Carl Kinbar on Messianics in the Jewish World

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The last time I visited a non-Messianic synagogue, I didn’t tell anyone I was a follower of Yeshua.

Not out of some scary secret plan to convert everyone to Christianity (sorry, anti-missionaries), but because some other practical reasons:

  1. I figured I wouldn’t be welcomed/would be kicked out.
  2. People would look at me weird/not approach me/shun me.

But one thing that stuck with me was, it didn’t feel right hiding my identity. I felt uncomfortable when folks talked to me, because I feared they’d somehow discover I was a follower of Yeshua, then I’d get the boot.

My older brother was with me last time, and I related this to him, how I just wished I could at least tell the rabbi privately, “I’m a follower of Jesus. I’m not here to proselytize.”

Should Jewish Yeshua-followers be opened about their faith in the Jewish community?

52 comments:

  1. Sure, if not there, where? If they kick us out, so what? It would be an honor, would it not? And why do we need to be there so badly?

    We're not accepted in the Jewish World generally and we're not truly accepted in the Christian one, either. Heck, some of us aren't even accepted in the MJ world! And I don't expect we differ much from Messiah Himself in that regard. Baruch HaShem!

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  2. "Pay attention! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be as prudent as snakes and as harmless as doves. Be on guard, for there will be people who will hand you over to the local Sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as a testimony to them and to the Goyim. But when they bring you to trial, do not worry about what to say or how to say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you should say."

    Being "open" doesn't mean to announce it to stir up trouble. Be wise/careful, ("be on guard") and watch for the opportunity to be the witness you are called to be when it arises. And, if there are consequences, then so be it - there should also be some results as His word never returns void.

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  3. Judah, just wear your "Know Jesus. Know Peace." t-shirt next time you visit a synagogue and be done with it:)

    Some liberal temples and synagogues may not care what you believe, but if an MJ wants to join say a traditional synagogue and starts going around telling people "I believe in Yeshua/Jesus", he will be asked to leave (so, why come there in the first place - just to stir things up, to be a "witness"?). At a first glance this seems like a nice and bold way to "not deny Yeshua" - but to actually deny Him is a whole other matter really. In some cases to be open is not a very smart move in the light of Jewish sensitivities from the past 2K years and sometimes not safe or practical (like Messianic Russian Jews who make sure not to publicize their identity for fear of being denied the right to immigrate into Israel and be stuck in an antisemitic country).

    However, here's a piece of useful advice once given to me by an Israeli Messianic leader and scholar. I think it's a very sound advice for those of us who were born Jewish, believe in Yeshua as Messiah, but are wishing to be part of a Jewish community, it is based on our present reality, and for him, born out of much experience.

    "My advice to you, and anybody who cares to ask me, is that you will join a local synagogue. Do that without identifying yourself as a "messianic Jew." This term has become tainted and is linked to people and organizations, like "Jews for Jesus" with whom you may not want to be associated with. As you get to know the people, you may find proper opportunities to share your beliefs. Disclosing it at the start gives the rabbi no option but to refuse your participation in the synagogue. However, if your life reflects commitment to the Jewish way of life, once finding out about your faith may not be a threat any longer."

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  4. Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

    Proverbs 6:23a For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light.
          
    "The lamp is the mitzvah, the light it shines is the Torah" --Arba Minim lyrics.

    I see no scriptural suggestion to spiritually assault, insult, or get-in-their-face.

    Yak

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  5. Christians visit synagogues all the time. Sometimes, they're even invited, such as when our local Reform synagogue has "Deli Days", an annual fundraiser/community open house. It's an event to educate the community, including Christians, about Judaism, and people are encouraged to ask questions and to interact.

    I know quite a number of Christians/Messianics who attend classes at the local Chabad. As long as they mind their manners, no one objects. I suspect that people who are openly Christian are "tolerated" by the Chabad, especially if they have a Jewish spouse, but there's no problem as long as these folks don't stand up in the middle of service or class and start telling everyone about Jesus (which did happen recently at the Reform shul during Shabbat services...the person was politely escorted out of the building).

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  6. "Sure, if not there, where? If they kick us out, so what? It would be an honor, would it not?"

    Luke... this is not two thousand years ago. Things have changed. Untold numbers of Jews have been slaughtered "in the name of Jesus" by his supposed followers and in times past many Jewish converts to Christianity have been proven traitorous and been persecutors of their former co-religioners. Jews have an excellent historical memory and the world is not even one person's lifetime away from Holocaust that many Jews see as having been instigated at least in part by Christian theological treatment of Jews. Because of this Yeshua's name has been smeared in Jewish eyes as something to fear, especially those Jews who take their Judaism seriously. It's not Pharisees vs. apostles all over again. The world has moved on.

    "And why do we need to be there so badly?"

    As a Jew, it's my natural inclination and longing to be with my own people. So was it Yeshua's, the apostles, and Shaul's. It may be hard for some to understand this. This natural draw is what kept Jews together as a people all these millenia. On the other hand, where are the Jewish children of the early Hebrew Christian/Messianic Jewish leaders of the days of old (only a hundred years or less ago)? None are to be found - their valiant-for-Jesus believing forefathers have cut off themselves from the Jewish community in deed and thought, intermarried and dissolved into the melting pot of Christianity.

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  7. "I just wished I could at least tell the rabbi privately, “I’m a follower of Jesus. I’m not here to proselytize.”

    That sounds like "Sshhh, I have a contagious disease. I am not here to spread it.", that is as if what you have is so bad, unless you disclose it to people around you, people will be aghast at you sneaking in to infect them. May be at least the doctor knows about it and hopefully he keeps it to himself (i.e. the rabbi).

    That's not how I as a Jew want to go to shul. I go there because I am a Jew amongst other Jews to worship G-d with other Jews. I am not strange, weird, unobservant, Jewishly ignorant or can't find my place in a siddur. If this is the image I project while telling other people in the shul that I believe in Yeshua, the Jews around me have every right not to want any of it. However, if they see that I am committed to the community, that I am faithfully observant, AND they learn that I believe in Yeshua, they will find it strange and may be even shocked, but once they know me as a person they may not reject me outright (I have an observant friend that went through exactly that - the rabbi told him that he was still a "good Jew" even if he believed in "Yoshke nonsense").

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  8. Wow! Thanks for the history lesson, Gene. You think I've been living under a rock? I may not be as wise as you, but I'm not gentile and I'm certainly not ignorant of the most important event(s) in our history. Next you'll tell me Yeshua was Jewish! There's too much to say about how silly you are.

    I never said stand up and shout, "Yeshua is Adonai!!" in Temple, did I? All I meant was that our desire to fellowship should (in absolutely no way) eclipse our submission to the will of G-d. We'd be no different than most Christians, otherwise. If we are asked to leave, it is an honor. It's sad and maybe absolutely heart-breaking, but persecution is all that and so much more.

    Yeshua told us that our own family will hate us for His name. How much closer are you to your family than to those at shul? I would wager much closer, but maybe I'm wrong. Either way, we needn't hide our belief in Messiah, no matter what you say. We don't have to shout it. I never said that, but we better not hide it. No matter how strong our yearning for kehila.

    Both of my only surviving grandparents have refused to talk to me for years because of Yeshua and it breaks my heart. They don't even know my daughter. So I know full well that it isn't exactly Prushim vs. Apostles any longer. Now it's grandchildren of Prushim versus grandchildren of Apostles versus grandchildren of Romans and they all think they know so much about the others.

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  9. "There's too much to say about how silly you are."

    Luke, my friend, you are way too easily offended and then you start throwing out insults - and for what gain? If you already knew all that I wrote, yasher koach - when I write and comment online it's not only for the benefit of the person I am replying to.

    "Yeshua told us that our own family will hate us for His name. How much closer are you to your family than to those at shul?"

    My family has accepted my belief in Yeshua long ago - they don't hate me and never have. It's not a hard and fast rule that EVERY not-yet-Yeshua-believing Jew or even most will hate you on account of him. I know of MANY personal stories of acceptance of Jewish believers by other Jews (and rabbis), including in traditional shuls. In the first century we read in Acts the Jewish followers of Yeshua were respected by "ALL the people" (Acts 2:47). So much for the hyperbola of being "hated by all".

    I also speak from personal experience of being a part of a traditional Jewish community. Many believers (especially Gentiles) online are gung-ho, idealistically talking about what OTHERS (namely Jewish believers) should be doing in a real flesh-and-blood Jewish community and how bold for Yeshua they should be, but few ever have to or choose to confront the reality themselves and live up to their own advice.

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  10. I know, Gene. You're always right. Never silly. I'm sorry that I hurt you. Next time I'll be certain to put a smiley face after "insults" (like you do) in hopes of getting my wit our there with none of the guile aftertaste. Would that be ok? :^)

    And I assumed your comments to me were directed towards me. I apologize. I didn't realize that they were for future civilizations that also might not realize that "this is not two thousand years ago". :^)

    Thanks for straightening me (and every other person who ever unintentionally engages you) out. Your nothing if not consistent. I never said anything like "hated by all" or whatever you're talking about, but yeah, hyperbola, blah.

    Also, your last paragraph is very silly. :^)

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  11. >> Next time I'll be certain to put a smiley face after "insults" (like you do) in hopes of getting my wit our there with none of the guile aftertaste. Would that be ok?

    :-D

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  12. "Now it's...grandchildren of Prushim versus grandchildren of Apostles"

    The ironic thing is that the present day Jewish followers of Yeshua are far more likely to be the "grandchildren of Prushim" than of any other group long extinct.

