Trip organizers for Birthright have begun screening American candidates interested in free trips to Israel to prevent Messianic Jews from participating.
A questionnaire of a Birthright (Taglit) trip organizer that was obtained by The Jerusalem Post includes a question regarding applicants' religious faith.
Under a category entitled "eligibility rules," applicants are asked to declare that they are Jewish.
They are also asked to declare that "I do not subscribe to any beliefs or follow any practices which may be in any way associated with Messianic Judaism, Jews for Jesus or Hebrew Christians."
The questionnaire stipulates that if the applicant lies about any of the questions that confirm eligibility he or she will be immediately dismissed from the program and will lose a $250 deposit. In addition, he or she might be obligated to pay the full cost of the trip - valued at $2,500 to $3,000 - paid by Birthright.
Messianic Jews are often Jewish by lineage and/or identify themselves with the Jewish people, but believe that Jesus is the messiah. Most celebrate the Jewish holidays and study Jewish texts in addition to the New Testament.
Attorney Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides legal counsel to Messianic Jews in Israel, called the screening practice "blatant, ridiculous discrimination" and "a shame."
"Instead of drawing children of Messianic Jewish families closer to their Jewish roots, they are excluding them from participating," he said. [...]