Messianic Jews Cannot Be Married as Jews in Israel, Rabbinical Court Rules

Judges say couple are not Jews but converts to Christianity, and must either renounce their new religion or marry as Christians

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court
Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court.Credit: Moti Milrod
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

An Israeli couple who are Messianic Jews cannot marry in a traditional Jewish religious ceremony in Israel because they are considered converts to Christianity, a rabbinical court ruled on Tuesday.

It was the first time a rabbinical court had to deal with the issue of the status of Jews who believe in Jesus as the Messiah, after the couple requested that they be married here according to Jewish tradition.

The dayanim (judges) at Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court wrote that if the couple “declares before the court they have completely given up their Christian beliefs, including their belonging to a Messianic Jewish community and missionary activities, the court will discuss their matter anew.”

The couple were both born Jewish and submitted a marriage request at their local rabbinate in Shoham, central Israel. According to halakha, they are seen as Jewish because even Jews who convert to another religion can still be considered Jewish.

Because of the seriousness of the issue, the case was given to a special panel of three very senior dayanim: Rabbi Zevadia Cohen, head of the rabbinical court, Rabbi Ahiezer Amrani and Rabbi Zvi Ben-Yaakov.

The judges consulted with a scholar on Christianity and missionary cults, as well as speaking with and questioning the couple.

The rabbinical court decision is based partly on a High Court of Justice ruling concerning Messianic Jews who wanted to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. The law defines a Jew as a person who was “born of a Jewish mother or has converted to Judaism and is not a member of another religion.”

Even though that case involved people who were considered Jewish halakhically, the High Court ruled that they were not allowed to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return. The justices based their decision not on their actual status under Jewish law, but on what the petitioners themselves considered to be their religion.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott