There seems to be a common thread in many of the letters published on December 19 (“Readers weigh in on the matter of Messianic Jews”).
Each seems to express that being a Jew is tied solely to the religion of Judaism, which today is identified as rabbinic Judaism.
This is the great fallacy of the argument. Religion does not solely make one a Jew. If that were true, we as a people would be cutting our numbers in half simply because so many Jews in the world were non-observant, atheistic or had adopted another faith altogether.
Probably 70% of today’s Israeli Jews never set foot in a synagogue, do not adhere to the opinions of rabbis and have no connection with the faith of rabbinic Judaism. They do, however, celebrate the holidays. Many even observe Shabbat.
All are connected to the biblical rituals of brit mila (circumcision) and bar mitzva.
From that end, Messianic Jews are no different.
So why are we being held to a higher standard? We, too, are connected to those rituals, observe Shabbat, celebrate the holidays and are proud of our heritage.
The notion that being a Jew is solely proven through the observance of rabbinical Judaism is both erroneous and prejudicial. Being Jewish is being part of a people. This can never change, nor can it be eradicated by those who would seek to tie the people exclusively to the faith.
Jewish people, for years, have been known to be champions of justice and those who passionately fight prejudice no matter what kind. Yet there is a significant segment of discrimination and prejudice that is going on right in our own backyard, and it is in the form of tremendous ignorance on the part of those who state that the Jewish faith is the same as the Jewish people.
They are not! Each is a separate entity and must remain so. Otherwise, your own personal thoughts and beliefs could be up for questioning as to whether or not you are truly part and parcel of the Jewish people.
Lastly, the claim that all Messianic Jews are missionaries is also born of ignorance. This certainly doesn’t hold true for many of us who are neither missionaries nor associated with missionary activities. Such accusations need to finally be put to rest because they are false and actually libelous! All of this is a flimsy way to try to prevent truthful discussion from taking place. But even more importantly, it is a shame to Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, to openly and brazenly discriminate against part of its own natural- born people simply for rejecting rabbinic Judaism, which is basically little more than the multiple opinions of different men, many of whom could not even agree with one another! NAME WITHHELD
The justifications produced in these letters by Messianic Jews and Jews for Jesus are specious when they cite personal belief as not being a potential hindrance to acceptance for aliya. The Jewish Agency’s reaction to Messianic Jews is identical to its reaction even to the sons of famous rabbis who are supporters of Hamas.
Thank you, but no thank you. It’s that simple. It is not merely a matter of personal beliefs. Both wish to destroy authentic Jews and Judaism and should not be allowed to immigrate here.STANLEY COHEN
I would agree with reader Michael Kaplan, who wrote: “Messianic Jews are no less Jews than Reform, Conservative or secular humanist Jews.”
However, what I conclude from this is that the latter, though possibly of Jewish ethnic origin, are not adherents of Judaism as historically understood.
It is their agitation for “pluralism” in the Jewish religion that opens the possibility for the “Messianic Jews” to claim equal authenticity.
On a completely separate point, reader Edmund Jonah translates Jesus’s “last words on the cross” as “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I believe the correct translation should be “My God, my God, why have you sacrificed me?” Contrary to Mr. Jonah’s claim, these words do not imply that Jesus realized his mission was a failure – he himself did believe in a crucified messiah as an atonement for the original sin of Adam and Eve, something completely at variance with traditional Jewish teaching.
MARTIN D. STERN
Although I’m not Jewish, I do attend a Messianic congregation here in Israel. And no, I’m not a missionary.
If the Israeli government can override people’s belief and tell them they are deluded in wanting to call themselves Jewish, then surely it follows that the world government (i.e., the United Nations) can override Israel’s belief and tell it that it’s deluded in wanting to call Jerusalem its capital.
In the one hand, Israel and many Israelis jump up and down and say to Messianic Jews that they can’t decide for themselves, while on the other hand, Israel and many Israelis jump up and down and say to the world that it can’t decide for us.
Jews are always complaining about double standards yet they apply them when they see fit. Isn’t that hypocrisy? Actually, it’s a triple standard when you consider that believing in Buddha, Communism or anything – and even nothing – is acceptable. It’s only believing in Yeshua that’s the problem.BOB KNIGHT
I welcome reader Terri Morey’s letter (“An absurdity to be challenged,” December 18) and the reactions it has provoked. Yet there are two key reasons, religious and legal, why Messianic Jews are not Jews.
Foremost is their belief in the divinity of Jesus as the son of God and one person of the Trinity.
The one Jewish God is abstract and invisible (Exodus 33:20). Belief in anything physical, animate or inanimate, is impossible for Jews to accept. Also, from Exodus 4:22 we learn from God that “Israel is My son,” not Jesus.
Previous letter writers have already pointed out the several false messiahs. For the record, Jesus’s messianic credentials are lacking in not even having the proper pedigree of the House of David.
The two genealogies in the New Testament tracing Joseph (the alleged father of Jesus) to King David are irrelevant because the needed ancestry of the virgin mother is unknown. And of course, calling someone “Messiah,” “Saviour” or “Yeshua” does not make him one.
As to the reference in Isaiah 53:10, this person lived a long life and had physical children, which Jesus did not have.
The separation between Jews and the followers of Jesus (Nazarenes) was not first legally decreed by Israeli or Jewish laws. Rather, it was at the Nicaea Council in 325 CE where the Nazarenes became a separate religion and no longer were allowed to pray in synagogues. Also, a law was enacted making conversion to Judaism punishable by death.
Subsequently, Jews suffered dreadful afflictions at the hands of Jesus’s followers. How and why any self-respecting Jew would want to join our persecutors is incomprehensible.
In spite of tremendous adversity, many forcefully converted Jews (anusim) managed through many generations to preserve their Jewish traditions and beliefs – without Jesus! – and finally are returning to their roots. This is truly a profound measure of Jewish strength.
Finally, I am glad that Messianic Jews are good citizens of Israel. I hope they can inspire others to be the same.ALFRED INSELBERG
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