The Magistrates Court in Be’er Sheva has ruled against a Messianic congregation that sued the city’s Chief Rabbi and Yad L’Achim.

The Nachalat Yeshua Messianic congregation, led by Pastor Howard Bass, has lost its lawsuit against Be’er Sheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri  - brother of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri - and the counter-missionary organization Yad L'Achim. The congregation had sued the two for responsibility for a disturbance that occurred in December 2005, when members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Be’er Sheva tried to prevent the baptism of at least two Jews to Christianity by breaking into a messianic church compound. (for history of Jews for Jesus, click here).

Bass had reportedly demanded either a public apology for the attack or roughly $400,000 from the defendants.

JewishIsrael, an organization that exposes missionary activity and seeks to “strengthen our people and our values in our land,” reported that the website of Maoz Israel Ministries - which describes itself as a “Messianic Jewish ministry in Israel” -had published a letter by Pastor Bass acknowledging the defeat. The letter cannot be found there at this time, but the excerpts quoted by JewishIsrael appear in a full letter currently on the “Streams in the Negev” website, apparently of the Nachalat Yeshua congregation that lost the suit. The letter there states:

"A verdict has been handed down by Judge Iddo Ruzin in our lawsuit filed against the Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yehuda Deri, and against the anti-Messianic organization, Yad L'Achim. The judge did exactly what we have been praying and hoping… that he would not do!  Judge Ruzin has determined that the two defendants are innocent of any wrong-doing concerning the events before, during, and after 24 Dec 2005, and that we did not produce sufficient evidence to prove any personal liability on their part in our civil suit against them. Judge Ruzin has ordered that we pay 1000 [shekels] to each of the defendants, and that we pay the legal fees of each of their advocates, which will come to tens of thousands of shekels. (We have not yet been notified of this amount.)"

The letter states that an appeal will be filed, if at all, “only after consultation with other Messianic leaders from around Israel.”

Yad L’Achim reported last week that a yeshiva student on his way home was attacked at the Raanana junction and was beaten by two missionaries who apparently thought he was a Yad L’Achim activist. The two attackers were detained by police. Yad L’Achim states that to the best of the organization’s knowledge, one of the assailants was Marcel Clark, a leading missionary of Asian origin with Dutch citizenship currently in Israel on a tourist visa, and another from one of the countries of the the former Soviet Union.