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  13. Getting back to the topic at hand, I don't think you should have to advertise or excuse yourself to anyone if you go into a synagogue to worship God, particularly if you're going with a family member.

    Over the long holiday, my family and I visited my parents in Utah. If, for some reason, we had been invited to attend my parents' church (they're Lutherans) and had gone, I don't think my wife would have found it necessary to take the Minister aside and say "I'm Jewish".

    The analogy is somewhat poor, but you get the idea.

    When my daughter was bat mitzvahed at the local Reform synagogue (about ten years ago), my parents attended as well as a number of my daughter's non-Jewish relatives and friends. Nothing bad happened as a result.

    In my case, since I'm considering attending the Reform and/or Chabad synagogues with my wife at some point *and* because there are people at both places who know me and know of my association with the Messianic/One Law congregation in town, I might need to pull the Rabbis aside and explain that I'm not there to stir the pot, so to speak but only to worship with my wife. However, that's quite a different story than an occasional visit.

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  14. There are times for confrontation, and there are times for peace. Most of the time, we should be content to simply be polite.

    If you know that something offends others, it isn't hiding if you are merely waiting until you are asked. The notion that just because you are a follower of Yeshua that you have be confrontational is a sad commentary on discipleship.

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  15. "The notion that just because you are a follower of Yeshua that you have be confrontational is a sad commentary on discipleship."

    Rick, well said.

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  16. "The notion that just because you are a follower of Yeshua that you have be confrontational is a sad commentary on discipleship."

    Excellent commentary.

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  17. "The notion that just because you are a follower of Yeshua that you have be confrontational is a sad commentary on discipleship."

    How true.

    Yak

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  18. I'm not trying to get racial, but just making an observation. The non-Jews here have had more of a "so-what-if-you're-persecuted" response. They don't feel the same type of rejection because its not their people or family. I've had Jewish strangers reject me for believing in Yeshua.. and Jewish relatives shun me as well. It always feels worse when its family, because they are closer to me.

    If non-Jewish strangers reject me for Yeshua, I don't really care as much as when Jewish strangers do, because, they are my own people. It hurts a bit more.

    My point here is to realize that people-hood matters, and it doesn't mystically become nothing when you believe in Yeshua. The closer you feel to someone, the more t heir opinion matters to you. Thats life.

    I understand what Rabbi Kinbar is saying. I have felt the same things. I usually wait until I have established some kind of relationship with someone before I let them know I'm a believer. its not an attempt to hide anything, but the realization that in the Jewish world, when you first meet people, you don'st start off by telling people what you do or don't believe. That comes later. - and in case you don't agree with what I have written..... I don't care... have a great Shabbat.

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  19. "They don't feel the same type of rejection because its not their people or family."

    Growing up in Ukraine I thought and felt that any Jew I met was literally my close relative, my uncle, aunt, brother, sister. Even when I was a child. The Jews in my town were all like a family - we all did things together, we knew each other's lives. These Jews had been through very much same experiences as me, and their family often looked, talked, and lived just like mine.

    That's why rejection from other Jews is especially painful. You have to be born into a Jewish family to understand that.

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  20. "I'm not trying to get racial, but just making an observation. The non-Jews here have had more of a "so-what-if-you're-persecuted" response. They don't feel the same type of rejection because its not their people or family."

    Hey Dr. Schiffman,
    I was wondering who you're referring to in the above comment. I hope it's me because I'm Jewish and I would like to discuss with you the folly of making "observations" about people of whom you know absolutely nothing.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

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  21. "because I'm Jewish"

    Luke, don't get so defensive. Lets clear thing up in a civilized manner. Is your mom Jewish and if so, were you raised as a Jew in a Jewish family?

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  22. No, my father was Jewish, Gene. I was adopted and raised in a Gentile home and didn't learn of my ancestry until my mom passed (very recently). Before you try to spin that into a comment on how "you have to be born into a Jewish family" to understand how painful rejection from other Jews can be, let me issue the same caution to you that I did to Dr. Schiffman about uninformed "observations" concerning those you don't know.

    Incidentally, it's not your place to tell me to not "get defensive" or to act "civilized". I have every right to express my views any way that I like. I haven't insulted Dr. Schiffman or yourself. At the risk of doing so, my comment was directed toward the Dr., not you. Despite the behavior you often exhibit here, this is not your blog.

    My original comment had less to do with my standing in the Jewish community and more to do with standing with my Messiah. What if Yeshua or Shaul put position in their communities before obedience to the Word of G-d? I am not ashamed of the Gospel. Period. Now, does that mean I must present it in a confrontational way? Does it mean it should be the first thing out of my mouth upon meeting someone? Of course not. I never said that and I've never done so.

