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Messianic Jewish Rabbi in Washington Charged with Assault and Facing Trial

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Isaac David Heckman, the self-appointed rabbi of Assembly of Called Out Believers, a messianic congregation in Wenatchee, Washington, is facing felony assault charges and has a trial currently set for March 1.

According to the affidavit filed by deputy Zach Brunner with the Chelan County Sheriff Office, on March 26, 2021, Maria Brunetto went to a local center for victims of domestic violence and wished to report an incident to law enforcement.

The affidavit states that Brunetto was in a “dating relationship” and considered an “intimate partner” with Heckman. She first met him online in January 2020, and they met in person when he visited her in San Diego in March of the same year. Eventually, Brunetto moved to Dryden, Washington, in September to live with Heckman, although he was determined to “keep their relationship secret.”

While Brunetto said there were many instances of violence, she specifically mentioned one on December 21, 2020, during a car ride home from visiting Heckman’s sister in which Heckman punched her, pulled her hair, and threatened to leave her behind along the road.

She also reported an incident in January 2021 in which Heckman threatened her with a firearm, leaving her afraid for her life. Later in January, he assaulted her again, “banged her head on the ground,” and “put his foot on her face.”

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Brunetto accused Heckman of strangling her to the point of losing consciousness in February 2021 because he was angry she had sent images of her injuries to her father in Italy.

Subsequently, Heckman was charged with four assault charges, one in the first degree, two in the second degree, and one in the fourth degree. Three of the four charges are felonies. The court also issued a domestic violence no-contact order to protect Brunetto from contact by Heckman. 

In 2013, Heckman was charged with fourth degree assault in Pierce County. In that case, he admitted to assaulting his then-wife Dilnaz Heckman by “intentionally grabbing her collar and causing her to fall and be injured.”

Heckmen pled guilty to the gross misdemeanor and was required to pay victim compensation of $500, take parenting classes, have a domestic violence evaluation, and ordered to have no contact with his victim.

In August 2020, Heckman’s attorney, Ryan Robertson, moved to vacate his 2013 conviction and the order was granted on October 6, 2020 only two months before his first major assault reported by Brunetto.

Heckman’s LinkedIn profile states his position as executive director of Serving Others Worldwide, a non-profit humanitarian organization. His only listed education is from the University of Washington. 

His biographical information on the Assembly of Called Out Believers website describes him as a Torah teacher/senior pastor, but lists no credentials for his training. He says he is a member of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA). 

However, Joel Chernoff, General Secretary of MJAA checked its records and found no evidence that Heckman is or has ever been a member of MJAA, “nor has he been ordained by our affiliated congregational organization, the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS), nor is his congregation affiliated with the IAMCS.”

Whether the Assembly of Called Out Believers qualifies as a Christian congregation is uncertain given their statement of beliefs. The group does not believe in the doctrine of original sin. 

The Assembly’s belief statements about the triune nature of God are concerning and confusing, according to Dr. Igal German, a Messianic Jewish apologist. It includes declarations like “God does have Sons” and “God is Spirit and His Spirit is not a separate entity as many have erroneously taught but His very essence.”

After reviewing the statement of beliefs, German said, “From what I can tell, this would be a fringe Messianic-Jewish/Hebrew-Roots movement that upholds Torah observance and seems to have some issues with God’s tri-unity and so would be borderline cult-like in its beliefs.”

By contrast, German’s declaration of beliefs about the Trinity states, “The Lord God of Israel, Yahweh is One and is the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ – Yeshua HaMashiach) and the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh). The Son, who exists eternally, became incarnate as Jesus Christ, the second person of the One God. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are co-equal in their eternal divine substance with God the Father.”

Another person who feels victimized by Heckman from afar is Sherri Dungan. While she has never met Heckman in person, she began listening to his teaching online in 2018. During the pandemic, Heckman began hosting conference calls in which Dungan participated. Over the months of the pandemic, Heckman would call Dungan personally and engage in conversation. In November 2020, Dungan said she began to grow concerned about the direction their conversations were moving. 

“He tried to lure me to Washington,” she told MinistryWatch. Dungan gave $2,100 to the needs of the ministry, but within five days of her contribution, Dungan said Heckman had retained counsel and was appearing in court to get his right to possess firearms restored.

“I feel taken advantage of. He’s a fraud and a fake,” Dungan said.

Heckman did not reply to several attempts to reach him for comment.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.