Wife of Israeli citizen denied citizenship due to faith in Jesus
According to Israeli law, a foreign spouse of an Israeli citizen will automatically be granted citizenship if their partner is Israeli (Israeli Nationality Law of 1952.)
That is, at least in theory, regardless of their religious views:
“Israel will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitant irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture” (The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel \ 14.5.1948)
However, because the Ministry of Interior is under the control of Orthodox religious Jews who have great disdain for followers of Jesus, these rights are regularly withheld. This leaves Jewish believers in Jesus in a predicament where they must spend tens of thousands on lawsuits to take the matter to the court system, simply to receive what was rightfully theirs in the first place.
Andreas Stutz, an Israeli citizen who received an honorable accomplishment award from the President of Israel himself while serving in the Israeli Air Force (IDF), is one of our own college professors and is a Jewish Israeli believer in Jesus. Andreas married his Polish sweetheart and together they have two children (who are also Israeli citizens).
Almost two years ago, the Stutz family began the process of acquiring citizenship for his wife – as a wife and mother of Israeli citizens. The process which should have been quick and immediate became a long drawn out series of investigations. It certainly seems like this case was receiving unusual, more stringent process than others, and no doubt this is because of the fact that the Stutz family are believes in Jesus. This caused great distress and caused them to consider leaving Israel.
Since the beginning of the process, Andy’s wife started suffering from severe health problems that required urgent treatment. However, without citizenship, she cannot receive treatment in the Israeli healthcare system.
Last week, the Ministry of Interior invited the Stutz family to come and finally receive the Israeli identification documentation for his wife. Excited, the Stutz family went to the Ministry of Interior, only to find out that once again, their request had been rejected, and no reason was given.
”ONCE, AFTER MUCH INVESTIGATION AT THE NETANYA OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, THE CHIEF OFFICER, A RELIGIOUS WOMAN, ADMITTED TO ME DIRECTLY THAT THE ONLY REASON WE WERE BEING HARASSED AND DENIED CITIZENSHIP, IS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN JESUS.”
Humiliated and exhausted from fighting, the Stutz family have no other choice but to uproot their kids from their lives and to leave Israel and go back to Poland – the country where Jews had to escape for their lives from only some years ago.
Please pray for them and SHARE this post until it will reach high places among governments and people of influence!
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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The Israeli Ministry of Interior – playing with matters of life and death
Since she found out her Jewish identity, Sara (not her real name) had a dream to immigrate to Israel. Sara was adopted at age 6, never knowing that her birth father was Jewish. It wasn’t until age 12, when she came across a photo of Anne Frank, that she couldn’t help but notice how similar she looked to her.
Only a few years later, when asked to do a family roots project at school, did Sara come across the fact that Jewish blood ran through her veins. That revelation led to her desire to return to her ancestral homeland. She asked a court to unseal her family records in order to prove her ethnicity and was miraculously granted an order to have her documents released to her for the sole purpose of obtaining citizenship in Israel – a rare decision by the American courts to corroborate her birthright.
Sara began to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a kind Ukrainian woman offered to help Sara, suggesting that she and her family leave the U.S. and try to immigrate from the Ukraine. However, even after obtaining this woman’s help, upon arriving in Israel, Sara was told by the Ministry of Interior that her documents were inadequate to grant her citizenship.
Although she says she has given them everything workers there have demanded, the Ministry of Interior continues to derail her and not advance her situation. After receiving a deportation notice, Sara realized she had no choice but to hire an attorney to help her get what was rightfully hers – full citizenship as a Jew in the country which promises the Right of Return to all natural born Jews.
It has now been three years, and the battle is still pending even with the assistance of a law firm dedicated to fighting these discrimination cases on behalf of Jews who are not followers of today’s rabbinic Judaism.
Sadly for Sara, this injustice of living in a country with no status has had repercussions. Her husband is unable to work legally and there were times when they barely had enough food to feed their family.
Even worse is the medical condition of Sara’s 12-year-old child who suffers from serious asthma attacks. One such attack last year landed him in the emergency room unable to exhale. His lungs swelled and the life-threatening position caused the hospital staff to seriously consider putting him on life support. Although he survived that particular attack, another one could be fatal.
