Messianic believers in Israel celebrate Supreme Court ruling against unfair discrimination
Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled to grant tax-deductible donation status to a not-for-profit organisation of Messianic Jews.
The organisation, Yachad, runs a congregation of Messianic believers (Jewish followers of Jesus). It has made repeated attempts to be awarded status as a public institution, but the Knesset Finance Committee, led by ultra-Orthodox Moshe Gafni, steadfastly refused.
In October 2020 Yachad appealed against the latest rebuttal as their submission was denied on the grounds of being involved in “controversial” activity.
On 15 June the High Court of Justice ruled in Yachad’s favour, ordering the Knesset Finance Committee to award the non-profit status known as “section 46”.
The ruling established that the Finance Committee’s decision to refuse tax-exempt status was founded on a false assumption that they had the authority to take into consideration that a non-profit organisation is engaged in “controversial” activity. The judges declared that the committee had “overreached in its authority”. Judge Isaac Amit concluded that the committee’s decision was based on “feelings, beliefs and opinions, and not on any factual basis”.
Judge Daphne Barak-Erez stated that the applicants were engaged in no illegal activity which would disqualify them from tax-exempt status. Given that Yachad had been applying for such status since 2013, and the only grounds for refusal had been the discredited “controversial” element, the court ordered that Yachad be granted the status of section 46.
Gil Afriat, pastor of Tiferet Yeshua congregation, welcomed the court’s decision, expressing the hope that other Messianic congregations would receive tax credit status to benefit the Messianic public and Israel as a whole. He also voiced the prayer that “prejudice and discrimination will continue to break as truth shines forth”.
Messianic Jews and other Christians in Israel hailed the decision as a significant victory for religious freedom.