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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Ultra-orthodox group harasses Messianic Jews 

Serge and Naama Kogen, Messianic Jews who live in Mevasseret Zion, a suburb west of Jerusalem, have been accused of being 'missionaries' targeting and manipulating local youths. The couple are native Israelis who strongly deny charges of 'proselytising', reports Release International.

The hard-line Jewish group, Yad L'Achim, has staged a protest outside the Kogens' home, posted leaflets about them in the neighbourhood and even taken out a full-page advert in a local paper denouncing them. During a demonstration on 26 June, about 20 supporters of the group used megaphones to attack the couple verbally for 90 minutes. Since then opponents have threatened to burn down the Kogens' home.

The false claims appear to be based on the fact that the Kogens had been helping a teenage neighbour who was experiencing problems at school and at home. Compass Direct news agency reports that the 16-year-old girl strongly denied Yad L'Achim's claims against the Kogens as the group demonstrated outside their home. In fact, she insisted she had not even become a Christian. β€œThey are just good people,” she said.

Serge and Naama insist they have never discussed religion with the teenager – and had sought permission from the girl's mother for her to attend their congregational worship when the teenager herself had expressed an interest in doing so.

It was the girl's mother who first made proselytising allegations against the Kogens to local police, who investigated but found nothing illegal.Yad L'Achim then took up the case and brought court proceedings against the Kogens and their congregational leader – a case that was dismissed by a judge on 14 June.

Yad L'Achim is reportedly trying to push for new 'anti-missionary laws'. Under Israeli law, spreading one's faith is legal but 'proselytising minors' and offering 'material incentives' to conversion are not.

Yad L'Achim is a fringe group whose views are not representative of most Israelis, according to the Kogens' congregational leader.

http://www.inspiremagazine.org.uk/news.aspx?action=view&id=5511

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