Sara and her husband also cannot legally drive in Israel since driving without an Israeli license after one year is not permitted. Obtaining an Israeli license is not possible without a clear status, which they lack. This means that they rely on kind neighbors who, in the event of another life-threatening attack, will drive their son to the emergency room, if they are even available to do so.
At one point, Sara asked permission from the Ministry of Interior to return to the U.S. to obtain crucial medicine for her child but was denied this request. Now the temporary health insurance they had in Israel has chosen not to renew their policies without giving any reason for that decision. Although they might be able to secure another company, the $350 needed per month to pay for health insurance is expensive especially considering they are not able to work.
Even to insure their one child will cost $75 per month. This while they are still paying off their present hospital bill of $25,000. Sara pleaded with the judge who is overseeing their case highlighting the need for her child to receive a thorough examination and medicine, but the judge continues to side with the Ministry of Interior and has granted them 10 extensions for what were clearly bogus reasons designed to stall.
Sara desperately wants to remain in Israel with her family as full citizens, but the Ministry of Interior is playing an all too familiar game designed to wear them down both financially, emotionally and now physically. They have been doing this with other Jews who they deem to no longer be Jews by virtue of the fact that their faith does not line up with the only expression of what is considered to be the Jewish religion acceptable in Israel: Orthodox rabbinic Judaism. Even Conservative and Reform Jews cannot be married by their own rabbis in the State of Israel as they are not accepted as observant enough to qualify as legitimate alternative streams of Judaism.
In short, the system has been hijacked by a handful of extreme zealots who have a vested interest in weeding out all those they consider to be undesirable. This was the very thing done to their own people throughout centuries of host countries rejecting and persecuting God’s chosen. It is unthinkable that history would repeat itself in this way by those who suffered now perpetrating this horrible injustice upon the weakest among them, at the mercy of those who have arbitrarily decided that rabbinic faith trumps Jewish blood.
The Ministry of Interior is playing a dangerous game, both morally and legally. The Law of Return categorically states that individuals who have one Jewish parent or grandparent are eligible for citizenship. This does not stipulate whether one is an observant follower of rabbinic Orthodox Judaism.
With mounting legal and medical bills of over $30,000, Sara has all but given up.
Many others who were waiting for their rights to materialize and who, as a result of not being able to become a productive member of Israeli society, became weary and left humiliated, rejected and cast aside. That is already unconscionable.
But in the case of Sara, a Jewish mother, who will be responsible if tragedy befalls her child due to the illegal, outrageous and unethical persecution of Jewish-born Messianic believers? Who will admit denying this family their God-given right to a home with their own people? And who will justify, God-forbid, the death of another innocent Jew?
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.
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At Jerusalem’s Alliance Cemetery, Meir Aharoni works each day beside friends
If you have visited the Alliance Church International Cemetery on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem’s German Colony in the last 15 years, you were probably greeted by Meir Aharoni, the hospitable volunteer caretaker who also conducts informal tours and provides insight and information to visitors while he works “among his friends.”
Among Meir’s many friends who were laid to rest at Alliance are many whose names the reader may recognize. Among them are eminent Bible scholar Derek Prince and Methodist minister and Christian Zionist leader John Stanley Grauel. Grauel was a crew member of the refugee ship, Exodus-1947, a secret operative of the Haganah during the British Mandate and the renowned “credible Christian” witness to British crimes on the high seas whose testimony before the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine helped create the Jewish state.
The Alliance Cemetery has become a landmark in Jerusalem known not only because of the icons interred there but also for its beautifully landscaped grounds and its recently completed Wall of Life by artist, Patricia Solveson, a colorful mural longer in length than a football field, depicting Bible scenes from Genesis to Revelation.
Without Meir’s dedicated efforts, it is likely that neither the cemetery’s current well-maintained grounds or its stunning mural would exist. When he first visited the Alliance cemetery it was, in his words, “a dark place” and the ambitious mural project which helps set it apart had not yet been conceived. In a way, the cemetery’s restoration and blossoming under Meir’s care parallels his life journey, which also began in the absence of light.
