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Is this any way to treat your friends?

[by Dean Smith] The way things are going, it seems the last friends left for Israel are Evangelical Christians. Yet, some orthodox Jews seem intent on driving Evangelicals away.

According to reports, The Jerusalem Municipality, that runs the city of Jerusalem, will now receive prior approval from a group of Jewish Rabbis before allowing Christian events at the Jerusalem Pais Arena (JPA) — a multipurpose facility that seats up to 11,000 people.

This happened because a group of orthodox Jews referred to as haredi accused Christians holding an event at JPA of forcing Jews to convert.

Though the event was not named, many speculate the haredi were referring to the Empowered21 conference held at JPA May 20 – 25, 2015. Empowered21 is a pentecostal organization that holds conferences around the world seeking to unite those in the pentecostal and Charismatic movement. The group is seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the world similar to what happened on the Day of Pentecost and the 1906 Azusa Street revival.

There were about 4,500 people from around the world in attendance at the Jerusalem event.

According to, members of the haredi labelled the Empowered21 conference as a “major show of forced conversion.” There undoubtedly were a number of born again, spirit filled Jews attending the event, but not because of forced conversions.

When news of the conference became known a number of haredi petitioned the municipality to cancel the event. However, the city was unable to do so because of legal reasons.

So the haredi reached an agreement with Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat that going forward the municipality would seek prior approval from a group of Jewish Rabbis before issuing permits allowing Christians to use the facility.

Haredi is a stream of Orthodox Jews estimated to have upwards of 1.5 million supporters. It is made up of a variety different groups with communities in Israel, North American and Europe. Haredi typically reject the modern secular lifestyle. The men usually wear black hats which often have different styles depending on what group they belong too.

The name is based on the Hebrew word ‘hared’ found in Isaiah 66:2 and interpreted means “one who trembles at the Word of God.” They are often described as ultra-Orthodox which is considered a derogatory term in Israel. Those in the movement refer to themselves as Yiddish or Ben Torah, literally sons of the Torah.

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