Over one hundred Arad residents, including the Mayor Nisan Ben-Hemo, participated on Saturday in a prayer session held in the city's industrial zone, near a new Christian church.
The church belongs to the "Messianic Jews" cult, which recently opened a branch in the area.
Messianic Judaism is a Christian movement which claims to "combine" Christianity with Judaism. Followers believe that Jesus is the messiah, but follow various elements of Jewish tradition.
A few years ago, a church on Arad's Gilad Street closed after weekly protests were held in front of it.
However, according to anti-assimilation group Yad L'achim, the church's founders simply rented a new property in the city's industrial area, slightly away from the rest of the city. The location was chosen in hopes that the activists who had previously brought about the church's closure would not find the church and repeat the action. At the very least, the hope was that Yad L'achim would not be able to walk the distance on Shabbat (Sabbath).
Religious Jews do not use transportation on Shabbat or Jewish holidays. The vast majority of Yad L'achim's volunteers are either religious or traditional Jews.
After several discussions with the municipal rabbis, Yad L'achim activists together with the sexton of the city's "Mishkan Shimon" synagogue, prayed and read the Torah near the church on Shabbat morning. Then, for the "mussaf" prayers (after the Torah reading), they marched towards the industrial zone and held a mass prayer gathering.
Completing their prayers in the hot sun, the protesters prayed, "And therefore, we appeal to You," (a final paragraph of every prayer session), and emphasized the sentence regarding "removing false gods from the Land."
All of those gathered then accepted upon themselves the yoke of Heaven.
An explanation of the church's dangers was given, and those who had been caught by the missionaries were told that "Messianic Judaism" are not actually Jews, but a Christian cult, regardless of how the cult's members try to present it.
As a result, several Jews who were about to enter the church turned around and left the area.
When the gathering was over, the crowd returned to the synagogue they had prayed in, where a kiddush and light brunch was served. The meal was in honor of the fact residents merited to save others from falling into a spiritual trap.
Yad L'achim also said they would protest every Shabbat at the same place, until the new church closed as well. They thanked those gathered for both the participation and encouragement provided.