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Interior Ministry Ruling Could Bring 10,000 Missionaries From India
The Interior Ministry has announced that it will allow members of the Messianic Jews cult to make aliyah under the Law of Return, which means they will receive automatic Israeli citizenship.
07/27/08

The announcement, which reverses Israel's long-standing policy, came in response to petitions filed in the High Court by 10 missionaries who had been refused citizenship.

Yad L'Achim, citing a recent news report in the Sangai Express, warned that the ruling opens the door to more than 10,000 Messianic Jews from India to come to Israel and seek to convert Jews.

The news report noted that there are many Messianic Jews from the northeast region of India, particularly among the Chin-Kuki-Mizo communities, who will be eligible for Israeli citizenship. According to G. Lieboi, an evangelist working with the United Messianic Jews Congregation (UMYC), there are around 10,000 members of the Messianic Jews in Manipur alone.

"An elated UMYC general secretary PK Thomas said that the judgment is like a dream come true and expressed hope that the decision will surely bring unity and will act as a cementing piece toward peace and unity among the Messianic Jews living in this part of the globe," reported the Sangai Express.

Previously, the High Court ruled that Messianic Jews were not part of the Jewish community and thus not eligible to make aliyah under the Law of Return.

"It's a known fact that there is a sect of people that were born as Jews and came to believe in Jesus, who call themselves Messianic Jews," wrote Supreme Court Justice Tzvi Berenson. "Apparently, it's important to them to stay attached to their Jewish heritage, but Judaism repelled them and they cannot be considered part of the Jewish community."

The Interior Ministry's recent decision, which has the approval of the High Court, reverses this policy.

Yad L'Achim chairman Rabbi Sholom Dov Lifshitz fired off letters to all religious Knesset members urging them to use legislative shortcuts to draft a law that prevents the Interior Ministry from implementing its new policy.

He also sent letters to Rabbanim, beseeching them to do everything in their power to reverse the decree.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said that until now all requests from Messianic Jews claiming to be Jews were rejected, but that the petitions in question came from cult members who belonged to Jewish families.

Rabbi Lifshitz dismissed the response, saying it only confirms that anyone who was a Jew and converted can make aliyah.

"Is it conceivable that the country would allow a terrorist or someone with a criminal background to make aliyah simply because he has relatives who are Jews?" he asked. "Isn't it crystal clear that the missionaries intend to use this new stand of the Interior Ministry to harm Jewish souls and convert them?"

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