WND Describes Israeli Rabbinical Court as “Sanhedrin”

A bizarre headline at WND:

Sanhedrin bans all Messianic Jewish marriages in Israel

The state of Israel’s religious establishment is taking its persecution of Messianic Jewish believers in Jesus to a new level.

A rabbinic court, or Sanhedrin, has ruled that a Jew who believes in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah is no longer considered a Jew for purposes of marriage in Israel. This makes it impossible for two Messianic Jews to get married inside the country.

This use of the term “Sanhedrin” here by WND‘s Leo Hohman is misleading, for three reasons.

First, the connotation of the word is a religious court with the power to deal with criminal matters, and to enforce religious rules through criminal penalties – akin to the situation in Iran, for instance. This hardly applies to rabbinical courts in Israel, which deal only with certain civil matters.

Second, Israel’s rabbinical courts do not use the word “Sanhedrin” to describe themselves. The correct term for a rabbincal court is Beit Din (or Beth Din), which literally means “House of Judgement”. The author’s source, Haaretz, shows the court building in Tel Aviv where the decision was made; above the entrance is written in Hebrew:

בית הדין הרבני האזורי תל-אביב

The English underneath reads “The Rabbinical Court of Tel-Aviv”, although the Hebrew also includes the word “Regional” (אזורי). “Beit Ha-Din” are the first two Hebrew words (reading right-to-left); the next word “הרבני”, meaning “the rabbinical”, is perhaps a redundancy coming after “בית הדין” but presumably denotes the court’s status as an official arm of Israel’s Rabbinate.

The word “Sanhedrin” (סנהדרין), in contrast, is not present, as it would not be appropriate. The word does appear in places on the rabbinical court website, but usually in relation to a section of the Talmud with that name. Books and articles discussing modern Israel’s rabbinical courts do not refer to them as “Sanhedrins” either.

Third, there is a group in Israel that calls itself the Sanhedrin, but this is a theocratic and fundamentalist project that lacks any official standing. However, WND articles have cited its existence as evidence of the further restoration of ancient Israel in the modern world as a sign of the Last Days (“extremely relevant to students of Bible prophecy”, according to Hal Lindsey).

Hohman (or an editor) perhaps chose the word “Sanhedrin” because of its Biblical connotations – reflecting a Christian Zionist tendency to conflate modern and ancient Israel, and in the context of rabbinical hostility to Messianic Jews perhaps also recalling the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin as described in the New Testament.

Hohman goes on to quote two Messianic Jews on the subject of the court’s decision: Michael Brown, who is one of the more moderate and sensible voices at Charisma News, and Zev Porat, who is based in Tel Aviv. Porat is an enthusiast of a WND book claiming that the elderly kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri found Jesus shortly before he died in 2005; the work is by none other than the birther and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Carl Gallups.

The lack of secular marriage in Israel is a long-standing problem; for Israeli Jews who are denied the right to a rabbinically approved marriage for one reason or another the usual solution is to get married overseas, most conveniently in Cyprus.

One Response

  1. In his wrath said God unto a people in deep Apostasy “Ye shall not enter into My Rest:” true unto this day, even the words “I will carry you beyond Babylon” now in spiritual Babylon, step to Hell. Any amount of Language Sorcery is not going to help.

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