Here I am at the delegates’ meeting at the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations conference (umjc.net).
It is a somber day for a meeting. I’m not sure whose fault it is that we are meeting on Tisha B’Av, the day of commemorating the destruction of both temples, one in 586 B.C.E. and the other in 70 C.E. It doesn’t seem an appropriate day to have a meeting.
Further, what is the stance of UMJC leaders regarding the observance of a traditional day as Tisha B’Av? How Jewish is the Union in practice? I’m guessing from observation that about half of the leaders here observe it and half don’t. Fifty percent is better than zero, but we have a long way to go.
Since Tisha B’Av is not an observance directly commanded in Torah, why follow it? We follow it because we are Jews (or, in my case and many others, non-Jews who have joined with Israel as God-fearers or proselytes). To be with Israel means to stand with Israel on matters of tradition as well as Torah. To refuse to fast on Tisha B’Av on the grounds that it is not in Torah makes a statement.
What statement are Messianic Jewish leaders making when Tisha B’Av is ignored? For some, it says, “I am for Torah but I do not identify with the Jewish people.”
There are many who came into Messianic Judaism because of a romantic attraction to the lifestyle of the Torah: the beauty of God’s calendar, the sanctity of the Sabbath, and the physicality of the dietary law. Some are blatant about this, such as the Hebrew Roots movement. They say, “When we accepted Yeshua we were grafted in and Torah became ours.” For this crowd, Jewish identity is almost of no importance. Others, such as my colleagues here at the UMJC who are not observing Tisha B’Av would seem to have a higher view of Israel’s role, but strangely feel free to ignore important traditions.
Twice in history the temple of the Almighty was destroyed. Jewry observes this on Tisha B’Av. Let’s grow as a movement and decide what we stand for. Are we a Torah movement only or a Jewish movement? Why wear a yarmulke or proclaim yourself Jewish and eat on the day Jews are mourning and fasting? Come to think of it, why have a delegates’ meeting on such a day? I am guilty of going along with this and I hope our movement will do better in years to come.
Tomorrow, more delegates’ meetings and the conference itself begins. I’m sure some interesting debates and topics will come up, so stay tuned.