An “ultra-ultra-ultra-Orthodox” Family
Meir was born in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox center of Judaism near Tel Aviv founded in 1924, one of the poorest cities in Israel and the fifth most densely populated city in the world. The city, which Meir describes as “ultra-ultra-ultra-orthodox,” was founded as an agricultural village by a handful of Polish Hasidic families who came to Israel as part of the Fourth Aliyah, a moshav primarily devoted to the cultivation of citrus fruit.
Meir’s mother died when he was 3. Shortly after, his father remarried and Meir was put up for adoption. In his new home among the ultra-religious, he grew up the only male child, stepbrother to eight girls and under constant pressure from his stepparents to embrace ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
He became what he called a yeshiva boy.
“It was a very difficult time for me,” Meir told KNI. “All my life I had been looking for the reality of God and I was concerned, why had God not yet established his kingdom? Why had he not chosen a new king? So I asked questions while I was in Bnei Brak and asked God, ‘Please, God, I want to know who you are.’”
But Meir’s adopted father did not approve of Meir’s constant questioning.
“He used violence to change my soul and my mind so that I might one day become a rabbi,” Meir said.
Meir withdrew. “I only said yes and no and that was it. I was sick but nobody helped me. It was not a very nice life. But the Bible and the Talmud remained interesting to me because I was looking for God.”
They gave me a life
He lived with his adopted family until he turned 14, when his stepfather sent him to live in a yeshiva run by “the Chabad people,” from which he was dismissed after a short time because he was “not able to understand.”
It was not until Meir went to live with a Yemenite Jewish family, his third home in 15 years, when his healing and faith journey began.
“In this family, I slowly came to be healed. They were a lovely family, not very Orthodox, and they practiced a beautiful Judaism. They gave me a life and, slowly slowly, I began to understand who I am.”
Eventually, with his new family’s blessing, Meir went to live in a nearby kibbutz.
“I loved the life there and it looked like God had answered my prayers after two years of being with this family. It was a nice kibbutz. I had my own life. I would study in the morning then work in the afternoon. I was looking for love and I had told some of the people in the kibbutz stories about my past, but I had no idea how sick I was or the trauma I had suffered. It had affected my life very much.”
After the kibbutz, Meir joined the army and his life changed again.
“I was a lone soldier,” Meir said, “and the Israeli Army became a mother and father to me. They took care of me and whatever I needed. For this reason, today, I support the army, love the army and I pray for the army.”
Meir paused to dab at his eyes then added, “I am very excited to tell you that I’m crying now because the army of Israel was like a mom and dad to me.”
I am very excited to tell you that I’m crying now because the army of Israel was like a mom and dad to me.
While in the IDF, Meir continued to try to find God and, although he failed, he found a good friend while in the service. Meir met this friend again, coincidentally—if you believe in coincidences—two years after leaving the army, while living “a normal life” and working in Tel Aviv.
“He invited me to his house for a meal,” Meir said. “I went to his home and, after we ate, he told me his personal story and shared the gospel with me. That was the first time in my life I heard the life story of Yeshua and who he was, a very special rabbi. He told me the whole story.
“I also met his fiancé and they invited me to their wedding. Then he gave me a New Testament. First time in my life. Why did he give me a New Testament? I was confused and afraid. But I listened to all his stories and began to pray and ask God if Yeshua was the Messiah.”
Before Meir bumped into his army friend in Tel Aviv, he had seen “a very historical movie” in Tel Aviv called “Ben Hur.”
“And when I saw the crucifixion of Yeshua I was crying and I didn’t know why. It was raining in the movie. Yeshua’s blood ran in the streets and went everywhere. It was very special.”
Because Meir was afraid, he hid the New Testament his army friend had given him for two months without reading it. “But then I began to read it all the time and I had a question for the Lord, ‘If you, Yeshua, are really the Messiah, for Jewish and Gentile people, I want to know.’
