Menachem’s Responses and My Thoughts

Shalom all. Well, hasn’t this been an interesting thread. I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to weigh in. Tirzah has an interesting story: married to an anti-missionary who was formerly a Messianic Jew. It seems that the experience has given her a negative view of Judaism and, I must say, of Messianic Judaism. Menachem is a Messianic Jew who loves Yeshua, but finds the Orthodox synagogue a more serious place to worship God. ***Menachem, you are the person I met and spent time with at the New England conference, right?***

Tirzah, whose position I understand because of her life experience, has said some rather harsh things about Judaism and completely opposes my decision to pursue conversion through a Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council. Menachem, whose position I also understand, having seen a lot of meshugas that is called Messianic Judaism, also thinks I should not pursue conversion through Messianic Judaism, but through one of the traditional branches.

In this post, I’d like to take some of Menachem’s responses and discuss them. I invite you to chime in (hopefully no personal attacks). Perhaps in the very near future, I can post a biblical defense of conversion with attendant practical issues considered.

First, Tirzah said:

Modern Rabbinic Judaism HATES Yeshua.

Menachem responded:

Let’s start with this one. Its a slur and totally without any foundation. I hear it and read it often in conversation with MJ “leaders” Let’s be honest. There is no Christian leader out there who would dare to say this publically thank G-d any more.

My thoughts: I appreciate Menachem’s viewpoint here. My own experience is skewed. I have not been in the traditional Jewish community sufficiently to get into conversation about Yeshua in a neutral setting. My experiences in conversation about Yeshua with religious Jews have often been with anti-missionaries, like Torzah’s husband. I am aware, however, that the Talmud’s very late teaching that Yeshua was a bastard child of a Roman soldier and a Jewish woman, is not commonly held by the Jews I have talked with. In fact, I am aware of a rather positive view of Yeshua in the Jewish community, as long as we’re not talking about whether or not he is Messiah. Now, this may be mostly liberal Jews, but there are also Orthodox Jews who in writing have positive things to say about Yeshua: Michael Wyschogrod and Pinchas Lapide.

Tirzah said:

The truth is that Rabbinic Judaism is not “G-d” centered. It is “Jew” centered.

Menachem responded:

Again, this is a very serious and untrue charge. It has not been my experience. In point of fact I have experienced and observed more G-d centeredness in rabbinic Judaism than in MJ. There is clearly an unhealthy emphasis througout MJ and Christianity on a variety of practices which an observant Jew would find not G-d centered.

My thoughts: If the Jewish people don’t talk about issues surround the Jewish people, who will? Sorry, Tirzah, but I agree with Menachem here. Rabbinic Judaism is very God-centered. Many Christians would be surprised to hear the teaching or read the writings of Judaism. I can hardly think of someone more God-centered than Abraham Joshua Heschel, for example.

Tirzah said:

Rabbinic Judaism also teachs that G-d is basically unknowable in any sort intimate way that believers in Yeshua know can be true.

Menachem responded:

This is the view of Maimonides. It is influential but hardly all of Rabbinic Judaism.

My thoughts: Tirzah, Judaism has many opinions about God and many approaches. Yes, there is a stream of teaching that human language and conceptualization cannnot know the infinite God. You should know this is found in liberal Christianity also. But so much of Judaism is about knowing God intimately. I think this may be an emphasis at your synagogue. Your synagogue is Conservative and it can sometimes be quite liberal. As a great example of the converse, may I suggest the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov?

Tirzah said:

Modern Rabbinic Judaism as a whole also embraces so much that is extra-biblical and that often takes precidence over the clear teaching of Torah.

Menachem responded:

Hmmm. Precisely my observations about much of MJ. Especially the Charismatic “apostolic stream” variety.

