has ordered Moshav Yad Hashmonah, a community of Messianic Jews and Evangelical Christians, to pay compensation to two lesbians after it refused to host a same-sex wedding reception. "We knew we were breaking the law. Somebody needed to do it." says Ayelet Ronen, general secretary for the village.

Judge Moshe Yoad Cohen upheld a lower court ruling that the Moshav violated a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
During the trial, representatives of the Moshav quoted from both Old and New Testaments. "We do not hate homosexuals or lesbians. We love them. We simply told the court that it is God's word in the Bible that calls homosexuality an abomination," Ronen told said.
She continues: "As a faith-based community we need to be able to refuse events that blatantly oppose our religious beliefs. We explained to the judge that a same-sex celebration would ruin our business. The majority of our clientele are Christians who vigorously oppose gay marriage."
The lesbians' lawyer accused members of Yad Hashmonah of "homophobia," pointing to an announcement published by the Moshav that "no homosexual or lesbian organization will be allowed to rent space for functions on our premises."
That announcement came in response to a flood of requests for same-sex celebrations on the Moshav from gays and lesbians hoping to pass more court decisions requiring the Messianic community to pay out huge compensations.
As a result, the Moshav was forced to shutter their events-hosting business, resulting in huge financial losses. "We used to host an average of 35-50 weddings a year over the past 12 years. Israelis from all over the country, religious and secular, loved to come here. Now there are none," says Ronen.
Judge Cohen held that the Moshav cannot refuse to host a same-sex wedding reception even if doing so goes against their own conscious. The Moshav's lawyer, Michael Decker, challenged that ruling, asking the judge, "What if a Catholic went to an Orthodox Jewish carpentry in [the ultra-Orthodox town of] Bnei Barack and asked them to build a statue of Mary? Would they have to build the idolatrous image?"
The judge replied: "They would have to make it or else be fined. That is the law."
Ronen says that the ruling demonstrates that "even the judge understood that current laws are not providing sufficient protections for religious communities."
According to Ronen, "a lot of religious Jews and rabbis have secretly told us 'good for you. We are glad that you take this stand.' But they will not stand with [Messianic Jews] to change the law. They hate us too much and would never work with us."
In his ruling, the judge upheld the earlier verdict of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, ordering Yad Hashmonah to pay the two lesbians damages of 60,000 shekels ($17,000) plus another 30,000 shekels for attorneys' fees for both the original suit and the appeal. "At this time we are not planning another appeal. To lose again would not sound good," says Ronen.


Published in Abba Lazarus' Blog
This has been hard week for Israel. With barely time to mourn the loss of our 3 murdered teenagers, war drums are pounding again – both within and beyond our tiny borders.
Where do we look for the strength to carry on? How should we pray for Jerusalem in this terrible hour? One of Judaism’s oldest prayers, recited more than any other blessing, gives us guidance to face the unique challenges of these difficult times.

The Aaronic Blessing is packed with beauty and meaning for such a time as this.

The first section - Y’Varech’cha Hashem V’Yishm’recha – “May the Lord bless you and Keep you” asks G-d to prosper us with material and physical well-being. We are commanded to remember that He is our ultimate protection, and not only our own efforts. May we turn our faces to the Lord in this hour to the “Keeper of Israel, the Shield of Abraham.”

Let not allow the stones thrown become a stumbling block, but become a highway of holiness.

The second section – Ya’er Hashem Panav Elecha Vi'y'chuneka – “The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you” asks the Almighty to grant us wisdom ("Ya'er" is related to the word “Or” – light, a metaphor for wisdom). We cannot live by “gut reactions.” When in trouble, it is time to fall on our faces G-d and allow His face to shine on us. It is in the midst of uncertainly and danger that we must pray, “Your will be done, and not mine…”

This is also plea that we should find favor (gracious in the Hebrew) with G-d so that others should be built up with our teachings. His wisdom does not make us so arrogant that people resent us. This is especially true when we are angry and hurt and want to lash out at others, and our nation is seething right now. Let us ask the Lord to be gracious to Israel so that we might find favor with Him especially as we face of such turmoil.

The third section - Yisa Hashem Panav Elecha V’Yasem L’Cha Shalom – “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” is calling us to look at our Lord right in the eye. When a person does not conduct himself properly and knows that he is wrong, even in the face of danger, he cannot face his Lord, nor can he face others with integrity. But when we do the right thing, we can lift up our heads in the sight of G-d, and this, in turn, evokes a similar response from the Lord.

When our gaze meets our Maker, we are at Peace, and there is no greater strength than to walk in the light and be in fellowship with the will of G-d.

These are the blessings we should have in mind when we pray for Israel. Security, wisdom, humility, favor with G-d grace and the peace that comes from knowing that we are doing the right thing. When we live like this “in the image of G-d,” we will bring Shalom not only to ourselves, but to the entire world.

Published in Abba Lazarus' Blog

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