    Reading over the comments again, I don't even understand how the "confrontational" aspect emerged as the element to decry here. Who said to storm the synagogues blasting "Jesus Freak"? It wasn't me. It's as though you (and others, apparently) scrolled right past my comment, which stated:

    "I never said stand up and shout, "Yeshua is Adonai!!" in Temple, did I? All I meant was that our desire to fellowship should (in absolutely no way) eclipse our submission to the will of G-d. We'd be no different than most Christians, otherwise. If we are asked to leave, it is an honor. It's sad and maybe absolutely heart-breaking, but persecution is all that and so much more. Yeshua told us that our own family will hate us for His name. How much closer are you to your family than to those at shul? I would wager much closer, but maybe I'm wrong. Either way, we needn't hide our belief in Messiah, no matter what you say. We don't have to shout it. I never said that, but we better not hide it. No matter how strong our yearning for kehila."

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  23. Luke, the important point to make here is that I am not "ashamed of the gospel" (and I am sure neither is Dr. Dr. Schiffman). What I am ashamed about, however, is what other people who too "were not ashamed of the gospel" did to my Jewish people in the name of that same gospel and Messiah (or so they thought). I don't want to be lumped together with them and the evil they inflicted on the Jews. It's that simple. I am not ashamed of Yeshua my Master - I know the truth about him and I held on to him tight for the last 15 years of my life through thick and thin, through rejection of my family (and their eventual acceptance).

    For our Jewish people the way Yeshua was presented to them and the way they were treated in his name is a huge obstacle. I don't blame my fellow Jews for rejecting the Jesus as Christianity has historically presented him to them, but that's the only Jesus they know.

    That why when you say: "If they kick us out, so what? It would be an honor, would it not?", I say, no - there will be no honor in that for me, only heartache.

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  24. "I don't blame my fellow Jews for rejecting...Jesus as Christianity has historically presented him... but that's the only Jesus they know."

    You've hit it right on the head, Gene. That's the whole point. I don't blame Jews for rejecting Messiah as He has historically been presented, either. And, like you, I have no desire to be "lumped in" with the errant teaching and atrocious legacy of the "Church". But "that's the only Jesus they know", right? So how do we fix that? By keeping silent for fear of being "lumped in" or losing our non-believing Jewish acquaintances?

    I don't want to assume things about you as others have about me, so let me ask you, do you believe it's at least partly our job to attempt (as best we can) to repair the damage done in the name of "Jesus" in the minds of Jewish People? If so, how is that best accomplished?

    You know full well the plan of the enemy, don't you? Simply stated, The People Israel cannot believe in, call upon, or be redeemed by Mashiach no matter what. Now, the "Church" has done an amazing job with phase one over the centuries by stripping Yeshua of His Jewishness in the minds of the Jewish People with one hand while slaughtering them with the other. Phase two could very well be persuading the "Church" (the new, non-crusading one) to drive the wedge between Yeshua and Israel even further by completely ignoring the Jewish People in all its official Kingdom business. And before you say that you know churches that are different. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the other 98%.

    Will phase 3 of the plan necessitate our unwillingness to reach out to our unbelieving brothers and sisters for fear of possible "heartache"?

    To alter the fan-favorite that Rick wrote:

    "The notion that just because you are a follower of Yeshua you should think twice before publicly identifying with Him for fear of possibly offending your non-believing Jewish friends (or being asked to leave the synagogue) is a sad commentary on discipleship."

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  25. Luke, my observation still stands. Your father was Jewish, but you were adopted and raised in a gentile home, where you didn't even know about your Jewish ancestry until your mom passed. DNA with no social, cultural, familial connections gives you ZERO Jewish understanding.

    I have a close friend who's father was Jewish, and his mother was Italian, but she converted to Judaism when they got married. My friend was raised Jewish, totally unconnected from his Italian family. He just can't walk into a Knights of Columbus meeting and say "Hey Paizanne's .. here I am." No one would recognize him as Italian.

    You may have Jewish DNA in you, but you are dispassionate regarding Jewish people, because you never had a real connection with them, which was my original point.

    Before you correct people regarding the "folly of making uninformed observations," be careful that the informing doesn't yet support the observation. My observation stands.

    I hope you are able to connect in a meaningful way with Jewish people if you haven't begun to do so already. (If you so desire).

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  26. My observation about you still stands, as well, Doc - except mine is well-informed. How arrogant you are, Michael. How very arrogant, insensitive and ignorant. I'm sorry to say those things about you, but they are overwhelmingly obvious.

    You wrote, "You may have Jewish DNA in you, but you are dispassionate regarding Jewish people, because you never had a real connection with them, which was my original point."

    You have no earthly idea who I am! My entire life is dedicated to the Jewish people. My Jewish wife, daughter and I have attended our synagogue for years (where I have made countless "real connections" with Am Israel, served in multiple ministries and outreaches to our Jewish community here in Florida (in no way different from your work in Chevra, besides geographically), spent years building relationships with the non-believing members of my family and even blog about the issues affecting Israel, the MJ world and the Church - in hopes of restoring the ties between us all.

