Jewish Journal

Messianic Jew causes boycott call from Bible Quiz

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 6, 2008 | 12:24 pm

And you thought Jeopardy! was dramatic:

A group of religious Zionist rabbis have called for a boycott of this year’s International Bible Quiz after discovering that one of the four finalists from Israel is a Messianic Jew who believes Jesus is the true Messiah.

“Messianics are missionaries who proselytize in very sophisticated ways,” said Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the rabbis calling to boycott the quiz.

“It is forbidden to give them legitimacy by allowing them to take part in the quiz.”

Other rabbis that have called to boycott the quiz include Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, Ya’acov Yosef, son of Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Tzvi Tau, head of Har Hamor Yeshiva.

The call to boycott the quiz came after Yad L’Achim, a haredi anti-missionary organization, discovered that one of the finalists, Bat-El Levi, an 11th grader from a high school in Pisgat Ze’ev, was a Messianic Jew.

Levi won this year’s national bible quiz for state schools and will be one of four finalists from Israel competing for the International Bible Quiz Championship on Independence Day.

The Education Ministry said in response to a query from The Jerusalem Post that the “Global Bible Quiz for Jewish Youth” was open only to Jewish pupils. Regarding Messianic Jews, the pupil in question was Jewish, and therefore, according to the ministry’s legal department, was not disqualified from participating.

That is an interesting argument made by the Education Ministry, because my understanding has been that most Jews consider Messianics to be Christians, not Jews. Messianics, generally, consider themselves to be Jews who believe in the divinity of and salvation offered by Yeshua; I’ve attended a few services and rarely heard the words “Jesus,” “Christ,” or “Christian.”

Reuters appears to have spoken with a relative of Levi, who said the family was unfairly being attacked by the anti-missionary organization.

The relative, who declined to be named, confirmed that Levy and her family “believe in Yeshua Ben-David, the saviour from Nazareth” — Jesus’s Hebrew name. But Yad L’Ahim was wrong in branding Levy a missionary, the family member said.

The family keeps its faith to itself. To these people, anyone who disagrees with their version of Jewish belief is the enemy. I hope God pays them back in kind,” the relative said.

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