“When I received my invitation to my friend’s wedding, I was a little afraid to go because I had been taught all my life not to receive Yeshua, not to get into theology and philosophy. But I wanted to know and so, although my friend was Messianic, I went to the wedding.”
The event was at a Messianic fellowship called Beit Immanuel in Tel Aviv, outside in the parking lot. There were chairs, music and a nice buffet.
“One of the elders of the congregation spoke during the wedding. What he said began to open my heart very much to Yeshua. He said that Yeshua said, ‘I have the key of death and life,’ and when I heard this I saw a vision of a key.
“And the key came into my heart and I felt it open my heart. A short time afterward I saw another vision and Yeshua the Messiah came to me and said, ‘Meir, I want to be a light to the nations and want you to be a witness to what you see.’ Then everything was clear to me. Everything. Yeshua is the real Messiah for Israel, and my life began to be fire for him.”
The real Torah
Meir chose Beit Immanuel as his congregation and later met “one of the great men of God who helped me to understand the kingdom of God, Professor Derek Prince.”
Meir knew Derek Prince for 30 years and now watches over his friend’s resting place at the Alliance Cemetery, having found his way there after spending three years as a volunteer with a Messianic organization in France.
“The Lord began to talk to me,” Meir said. “I prayed to find out if He wanted me to come to the Alliance Cemetery because it was in terrible shape.”
Thanks to Meir’s constant, reliable volunteer caretaking and his key role in enlisting Patricia Solveson’s years-long work on the Wall of Life, the Alliance International Christian Cemetery, no longer a “dark place,” has been set in order, bathed in light and fully restored. Much like Meir himself.
“The real Torah is here,” Meir said, pointing to the orderly, well-kept rows of gravestones, the bright flowers and shrubs, the cemetery’s clean walks and its brilliant Wall of Life, all of which his efforts helped to bring about.
“And my coming here and finding the Lord makes me very curious to learn more and to share the stories of the people buried here with both Jews and Gentiles.”
Cliff Keller lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his wife, Marcia after making Aliyah in the spring of 2011 from the United States. His most recent novel is a work of historical biblical fiction entitled The Lion or The Lamb: Samson Ruth and Salvation. Cliff also blogs at Standing by the Gate and has a writing website, goodStories.
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Looking over from Mount Nebo
Stunning! This was our first impression when we looked from Mount Nebo in the direction of Israel and started recalling the stories that took place in that region.
Moses died there, after he prepared the nation to cross the river into the land of promise. He also warned them to not play the harlot with foreign gods, or else, the very Angel who led them in a pillar of cloud and fire, would be hidden from them.
A statue of copper snake on Mt. Nebo
Balak, king of Moab, was terrified by a possible invasion of the Israelites, so he hired Balaam to curse them (Num. 22). When that didn’t work, he introduced Israel to the worship of Baal (Num. 25).
1. The very thing Israel had been warned against – to not bow down to idols – happened right there. And so, the punishment of the Hidden Faces went into motion (Deut.
2. A plague killed 24,000 Israelis that day (Num. 25:9).
3. Moab was cursed for ten generations, for hiring Balaam and for not welcoming Israel (Deut. 23:3-4).
It was quite powerful to stand where both the announcement of the judgment took place, and where the promise was given, and look from exile into the promised land. We found an isolated spot on one of the mountain tops, and started praying.
From left to right: Rania, Hermana, Orna, Priscilla and Tian Jie
Rania started to pray and decree, “LORD, come and show your Faces again. We invite the Angel of the LORD back into the land.”
“Could it be,” she asked, “that God would want to reverse this verdict today, at the very location where this punishment was pronounced, by another Jewish person?”
We asked God to forgive us, since we turned the Angel of His Faces from being our Lover into our enemy (Isa. 63:9-11). We then asked Him to divorce Israel (and us) from the Baals that we had embraced – all the false husbands and masters that we have bowed to. We repented and divorced ourselves from them as well. I pleaded on behalf of Naomi, and my companions (my Ruths) did the same as they stood alongside me.