    It is inconceivable that you, a Rabbi, could pretend to know someone from 2 or 3 comments about a controversial topic. I would be absolutely mortified if my Rabbi exhibited even a shred of the audacity you have. You should be utterly ashamed of your pride and delusional superiority.

    But if I know you, you aren't.
    "Chevra" indeed.

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  27. "didn't learn of my ancestry until my mom passed (very recently)."

    Luke, I like you - you are good guy, and you seem to be very sincere. But, until "very recently" you, self-admittedly, were not even aware of having even some possible biologic connection to the Jewish people, much less having been born in an actual flesh-and-blood Jewish family or having Jewish parents or being Jewish according to any Jewish standard (even the liberal Reform require children of Jewish fathers to be actually raised Jewish).

    Having a life "dedicated to the Jewish people" doesn't make you Jew. If that was so, then all the Gentile missionaries to the Jews could claim this much as well.

    Being involved in a messianic congregation doesn't make you "Jewish" either nor does being "observant" or sympathetic to the Jewish people. Many Gentiles in the Messianic Movement make this mistake and the Jewish leadership of some congregations has made a great disservice to everyone by not enforcing existing halachic standards of Jewishness. Even finding out that you may have some Jewish biologic connection doesn't automatically make you a Jew or Jewish. The mixed Samaritans (2 Kings 17:24) too claimed Jacob as their father (John 4:12), which Yeshua didn't deny, but Yeshua still didn't count them as Jews/Israelites (Matthew 10:5-6) because they simple were not.

    I hope you find yourself.

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  28. Hey Gene. Thanks for liking me. It means the world.

    I didn't write any of that to prove to you or anyone else I was Jewish. I couldn't care less what you think of me. I only wrote it because of Michael's completely ignorant comment: "you are dispassionate regarding Jewish people, because you never had a real connection with them"

    Understand?

    By the way, I "found myself" long ago, when I found Yeshua, but I sincerely hope you and Michael are able to find sensitivity, compassion, and some semblance of the love that Yeshua showed to others, whether they be Jews, by your standards, or merely righteous Gentiles in your eyes - and I mean that. You two are a class act.

    So long as thanks for all the silliness. :^)

    Love, Luke the Jewtile

    *****************************

    Hey Judah, I just wanted to let you know that while I love your blog (and will continue to read it), I will no longer be commenting because of the embarrassing behavior exhibited by these two "brothers" in the faith. They shame Messiah with their elitist views and ignorant behavior. I apologize for saying so, but I would rather discuss real issues with the Haredim, who treat me with more respect, on Rosh Pina than be subjected to the hateful antics of this newly formed pedigree patrol. I hope you understand. Thanks, Brother. ~ Luke (born: Moses Myers, believe it or not - Ha!)

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  29. Luke, my observation still stands. Your father was Jewish, but you were adopted and raised in a gentile home, where you didn't even know about your Jewish ancestry until your mom passed. DNA with no social, cultural, familial connections gives you ZERO Jewish understanding.

    Dr. Schiffman, let me tell you a story and you tell me what you think.

    My wife's mother was Jewish (she died many years ago) but back in the early 1940s, she had a falling out with her family and left them, joining the Marines. She served in WWII and on a blind date in San Francisco at the end of the war, she met my wife's father, a non-Jew. Eventually they married and had five kids together. My wife's Mom never once mentioned being Jewish or tried to raise her children in any of the traditions. My wife's father was not-religious so they raised their children in a completely secular manner.

    My mother-in-law's relatives did visit, since a number of them lived in Southern California where my wife was born and raised. Every Friday, my wife's aunt would bring over treats for the kids and visit on many other occasions. My wife, as a child, knew she had Jewish aunts, uncles, and cousins, but didn't make the connection about her mother or her.

    My wife went away to college eventually and her dorm mate was Jewish. They got to taking and figured out that if her Mom's brothers and sisters and cousins were Jewish, then her Mom was Jewish, making my wife Jewish.

    My wife confirmed this with her Mom and eventually did the research to confirm her Jewish heritage (this is really a much longer story, but I'm trying to keep it compressed).

    Eventually, my wife married me (a non-Jew). She talked about approaching a Rabbi and raising the learning more about Judaism, but she was afraid of being discriminated against because she wasn't raised Jewish. For my part, I had no problem with her pursuing a life in Judaism and even raising our kids Jewish, but it was her decision to either proceed or hold back. Sadly, feelings of inadequacy and doubt kept her from following through.

    Finally, 10 to 12 years or so ago, she connected with the local Reform community, began taking classes, started making friends, and started worshiping with them. When the Chabad came to our little part of the world, she met with them and has since become fast friends with the Rabbi, his wife, and their children.

