EXCLUSIVE: ‘Deceptive’ Messianic group ‘happy’ with tax exempt status to teach Israeli Jews about Jesus

“It’s like the Palestinians, that they teach their kids to hate from a young age,” a spokeswoman said, referring to Israelis who are uncomfortable with the missionary organization.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

After Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling which overturned a 2015 Finance Committee decision to deny tax exempt status to Messianic “Jewish” organization Yachad, World Israel News reached out to leaders at the organization for comment.

Yachad was founded by Ari and Shira Sorko Ram, two American-born pastors who identify as Messianic “Jews.”

Another organization founded by the couple, Maoz Israel, is closely linked with Yachad and explicitly states on the site that its mission is to spread Christianity to Israeli Jews.

In a video from a Christian conference in Ireland, Shira Sorko Ram is seen showing pictures of her organization allegedly baptizing Israeli Jews into Christianity.

“We use the Jordan River for baptisms,” she said. “Why not?”

‘Opening to Sephardic Jews’

Sorko Ram pointed to a man in one of the photos, identifying him as “Moti Cohen…one of our first believers.”

“He was a juvenile delinquent in a ‘hard school’. How we got to him, I don’t even remember.

“He came to the Lord and he’s a powerful witness. He’s a Sephardic Jew, and so he has a whole opening to Sephardic Jews.

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“For whatever reason Sephardic Jews…there’s less Believers than the Ashkenazi Jews. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Anyway, he’s now…out on the streets at night, [preaching] Salvation.”

World Israel News spoke with Shani Ferguson, daughter of Ari and Shira Sorko Ram, who serves as Maoz Israel’s Chief Creative Officer.

She said that Yachad is the legal entity of Tiferet Yeshua, a Messianic congregation. Her parents “handed over the reins” to Pastor Gil Afriat several years ago, and he was the one who filed for tax-exempt status for the organization.

Maoz Israel, Ferguson said, does not have an active congregation.

However, on Maoz Israel’s site, the organization writes that it “supports congregations all over Israel…including Tiferet Yeshua…a Hebrew-speaking Messianic Congregation in downtown Tel Aviv, an Ethiopian Congregation, a Russian-speaking congregation, and others.”

During her conversation with WIN, Ferguson expressed optimism that the Israeli government and mainstream Judaism would soon recognize Messianic “Judaism,” calling it another “sect” of the Jewish faith.

“It’s like Reform Judaism,” she said. “50, 60 years ago people didn’t give it a place, but things change.”

When asked what she would say to people who believe the Messianic organization should not be operating in Israel at all, Ferguson said she thought people who opposed their presence were ignorant of what they actually do.

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‘We’re super pro-Israel’

“It’s like the Palestinians, that they teach their kids to hate from a young age,” she said, referring to Israelis who are uncomfortable with the missionary organization.

“The same way that we know that Israeli soldiers aren’t killing Palestinian babies…it’s a matter of education.

“Once people know what we actually do…there are government agencies that know what we’re doing, that we’re super pro-Israel, that we are making a positive impact on society, that we work and pay taxes.”

Ferguson said that Maoz Israel does not have tax-exempt status, and never applied for it.

WIN called Pastor Gil Afriat of Tiferet Yeshua for comment.

He said they were happy with the court decision and ended the call.

‘The problem is the deception’

Prominent rabbi and anti-missionary activist Tuvia Singer told WIN that the Supreme Court decision was “unfortunate, and contravenes previous decisions on missionary matters.”

He cited previous unanimous decisions by the Supreme Court which denied state legitimacy to missionary organizations.

“Unfortunately, there are high-up people in the Israeli government that have given a green light for this kind of thing to go on, in exchange for Evangelical support,” Singer said.

“It’s the fact that this is a Christian organization perpetuating a scam, trying to blur the lines, that’s the major issue here.

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“If they were a Christian church openly operating as a Christian church, rather than calling themselves ‘Jewish’ and trying to deceive Jews, nobody would have a problem with them getting a tax break.”