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Messianic Jewish Families Fight Israel’s Effort to Deport Them

Two families belonging to a messianic Jewish sect are fighting efforts by the Israeli government to deport them.

Just 17 days before their visas are due to expire, the Beresford and Candle families held a news conference Wednesday and publicly appealed to the government to allow them to stay in Israel.

Accusing the government of discrimination, Ricky Candle said: “They particularly have a vendetta against a Jew who believes this way. It’s too much for them or something.”

Candle’s sect believes that Jesus was the Messiah.

The families maintain they should be allowed to immigrate to Israel under the state’s Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to Jews.

But Israel’s High Court of Justice last September rejected the petitions of three families from the messianic Jewish sect who wanted to stay in Israel under the Law of Return.

Richard and Ricky Candle, who came to Israel five years ago from Southern California, have four children living with them in Israel.

Ricky Candle warned that if her family and the Beresfords are forced to leave the country, the government would feel justified in choosing other targets to deport. “It’s almost like ethnic cleansing,” she said.

“I don’t blame them for their feelings, but you cannot take your personal feelings, with power in high places, and say you represent all of Israel, when all of Israel thinks something else,” she added.

Gary and Shirley Beresford arrived in Israel six years ago from Zimbabwe. Their two sons are Israeli citizens and have both served as paratroopers in the Israeli army.

Beresford appeared at the news conference in Jerusalem wearing a skullcap and noted that although messianic Jews believe Jesus was the Messiah, they are still Orthodox Jews.

In response to the public appeal by the two families, the Interior Ministry noted the High Court decision last September.

David Efrati, head of the ministry’s population registrar, said those families simply did not qualify to stay. Although born to Jewish mothers, they were now members of a different religion and therefore were not eligible to remain in Israel under the law, he explained.

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