    She's made a great effort to integrate into the Jewish community and to re-order her thinking, habits, and lifestyle to be more consistent with being Jewish. She's the only one of her siblings to do so.

    Sorry for the rant, but when I see a Jewish person play the "you're not Jewish because you weren't raised Jewish from birth" card, and I compare that to the journey of spiritual, cultural, and ethnic discovery my wife has been taking, I get a little miffed.

    I don't know about Luke or anyone else in a similar position, but I do know my wife and she's Jewish, Dr. Schiffman. Unfortunately, it was her fear of attitudes like yours that kept her from seeking out her heritage 25 years ago.

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  30. "They shame Messiah with their elitist views and ignorant behavior. I apologize for saying so, but I would rather discuss real issues with the Haredim, who treat me with more respect"

    Look Luke, so far it's you who have been throwing around one biting sarcasm after another and calling people one hurtful epithet after the other, all in a space of a few comments (e.g. "arrogant, insensitive, ignorant, elitist, hateful, embarrassing, shame Messiah" and by inference in the last comment, "insensitive, uncompassionate, and unloving"), not I or Dr. Schiffman. I hope you take some spiritual accounting of your attitude, to see whether or not the words you use point right back at you. Be well.

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  31. "I don't know about Luke or anyone else in a similar position, but I do know my wife and she's Jewish, Dr. Schiffman. Unfortunately, it was her fear of attitudes like yours that kept her from seeking out her heritage 25 years ago."

    That wasn't the point at all, James. Besides your wife actually growing up WITH her Jewish mother and being born to a Jewish mother (making her Jewish according to Jewish law), the issue here is the attitude toward the Jewish people and perception of one's place within the Jewish people. Had your wife, who IS Jewish halachically, never re-approached the Jewish community in the way she did, she too would have never even begin to understand what it means to be Jewish and would be just as dispassionate about other Jews as any non-Jew. May be your wife is STILL on that journey to understand right now and still learning to relate to the Jewish people that didn't grow up around. Even so, at this stage, she may still find it hard to relate to other Jews.

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  32. James, before we get away on the tangent, remember Luke's original comment "If they kick us out, so what? It would be an honor, would it not? And why do we need to be there so badly?"

    Did your wife have the same "so what?" and "why do we need to be there so badly?" attitude in regards to the Jewish community that she willingly entered? This sort of attitude is a result, in part, of not having a "peoplehood" connection to the Jewish people. THAT's the key difference, my friend. Let's focus on that part instead of the totally unrelated subject of what R. Schiffman or my own attitude towards standards of Jewishness is or should be.

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  33. OK, Gene. I see you're point, but I wanted to point that a Jewish person, even one who wasn't raised in a traditionally Jewish home, can learn to love Judaism, love, the Jewish people deeply, and to learn to love being Jewish. A Jew isn't automatically invalidated just because they weren't raised by two Jewish parents in an ethnically, culturally, and religiously Jewish home, which is what Dr. Schiffman seemed to be saying (and I'd be more than happy to clear the air with him directly rather than discussing it by proxy).

    Actually, I've seen the shift in my wife's attitudes and thought processes over time. Just yesterday she was lecturing me (very kindly, of course) about how differently Jews think about things vs. a non-Jewish thought process. She was a tad upset over a person who had recently been made chair of the Ritual Committee at the local reform shul because that person hadn't been raised Jewish (plus, his father is Jewish but not his mother). She also disqualifies herself from such a role for similar reasons and, like you and Dr. Schiffman, says that there is no replacement for having a completely lived Jewish experience from birth. Her attitudes are not unlike your own (or Dr. Schiffman's for that matter) in this case, ironically enough.

    Perhaps I was being a bit harsh, but Jews have been "lost" through many circumstances such as the one my wife was raised in and (imagine me saying this) by intermarriage with non-Jews. I regret deeply that we didn't become involved in synagogue life before my children were born or at least when they were young. While my children all self-identify as Jews, I could have hoped that their connection to cultural and religious Jewish life might have been stronger, and as for my own life, who knows?

    However, life is what it is and here we are. I just have a hard time when I see, on the one hand, some elements of the Jewish (online) community complaining about how Jews are assimilating into secular or Christian culture, and on the other hand (and practically in the same breath) saying that they only believe a person is Jewish if they were raised in a traditional Jewish home. You can't always have it both ways.

    My wife is accepted as a Jew in both the Reform and Chabad communities without reservation. While Dr. Schiffman's intent wasn't directed at my wife, it was still an attitude that many people like her fear when they try to enter into a relationship with their own people. I suspect Messianic Judaism may be more sensitive to these issues because of the spectre of One Law and Two-House. but is that an excuse to dismiss some Jewish people out of hand because of their history? One of the reasons I'm distancing myself from the "Messianic" label is because of such issues. How Jews and non-Jews are supposed to relate to each other let along to the Jewish Messiah and to God is becoming increasingly muddy. Did God really make it so hard to be a person of faith?

