Are 'Messianic Jews' Jews?

If you really want to be Jews, stop deceiving yourselves and seriously consider returning to the Jewish fold

July 13, 2018 14:37
An illustration by Pepe Fainberg of Messainic Jews

An illustration by Pepe Fainberg of Messainic Jews. (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)


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So-called “Messianic Jews” including “Jews for Jesus” have recently become quite vocal, writing letters to newspapers and appearing in public demanding that the State of Israel recognize them as Jews and grant them all the rights that Jews receive here, including especially automatic citizenship under the Law of Return. Does this upsurge have anything to do with the way in which Israel has recently aligned itself so closely with Christian evangelical groups such as the “Friends of Zion” and the American evangelicals who played an important role in the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem and were therefore so prominent in the ceremony celebrating that event? Perhaps, but I am not certain since the last thing these “Messianic Jews” want is to be called Christians. Unfortunately for them, according to Jewish Law “Messianic Jews” are actually Christians no matter what they say although they have an entirely different status in Jewish Law from born Christians: they are apostate Jews who have become Christians through adopting a belief in Jesus as the messiah (Christ) and a god.

There is a difference between a born Christian and a Jew who adopts Christianity. At least since the Middle Ages most Jewish authorities have adopted a positive attitude toward both Christians and Muslims. In the terminology created by the Meiri, the great scholar of Provence, (Menahem ben Solomon, 1249-1316), they are "nations governed by religion." Unlike paganism, their religion was recognized as genuine and legitimate (Bet haBehirah to Bava Kamma 37b). In the words of Louis Jacobs, "To all intents and purposes Meiri has created a third category, unknown in the earlier sources, between Jews and pagans. For Meiri, Christians were certainly not Jews, but they were not pagans either" (Judaism and Theology, Louis Jacobs, London 2005, page 105).


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