ARAD, Israel - For the past seven years, the small Messianic Jewish community in the southern Israeli town of Arad has been harassed and persecuted by ultra-Orthodox Jews who accuse them of missionary activity.
The small desert town, with a population of 25,000 mostly secular residents, is home to a growing number of Israeli believers.
Yakim Figueras, pastor of one of the four congregations there, told CBN News that for years, religious Jews have subjected the believing community to sometimes daily cursing and harassment outside their homes.
"They come with either half-truths against us or complete lies…and they entice their own people and try to bring others against us," Figueras said.
On Wednesday, a demonstration organized by Yad L'achim, the aggressive anti-missionary organization, brought about 200 protesters to the home of Polly Sigulim. Their message was clear.
"We hope that after we will be here and demonstrate and really speak from the heart, we won't need to return again for demonstrations because the Messianic Jews, as they call themselves, will be erased from Arad," demonstrator Benny Vulcan said.
One rabbi accused the believers of trying to destroy the Jewish people. Some carried signs that read, "Hamas wants our land, while Messianics want our souls."
Protesters have often targeted Sigulim, a widow and foster mother whose grown sons serve in elite Israeli army units.
"Polly's house is one of their focuses in town because one of the lies that were spread against us was that we kidnap innocent children, Jewish children, and baptize them into Christianity," Figueras said.
Sigulim told CBN News she can withstand the persecution because she knows she is not alone.
"We have a very strong community here," she said, quickly adding the other reason she can handle the harassment.
"I'm not worried because I have the heavenly father; I have Yeshua [Hebrew: Jesus] as the master of this house, and I know that our house is surrounded by angels," she said.
Arad police say their hands are tied and they must allow the demonstrations to take place.
But some of the town's residents are fed up with the protests.
About 25 residents who showed up for a counter-demonstration accused the protesters of racism. Some expressed concern about how the protest would reflect on Arad and on Israel.
But Sigulim and other believers were not at home on Wednesday night. They had gathered to pray during the protest for the demonstrators and for their community.
"Bless them, Lord Father. Pour out your Spirit on them," Sigulim prayed.