    My wife is Jewish. I'm a Christian who is drawn to the teaching and the wisdom Judaism has to offer. I am not trying to claim to be someone I'm not and I don't want this to be more complicated than it has to be. If my wife relates to God as a Jew and I relate to God as whoever I happen to be (and I'm still trying to figure that out since I know I don't belong in a church singing "Onward Christian Soldier" every Sunday), where is the harm?

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  34. "is that an excuse to dismiss some Jewish people out of hand because of their history?"

    James, first of all, having some Jewish DNA floating in one's blood doesn't automatically make a person "Jewish" - it's a bit more complicated than that as I am sure you know. Being Jewish is more than a biologic connection discovered later in life or even from the very beginning, otherwise Ezra would not have sent away Gentile wives with their children fathered by Jewish men, or the mixed Samaritans would gave been as Jewish as Yeshua. That's a complex subject for another time and, perhaps, for another blog post.

    However, I agree with you, James, we should definitely not be dismissive of any Jewish person just because they grew up in non-observant Jewish families or their Jewish parents didn't give them proper Jewish education. That would cover most Jews in the world today! Then again, to go back to my original point regarding not relating to other Jewish people as one's own, that's not what we are discussing here, are we?

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  35. @Gene: Addendum: After all that, I realized I didn't address your main point. Yes, it would be hard to call yourself Jewish and at the same time disdain for the Jewish community and Jewish people. I'm also saying that a person doesn't have to be born and raised to it. People can change, learn, and grow.

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  36. shlomovich and schiffman aren't Jewish either according to Jewish Law since they believe in J anyway. if you want to quote the Law. oops! in that case you're all crazy xstians.

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  37. "shlomovich and schiffman aren't Jewish either according to Jewish Law since they believe in J anyway. if you want to quote the Law. oops! in that case you're all crazy xstians."

    Anonymous (most likely a "One-Law" devotee), by saying the above you demonstrate that you are totally ignorant of the Jewish Law, which says:

    "Even if [Israel] sins, he is still Israel." (Talmud, Sanhedrin 44a:)

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  38. Luke, You are right, I don't know you, and I didn't pretend that I did. I merely worked off your own comments about yourself. That hardly makes me ignorant or arrogant. If you knew me, you would know I am far from being an arrogant person, but don't worry, I won't accuse you of the things you falsely accuse me. Maybe you are a fine person, but after making accusations about me, as well as insensitive remarks, and lack of any kindness, I don't think I would care to know you.

    If you had bothered to ask me, you would have found out that I encourage people of Jewish ancestry to reconnect with their Jewish heritage. If you asked, you would have found out that I am not against you and the background you have in regards to the Jewish people. I picked up on an "us" and "them" reasoning in your argument that seemed to be negative regarding the Jewish people at large, and thats what I was commenting on, If that makes me ignorant, maybe it was because I was reading what you wrote.

    You hurl accusations at me, and call me insensitive and uncaring. Funny about that.

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  39. Anonymous claims Gene and I are not Jewish because we believe in Yeshua. Coming from someone who hides behind the name anonymous makes his or her words meaningless. If he knew the halacha, he would know his words are untrue.

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  40. James, Are you reacting to an attitude of mine, or the attitude I am being mis-characterized by Luke?

    The fact is, I not now or have ever had a problem with people with Jewish background re-connecting with their Jewish heritage... I encourage it!

    The point I was trying to make earlier was that just because a person studies about Judaism doesn't fill in that gap. There needs to be real socialization with Jewish people. Simply reading about Jews won't give that. If a person lives works and worships with Jews they would be more apt to be more sensitive and passionate about Jewish people and values. Apparently that message became lost in the personal sensitivities expressed.

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  41. James, Are you reacting to an attitude of mine, or the attitude I am being mis-characterized by Luke?

    Your statement (which I previously quoted), could be interpreted as "you're not Jewish if you weren't raised Jewish", but in re-reading your blog comments and those made by Gene in moderating your position, I can see that they can be taken differently than I originally perceived.

    The point I was trying to make earlier was that just because a person studies about Judaism doesn't fill in that gap. There needs to be real socialization with Jewish people. Simply reading about Jews won't give that. If a person lives works and worships with Jews they would be more apt to be more sensitive and passionate about Jewish people and values. Apparently that message became lost in the personal sensitivities expressed.

    Thanks for the clarification. I won't repeat my description of my wife's history (I assume you read it earlier, anyway), but comparing that to what you just said, she is Jewish, both halachaly and socially.

    If I'm guilty of "personal sensitivities", I'll accept the label. I've certainly stepped on my fair share of toes since entering the "Messianic blogosphere" and I've gotten mine mashed flat from time to time. Consider though, that the door could well swing both ways.