I tried to look into God’s eyes, but realized that I could not see His Faces. So I started declaring Numbers 6:24-27: “The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make His Faces shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The LORD lift up His Faces and give you peace.”
As you listen to the prayer, look at the necklace I am wearing…
“LORD, just about the time you were to give us the gift of marriage to you, we embraced Baal, another husband. Forgive us for taking another yoke. We nursed on foreign breasts. We gave in to our curiosity for foreign gods and worship methods. Show me your Face.”
Hermana had brought a colorful necklace on the trip, thinking one of us would like to wear this decorative jewelry. But at that moment it seemed as if it would serve better as a symbol of what I was repenting of. Treating it as an item of harlotry, witchcraft and defilement, I cut it to pieces. We decided to burn the destroyed necklace, while proclaiming our turning away from idolatry, false lovers and masters.
Priscilla prayed: “I realize that the Lord has already taken care of this on the cross. But as an outward sign of agreement with the cross, of my love for the Lord, for Orna and her people and for my land (Jordan), I declare that the ancient earth, abused by those who worshiped other gods, would not continue to have a hold on the feet of the children of Israel. Be free – in the name of the Lord. Come away from false gods and follow your Messiah – the One who awaits you.”
Priscilla anointed my feet while praying
Speaking to the Heart of Moab and Amon
Modern Jordan lies in the region where a few Biblical kingdoms and nations resided: Edom, Moab, Amon, just to name a few.
When I opened my eyes again, I did not see the land of Israel or our wound. This time I saw Jordan. “I want to speak to that place in the heart of Jordan, where you feel like you do not belong, that you are not His, that you do not have a Father. I want to speak to the Moab and Amon in you. And to the older brother that gave up his birth right (Esau – Edom). I speak to you and open ancient doors, and say: you are welcome… be comforted and receive the mercy of the Lord.”
Up the Mountains to Medaba
After more prayer along these lines, we (especially I) were exhausted and emotionally spent at the end of the day. From sharing the heart of bitter Naomi with my Ruths… to weeping the dry tears of Israel and myself… to having China come alongside me. Then repenting on Mt. Nebo and renouncing the practices that brought about the provocation and estrangement from our God in the first place – that was pretty intense.
Our hostesses took us to a charming old Arab House restaurant, and treated us with some beautiful Jordanian crafts and traditional foods.
We were ready to call it a day!
This article originally appeared on Ot OoMofet Ministries, August 14, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Orna, born and raised in Israel, is a lover of books, and especially The Book. She is fascinated with the Hebrew language and with the God who created the world through the mere expression of Hebrew words. In 2003 she established Ot OoMofet Ministries (Hebrew for “A sign and Example”), whose main focus is turning stories of brokenness and hardships into stories of victory. Besides ministering to the broken hearted in Israel, she now teaches worldwide about the widowhood of Israel, the role the church plays in its restoration and on a variety of other subjects.
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A light in the darkness
Katherine Snyder talks about the work of Anchor Of Hope and the role God plays in counselling.
Paul: What is Anchor Of Hope?
Katherine: Anchor Of Hope is a Messianic counselling centre in Jerusalem and is under the covering of King Of Kings Ministry.
Paul: When and where did you start and why did you start?
Katherine: We officially opened in 2014. We were also training counsellors and we had a class in 2013 to train counsellors that would ultimately become the staff for the Anchor Of Hope Counselling Centre. We started because there is a great need in the country for people who are suffering, and by suffering I mean whatever life throws at you. Whether it is bereavement and loss, relationship issues, family issues, difficult diagnosis. There was nothing here for believers, very little, I shouldn’t say nothing, but very little serving the Messianic community.
Paul: How did the vision for the centre start?
Katherine: The vision actually started in the 80’s when a friend of mine, she had marital problems and there was absolutely no-one to go to talk to who was a believer. Israel has many psychologists, but they wanted to see a believer. Then in the 90’s some of us prayed. We saw more and more in the need for a counselling centre and we didn’t want people leaving the country. So the vision was kind of birthed, to see also a safety net of counsellors in all the congregations and that is why we are counselling, but we are also training.