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Monday, July 15, 2013

Twisting the law of return: Messianic 'rabbi' establishes law firm to help Messianics immigrate to Israel

The former 'spiritual leader' of the largest messianic congregation in the United States has immigrated to Israel and opened a law firm (as a 'foreign lawyer,' which means he doesn't have to be admitted to the bar here) in Petach Tikva to help Messianic 'Jews' to immigrate to Israel under the law of return.
Infamous U.S. Christian leader "rabbi "Jamie Cowen, who managed to make aliyah in 2011, has changed his name to Cohen and established the messianic law firm Cohen, Pex and Brosh, with its main branch in Petach Tikvah.
The Messianic Times reports that the law firm is comprised solely of "dedicated followers of Yeshua the Messiah" but as of this writing, none of that appears on the Cohen, Pex and Brosh website.
Before immigrating to Israel, Jamie Cowen was the charismatic leader of the large Christian messianic congregation, Tikvat Israel, in Richmond Virginia. Dedicated to evangelizing the Jewish people, Cowen served for several years as president of The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) and is currently listed as a member of the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council.
As mentioned, as of this writing, none of Cowen's "messianic" background information appears on attorney Jamie Cohen's profile, as seen on his firm's website (although there is mention of his studies at a Catholic University and school of theology).

What is featured prominently in the law firm's section under Areas of Practice is "Immigration to Israel":
"All issues of immigration to Israel: Aliyah according to the Law of Return – 1950. Permanent residency. Temporary Residency. Work Visas. Student visas. Tourist visas. Volunteer visas. Clergy visas. International Refugee Law according to the UN convention (Asylum seekers)."
This is of major concern to Jews worldwide but especially in Israel. A number of evangelical/messianic lawyers in Israel have put interpreting the Law of Return to favor messianic Christian aliyah at the top of their agenda, and they are making inroads. In fact, another Israeli messianic law office, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ), has recently issued pro-bono advice, which is being widely disseminated online and in email, geared for the throngs of believing Christians who want to make Aliyah. This will be the subject of JewishIsrael’s next report.
Read the whole thing.

A few comments: First, I have nothing against Christians. I have nothing against Christians supporting Israel. I have written dozens of posts defending Christians from persecution. I have a lot against Christians who try to proselytize Jews.

Second, the law of return is meant to facilitate Jewish immigration to Israel - not anyone else's. After all, this is (supposed to be) the only Jewish state in the world. 40 years ago, in what might have been the last chance to enact a specific definition in the law of return of 'Who is a Jew,' the National Religious Party (forerunner of today's 'Jewish Home') asked Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt"l (may the memory of the righteous be a blessing) whether they should insist on adding the word 'k'halacha' to the law of return as a condition to their entering Yitzchak Rabin's first government. He told them that they should not enter the government without that condition. They ignored him (as a teenager growing up in Boston, the story got around quite quickly...). As a result, the law is ambiguous about who is allowed to immigrate to Israel under the law of return, and we are now paying the price (isn't it ironic that even an Orthodox convert to Judaism has to jump through hoops to immigrate here, but Messianic Christians are allowed to immigrate under the law of return?). This is an illustration of why the Haredim argue that you have to listen to your rabbis....

Third, as to my comment about the 'foreign lawyer' designation: For years, lawyers have been pressing the organized bar to allow us to partner with foreign lawyers. Within the last year, the bar, in its infinite wisdom, has allowed foreign lawyers who are not admitted to the bar here to hold themselves out as lawyers. Just like Cowen is doing. Israeli lawyers, on the other hand, are still forbidden to share their fees with 'non-lawyers,' with term lawyer being defined as - you guessed it - anyone who is admitted to the Israeli bar.

What could go wrong?

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