My thoughts: Yes, Tirzah, there is quite a bit that is extrabiblical in Judaism. But here are two things to consider: (1) the same is true in Christendom and (2) God definitely expects and even requires extrabiblical tradition. Regarding my first point, even the most bland, tradition-less Protestant denominations have traditions that create taboos and practices that are extra-biblical. Try drinking a glass of wine just like Jesus did in front of a Baptist clergyman and you’ll have an interesting conversation. As for extra-biblical practices, I could mention many things, such as certain communion customs, hymnals, and Sunday morning 11 a.m. as the holy hour that must be observed, and so forth. As for my second point, God never gave specifics on how to keep many commandments. If you’ve ever lit candles before sundown on Friday night, guess what, you’ve practiced something extra-biblical.

Finally, Menachem said:

I have to go but my point is that these views represent the “establishment” in MJ. Is this what you want to convert to Derek?

My response: Conversion is an unfortunate word in both its Christian and Jewish usage. As you well know, converting Jews in church history has been a bad business indeed. Likewise, converting Gentiles to Judaism gives a false impression. The impression is that Jewish identity is reducible to a religion or sect. As we well know, Menachem, Jewish identity is about belonging to a family, not about a particular sect. I wish we could use the expression “Joining Israel,” or something like it.

I am not converting to a sect. I am recognizing the validity of joining Israel, the authority of the rabbinical council within Messianic Judaism, and the sanctity of ceremony as one undertakes a divine calling. That is, I believe that joining Israel is possible, it should be attended by a council of judges within Israel who have set standards, and that such a commitment should, like marriage, be done before witnesses.

I think you and I would agree that there is much silliness in various parts of the Messianic Jewish movement. I hope I will not contribute in any way to it. I simply feel my destiny is with Israel and for me, Jewish people are “us”, not “them”.

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About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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40 Responses to Menachem’s Responses and My Thoughts

  1. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek… I appreciate your love for our people and your earnest desire to join us, even as you are being actively discouraged and repelled by some. I hope that any harsh words thrown your way will never make your view Israel any less or, G-d forbid, become resentful of Jews (Messianic or not) in general (as the case with some people in the “Two-Stick” movement). We are a jealous lot, especially when it come to our identity. I know you understand.

    Personally, I am not sure if any formal conversion process can ever make one part of a people. I know you recognize that, since you said that you’re not seeking a religious conversion (is there another kind?). Historically, what made someone part of Israel is actively participating in the life of Israel, throwing your lot with our people, sharing in our persecutions, defending the Jewish people as if you were a native-born and of us.

    I know you stated that you are doing this (going through formal conversion) because you want to become part of the family, but also because you want to legitimize yourself as a Messianic Rabbi. My only concern would be where do we draw the line? There are already a lot of congregation out there that are “pastored” by Gentiles who call themselves rabbis. Where do we draw the line?

    If you look at the Bible, much of this “joining with Israel” was usually done through marriage. A Gentile (usually a woman, but occasionally, a man) nearly always married a Jew(ess) and thus would become part of Israel in every sense (except ethnically), at least through subsequent generations. I know that you already married a Gentile girl, so that option is out of the question. Of course, you would be hard pressed to prove that ANYONE not ethnically Jewish has ever become a Jew and not a Ger Toshabh or Proselyte. Would you settle for Derek the Amerikite? Perhaps if you moved to Israel and your Messianic kids married Messianic Jews, what better way to join yourself to Jewish people? Having Jewish in-laws would certainly draw you close to Israel as people (I am not promoting intermarriage, but neither would Derek’s children be “pagans” who would lead the Jews away from God.)

    That said, I think the best test of someone wanting to become part of our family would be when the persecutions of Jews start anew (and they will). I think this would be the absolute best test for those gentiles who love to sing Jewish songs, use Yiddishe slang, put on yarmulkes and prayer shawls. Then we will see who really joined the family, if they stick around. Would you wear a Magen Dovid on your sleeve?

    Derek, I am not sure if one can become a Jew through conversion, but you can be (and probably already are!) part of our family, and be treated as a native born, and have a share of inheritance in the tribe your settle yourself in, if you so choose.