    In a sense, I'm glad my wife isn't Messianic. She's accepted as a Jew in both of the synagogues in town (this is Boise, there are only so many Jews here...don't judge). She was part of all that once upon a time, but the whole "who's a Jew" question finally drove her and several other halachaly and socially/ethnically Jewish people out of MJ (this was while I was on hiatus from the movement some years ago). It's just as well. She really needs to be connected with people are Jewish and who live a Jewish life and not have to contend with all of the clutter MJ/OL stirs up.

    These little disagreements have been a major prompt for me to seek God elsewhere. I don't want to hurt anyone or get in anyone else's way, but the "mess" in "Messianic" makes it more difficult to have a spiritual life within this social context. I consider some of the people in this blogosphere to be my friends and hope we can continue our relationships, but I can't consider myself formally part of MJ/OL/whatever anymore. There's no peace.

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  42. what do you xstians think of Moses? no one more Jewish than him. wait he was raised egyptian until he was 80! the opposite of being raised Jewish. that makes you dudes more Jewish than Moses! mazel tov!

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  43. what do you xstians think of Moses? no one more Jewish than him. wait he was raised egyptian until he was 80! the opposite of being raised Jewish. that makes you dudes more Jewish than Moses! mazel tov!

    And Anonymous trolls need to get a life.

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  44. "what do you xstians think of Moses? no one more Jewish than him. wait he was raised egyptian until he was 80! the opposite of being raised Jewish. that makes you dudes more Jewish than Moses! mazel tov!"

    The only problem for you is scripture. There we read that Miriam (Moses's Jewish sister) arranged for their Jewish mother, Yocheved (that is mother of both Moses AND Miriam), to nurse Moses and raise him (Ex. 2:7-9), and only when Moses was older (it doesn't say how old Moses was - he may have been in his teens for all we know) did she take him to Pharaoh's daughter to be groomed as an Egyptian prince (which we read in Hebrews 11:24 that he refused to be known as). There's no reason to believe that Mirian (who later accompanied Moses out of Egypt) ever lost contact with her brother.

    Also, Moses was not 80(!) but 40 years old when he defended s fellow Jew from Egyptian abuse. (Ex. 2:14-15)

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  45. James, I have found you to be fair and honest in your comments. I have never found you to be objectionable, and your responses are usually kind. I was referring to someone else as having mischaracterized my words. That person started off by telling me I was ignorant. Rather than name calling, he could have just as well said that I didn't have all the information and then given me that information, but he had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to accuse me of arrogance and ignorance, without even knowing me or giving me a chance. I don't usually get into discussions with people like that. It's immature and inhibits genuine dialogue on an issue.

    I do apologize to Judah. Its not my intention to bring bitterness and strife in any discussion, and certainly not on this blog.

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  46. Fair enough, Dr. Schiffman. I probably went off half-cocked.

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  47.  Dr. Schiffman said...
    "...someone who hides behind the name anonymous makes his or her words meaningless."

    Anonymity is what keeps my comments at face value. Take them for what they are worth.

    My intent is to keep my ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, photo, etc private so those aspects of me do not become diversionary responses from the topic at hand.

    But, I do sign my name (so you may know which anonymous I am),

    Yak

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  48. "My intent is to keep my ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, photo, etc private so those aspects of me do not become diversionary responses from the topic at hand."

    Well, you are doing a terrible job of it!:) Let's see:

    1) Caucasian
    2) Male
    3) Gentile
    5) American
    4) Over 30
    5) One-Law
    6) Probably went to a Pentecostal church at one point
    7) Most likely lives somewhere in the South (Judah can probably pinpoint the city from IP address).

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  49. Going off topic on personalities is a slippery slope. I see I erred in sharing a personal awareness because Mr Shlomovich went further off-topic, attempting to analyze me.

    Based on your assumptions, Mr Shlomovich, you demonstrate that you did not receive revelations from the Holy Spirit, so they are of your vain imaginations... or a spirit of error.

    You truly do not know me or of me. Luke is right.

    Yak

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  50. Yak, lighten up, will you. Judging by your reaction I am willing to bet that my analysis of you was more ON the mark than off. I don't interact with "topics", I interact with people and personalities and who you are tells me much about your views. If a person, to use a hypothetical example (not you), tells me that "all Jews are lying conniving bastards that want to take over the world", there's a good change that that person is not a Jew himself (simple analysis). Knowing that little tidbit, while certainly may be outside of a topic, sure comes in handy when answering that particular person.

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  51. At the risk of spamming Judah's blog, I wrote this missive this morning, in part due to some of the less gracious comments made here: Candle in Obsidian. The community of faith has a difficult time reflecting the light of the world.

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  52. "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you."
    Psalm 22:22

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Husband, dad, disciple of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, technologist. Author of Chavah Messianic Radio, MessianicChords, and EtzMitzvot. @judahgabriel


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