The Jerusalem District Court has ordered Moshav Yad Hashmonah, a community of Messianic Jews and Evangelical Christians, to pay compensation to two lesbians after it refused to host a same-sex wedding. "We knew we were breaking the law. Somebody needed to do it." says Ayelet Ronen, general secretary for the village.
Judge Moshe Yoad Cohen upheld a lower court ruling that the Moshav violated a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
During the trial, representatives of the Moshav quoted from both Old and New Testaments. "We do not hate homosexuals or lesbians. We love them. We simply told the court that it is God's word in the Bible that calls homosexuality an abomination," Ronen told Israel Today.
She continues: "As a faith-based community we need to be able to refuse events that blatantly oppose our religious beliefs. We explained to the judge that a same-sex celebration would ruin our business. The majority of our clientele are Christians who vigorously oppose gay marriage."
The lesbians' lawyer accused members of Yad Hashmonah of "homophobia," pointing to an announcement published by the Moshav that "no homosexual or lesbian organization will be allowed to rent space for functions on our premises."
That announcement came in response to a flood of requests for same-sex celebrations on the Moshav from gays and lesbians hoping to pass more court decisions requiring the Messianic community to pay out huge compensations.
As a result, the Moshav was forced to shutter their events-hosting business, resulting in huge financial losses. "We used to host an average of 35-50 weddings a year over the past 12 years. Israelis from all over the country, religious and secular, loved to come here. Now there are none," says Ronen.
Judge Cohen held that the Moshav cannot refuse to host a same-sex wedding reception even if doing so goes against their own conscious. The Moshav's lawyer, Michael Decker, challenged that ruling, asking the judge, "What if a Catholic went to an Orthodox Jewish carpentry in [the ultra-Orthodox town of] Bnei Barack and asked them to build a statue of Mary? Would they have to build the idolatrous image?"
The judge replied: "They would have to make it or else be fined. That is the law."
Ronen says that the ruling demonstrates that "even the judge understood that current laws are not providing sufficient protections for religious communities."
According to Ronen, "a lot of religious Jews and rabbis have secretly told us 'good for you. We are glad that you take this stand.' But they will not stand with [Messianic Jews] to change the law. They hate us too much and would never work with us."
In his ruling, the judge upheld the earlier verdict of the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, ordering Yad Hashmonah to pay the two lesbians damages of 60,000 shekels ($17,000) plus another 30,000 shekels for attorneys' fees for both the original suit and the appeal. "At this time we are not planning another appeal. To lose again would not sound good," says Ronen.
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Love For His People Editor's Note:
I have stayed several times at Yad Hashmonah, while the US Director of Vision for Israel from 2005-2010. It is a beautiful site, and we tremendously enjoyed the scenery and the closeness to Jerusalem. We pray the Lord will give them new vision and new income, as they seek Yeshua HaMashiach in all that they do. We applaud them for their courageous and honorable stand for truth.
Steve Martin President Love For His People, Inc.
The Founders of Yad Hashmonah
The founders of Yad Hashmona were Bible believing Protestant pioneers from Finland. In 1971 they registered as a legal association in Israel. Three years later they moved to the site to begin building and developing the stony area. During the 1960’s, they had worked as volunteers in different Israeli kibbutzim, where they learned about the communal lifestyle which they later adapted at Yad Hashmona.
As believers in the fulfilment of biblical prophecies, the Finnish pioneers desired to contribute their share to the Zionist movement in Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. They also wished to express their gratitude to the God of Israel, who blessed all the nations with the gift of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
“Yad Hashmona” means Memorial to the Eight. Sometimes it is written as Yad Ha8. The name was given by the founding settlers in memory of eight Jewish refugees, who escaped in 1938 from Austria to Finland, and who were surrendered by the Finns to the Gestapo in November 1942. It was a time when the Finnish government collaborated with Nazi Germany in opposition to the Soviet Union, in an attempt to recover the Karelia region - which Stalin had ‘stolen’ from the Finns in the “Winter War” of 1939/40.
The eight refugees were taken to Auschwitz, where seven of them were murdered. The lone survivor, Dr. Georg Kolman, who lost his wife and baby son in the extermination camp, made aliya to Eretz Israel. The Finnish founders of the Moshav wished to somehow atone on behalf of their nation for the surrender of the eight to the Nazis, and they viewed their contribution to the Land of Israel as a public request for forgiveness.
Notwithstanding the Finnish government’s refusal to surrender all of their Jewish citizens to the Germans, the action taken on Finnish soil against the eight Austrian Jews remained a heavy burden on the Finns’ conscience. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until November 2000 that the Finnish government and Church leaders dedicated a memorial to the eight in Helsinki. A monument was erected in the Observatory Hill, opposite Helsinki’s South Harbour, from where the refugees embarked on the death ship SS Hohenhörn. In the presence of representatives of the Jewish community in Finland, the Prime Minister, Paavo Lipponen, begged the forgiveness of the entire Jewish people.