A reasonable number of Christians think of moving to Israel, each year. These Christians moving to Israel have various concerns in their minds regarding how their Christian status would be accepted in the Jewish state. We shall deal with two most prominent of these concerns in this article.
Minority Status for Christians Moving to Israel
Are you a Christian planning to move to Israel but are worried about your minority status there? If you are then, let this be clear that there is no denying the fact being a Christian you shall be a member of Israel's minority community. In fact, the Christian population of Israel is no more than just 2% of its total population. Therefore, Christians moving to Israel should be mindful that there shall be only a very small Christian community waiting for them to satisfy their religious zeal.
However, the minority status should not discourage Christians moving to Israel as there is another angle to this picture. This angle is the hospitality shown by the people of Israel towards the new immigrants regardless of their Christian status. In fact, the citizens of Israel warmly welcome Christian newcomers in their country as they view it supportive to their cause of an independent Jewish homeland in Middle East. More Christians moving to Israel gives the Israelis a feeling of security as it directly strengthens the case of Israels legitimacy before the outer world. Therefore, if you are worried about your minority status in Israel, fear not as despite being in minority you shall be accepted open heartedly by the people of Israel.
Communities for Christians Moving to Israel:
A host of Christian communities exist in Israel. The existence of such communities not only has quite noteworthy historical background but most of these also exist today to supplement Israels Holy Land image. Christians moving to Israel shall be delighted to know that these communities include the Orthodox Churches (also known as Greek-Orthodox or Eastern Churches), the Non-Chalcedonian Churches, the Latin and Uiante Churches and the Protestant Churches.
To add to this, the good news for Christians moving to Israel does not end here. The most promising part of the story is the fact that Israel recognizes certain Christian communities. To elaborate, there are certain Christian communities in Israel which have been recognized by the government of Israel. These recognized Christian communities therefore have a right to maintain their own personal laws e.g. laws relating to marriage and divorce, which is important as there is no civil marriage in Israel (which prohibits Jews and Muslims from intermarriage, and forces interreligious couples to marry abroad instead, Cyprus being a popular option).
Note: We have more information about Israeli law on our website
Before: Guided pilgrim tours
Before you decide upon moving to Israel it's wise to first travel around in this beautiful country to get an idea of the people, the land and basic things such as food and transport. A Christian tour of Israel with a certified Israel tour guide is the recommended way to get a good start on your explorations. It will also allow you to wisely choose your new place of residence.
If you have Jewish ancestry, specifically if one of your grandparents is or was Jewish, you are eligible to move to Israel through the Law of Return. This is even the case if you're not Jewish such as when one of your grandfathers was Jewish but neither of your grandmothers. Through Aliyah you can get citizenship in less than 1 year. You are also eligible to special programs and you can receive money to support your moving to Israel. The religious nature of the country will lead to many issues however if you're not Jewish - you (or your non-Jewish children) won't be able to marry easily to an Israeli Jew and there are many other issues related to not being Jewish. The advantage is that you won't have to join the army if you're not Jewish.
There are about 120,000 Christian Arabs in Israel (about 10% of Arab Israelis). Also in the West Bank there is a minority of Christian Arabs. The holy places Bethlehem (in the West Bank) and Nazareth (inside Israel's 1967 borders) used to have a majority of Christians, but these days you will primarily find Muslim Arabs there. The position of the Arab Christian community is difficult and in a 2007 letter from member to Bush II of US Congress Henry Hyde it's stated that the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem (such as the Silwan neighborhood) and in the West Bank are "irreversibly damaging the dwindling Christian community". As a Christian it's good to consider the situation of Arab Christians in the holy land and to realize the effect of your moving to Israel. For Christianity in general it would definitely be a bad move to join or support the Jewish settler movement in the West Bank. See also B'Tselem's detailed information about Land Expropriation and Settlements.
To summarize, Israel is a country with an overwhelming Jewish population with Christians being only a small part of the whole population. However, this should not work as a turn-off for Christians moving to Israel as the country embraces Christians quite open heartedly.