Friday, June 15, 2007

Messianic Jews in Israel

Who knew? After watching the video (below) I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm all for religious freedom, but after my personal encounters with Messianic Jews (and those of my friends) it is a bit uncomfortable for me to see that they have 15 congregations in Jerusalem.

I wonder if they try to evangelize, the report says that they don't, but it's a bit hard for me to believe.

Also, their practice looks just like that of the American Christians I know.


Adam said...

Why is it hard for you to believe? Because supposedly the Messianic movement is all about converting Jews to Christianity? That's lashon hara being spread by Orthodox who are scared that maybe, maybe, Jews will gravitate to Messianics.

As for practice, I agree, the practices showed in that video are more like Christianity... but I know that what you see is not typical of Messianic congregations here in the States, which makes me wonder if they cherry-picked the footage.

Jack's Shack said...

I am not a fan of this at all. Jerks should just come out and admit to being Xtian.

Annie said...

Adam- I had thought that Messianic Judaism was a specifically American movement, which was why I was suprised.

Jack- I don't know that they are jerks, and they firmly believe that they are something between Christian and Jewish. I would feel more comfortable with them if they said that they were a Christian sect with some holdover Jewish practices (like Seventh Day Adventists) but to say that they are Jews is a bit uncomfortable.

Then again, it really isn't about my comfort.

Anonymous said...

Interesting question: When there is a group of people with a set of beliefs and practices, and the name of this group is X, are people who do not necessarily follow these beliefs and practices allowed to call themselves X? What I am asking is: is one an X when one calls oneself an X? Or when other members of X designate you as such? (Third possibility: you are an X if and only if you call yourself and X and other X's recognize you as such.) -TR

Jack's Shack said...

It is probably unfair for me to call of them jerks, but than again so is calling them a bunch of misguided ignorant yokels.

I have a problem with people who engage in that sort of proselytizing.

Adam said...

Ummm... most of the Messianic community doesn't engage in proselytizing, at least in the "Jews for Jesus" sense.

As for being "Christians with some holdover Jewish practices," that's not it at all. We actually uphold Torah, most of us. In fact, we uphold Torah far more than MOST Jews! If Judaism is defined as upholding Torah (and it probably should be, otherwise any old thing could be called Judaism) we're more "Jewish" than Reforms!

Annie said...

TR- it is one of the major questions facing groups like LDS Christians and Messianic Jews. I'm generally for a "live and let live" ideology, but I can't get past the Jesus part of Jews for Jesus. A lot of how groups define themselves is in opposition to other groups, and Jews for Jesus really blurs that line.

Jack- ok

Adam- that is probably true, but the small minority that does is very visible. It would be one thing if they were just prosletyzing, but the fact that they TARGET Jews makes me very uncomfortable.

I also don't like the idea that someone is "more" or "less" Jewish depending on their practice. I don't judge Judaism based on observances, but belief. Reform Judaism is a cogent belief system that is a direct product of centuries of Jewish thought. I don't see that same straight line in Jews for Jesus.

Also, what does it mean, in this day and age to "uphold the Torah?" Do you bring sacrifices to the temple? Tithe your fruits? Celebrate the Jubilee year? I am the first to admit that modern Judaism is not really Torah Judaism, it is rabbinic Judaism. I know that, and I've accepted it. We get our "authority" from the Torah, but we no longer really follow it. Lots of things have been discarded or added or changed. To say that a group "upholds the Torah" is specious reasoning.

Adam said...

Annie, you make interesting points about Torah. In fact, this idea that we can't follow Torah in Diaspora and that we can only (more or less) follow Talmud with "Torah as our authority" is the exact problem, in my view. The Torah is very specific about commandments involving the Temple and living in the Land... it says "when you are there". Those commandments are sort of in abeyance until we're living in the Land with a Temple.

Do I believe we should seriously get about the business of building the Third Temple? Certainly. But as a Jew living outside the Land with limited resources, I really don't have much say in the matter. I applaud (and will support, when I can) groups like the Temple Institute. It's those of you living in Eretz Yisrael that have a much closer impact.

If Israelis demanded that the government stop kowtowing to the Arab extremists and say, "We own this Land, we're going to do what God has called us to do," then I think the government would have little choice in the matter. The PA house of cards would fall over... and given the recent discoveries about where the Temple really was, such construction wouldn't disrupt the mosque, so we wouldn't have to deal with that abomination yet. I think that the moderate Arab-Israelis would probably go along with that, but I don't really know.

Anyway, this comment has gone a bit far afield, so I will close with that thought.