Messianic Judaism

A sect of Christianity with some Jewish practices.

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Missionary Activity

A core component of Messianic Judaism is witnessing and missionizing to other Jews. According to the evangelical theology accepted by Messianic Jews, those who are not saved are destined for eternal damnation. Helping to bring someone to Yeshua and thus to salvation is a responsibility of all Messianic Jews, and many embrace that role, particularly when it comes to Jewish members of their family. This is often at the root of the animosity between Messianic and mainstream Jewish communities.

When Messianic Jews try to do outreach within the mainstream Jewish community they are often met with resistance and outrage. Among other things, the Jewish community objects to the title Messianic Judaism, because the messianism practiced by Messianic Jews is Jesus-focused, and thus by definition not Jewish. The use of the term Messianic Judaism strikes many as a subversive way of attracting Jews who do not know enough about their faith to realize that what they are learning about is Christianity.

Foremost among the groups that work to counter Messianic Jewish evangelism is Jews for Judaism, an organization focused on strengthening and preserving Jewish identity for those who have been targeted for proselytizing by Messianic Jews.

Messianic Jewish Communities Today

There is a growing community of Messianic Jews in Israel, particularly in the village of Yad-Hashmona. Many of the Messianic Jews in Israel are native Israelis who came to Messianic Judaism as teens or adults.

In a ruling handed down by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1989, Messianic Jews are not allowed citizenship in Israel via the Law of Return because there is a condition on the Law of Return that it cannot be employed by those who were Jews and voluntarily took on another faith. However, in 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in a strange legal twist that because the Law of Return is granted to anyone with one Jewish grandparent, Messianic Jews who are not considered halakhically Jewish (i.e. their mother is not Jewish) are granted citizenship via the Law of Return.

Messianic Jewish prayer services include much of the traditional Jewish liturgy, often edited and amended to include references to Yeshua. Hebrew is common in Messianic Jewish congregations, and there is a growing trend towards including dance in their services. The dances are in the spirit of Israeli folk dancing.

Today, there are an estimated 400 Messianic Jewish congregations worldwide, with 10,000-15,000 Messianic Jews in Israel, and about 200,000 in the United States. Congregations (called synagogues) can be found across the country, mainly in communities with a large existing Jewish community.
 

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Tamar Fox

Tamar Fox is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. Her children's book, No Baths at Camp, was published in 2013 by Kar-Ben, and her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, Tablet Magazine, TheJewniverse.com, and many other publications.