    Gene

  2. Menachem says:

    Derek

    Thank you for the response and the invitation. I feel am right to be hesitant about delving into a delicate family stuation over the internet. To say anything more than to note the irony of the metaphor you choose given what apparantly is a difficult situation that reminds one of civil wars that divided families. I hope that I do not convey anything but the deepest compassion for what must be a difficult stuation for all

    My beef is not with the suffering people who fall along this divide but with the so called leaders who foster it. They have a heavy burden of responsibility for indeed the Jewish people is a family and these so called rabbis and apostles have given bad counsel to impressionable people.

    You say that you want to join this family. I say that that is great. You love the Jewish people warts and all. That is a good sign. However just as you want to join the family I am concerned about who has been allowed into my livingroom and taken up residence.

    Its not just silliness. Its about who tells us who is in the family and how our family behaves. There are those out there who say they are Jews and are not who say they are rabbis and are not and who clam apostolic authority for their views which they dont have. They would like to and have tried to speak ex cathedra on family issues which they have no right tospeak about. If someone wants to join MY family he or she will please leave these people outside the house.They offend Bubby and Zeda.

    Menachem

  3. Gene:

    Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate them as well as your thoughtful response.

    As for conversion generally being through marriage, a la Ruth the grandmother of David or Asenath the mother of Ephraim and Manasseh, I wish to offer again another example: Caleb.

    Caleb was a Kenizzite, or a descendant of Esau. Yet he became part of the tribe of Judah. If it was through intermarriahe, the Torah does not say. Now, as you know, Caleb means dog, and so, as the Syro-Phoenician woman said to Yeshua, “even the dog gets crumbs from the table!” (Sorry, I was feeling midrashic).

    Derek

  4. Menachem:

    Thanks again for the kind words and thoughtful responses. You are a mensch as well as a good thinker.

    I have very high faith in the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council not to allow meshuggies into Israel. They are men of honor and sound judgment.

    Ultimately the authority for such things is with God, and the surprising truth is that he entrusts it to men. Seeing that the Jewish remnant within Israel must have some status before God (I think you would be hard-pressed to disagree), then these men are the ones stepping up, taking halakhah seriously, and acting as judges of Torah in our community. May God grant them strength and peace.

    Derek

  5. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Derek…

    It is very true, Caleb fully joined Israel (probably while still in Egypt, perhaps enslaved together) and was even allowed into the Promised Land ahead of most, and even given Hebron to his descendants as an inheritance. Of course, he didn’t convert (other than circumcision) – he just joined the People, and, as you said, settled in the tribe of Judah. Perhaps he did marry an Israelite woman, but as you said, Torah is silent on that.

    Now, of course, back then gentiles with such deep a commitment to the G-d of Israel and to it’s people were a rarity, especially men (one can count them on one hand!). I would say they are a rarity today as well, even among gentile believers (most of whom are probably itching to fly as far away from the Jews via the Rapture as possible).

    My (non-rhetorical) questions to you, Derek:

    Do you believe that when Moshiach comes, will your joining yourself to Israel and becoming one with it’s people, as oppose to being a righteous Gentile in the body of the Moshiach (like Cornelius was), be of lasting benefit or significance? What difference do you think will it make for you and your family? Do you believe that God will settle you among Israel’s tribe forever because of your commitment, as oppose to other Gentile believers who are not seeking to become part of Israel at this time (where do you believe they will be)? Just wanted to know what you really believe, to dig a little deeper, if you will.

    Shalom,

    Gene

  6. Marc says:

    Hi Gene you raise some great questions about this most important topic.

    I do believe you are being genuine in your responses. This seems to be very delicate to talk about and honestly I can’t speak or feel how Derek is feeling because I’m not in the situation. I’m a native born myself so I can’t speak for Derek.

    I’ll be honest it doesn’t make sense to me and really boggles my mind.

    Derek I’m not in your shoes but to me it’s like saying “Your blood was not sufficient to make me a part of Your People.”

    Marc

  7. Gene:

    You asked some good questions: “Do you believe that when Moshiach comes, will your joining yourself to Israel and becoming one with it’s people, as oppose to being a righteous Gentile in the body of the Moshiach (like Cornelius was), be of lasting benefit or significance? What difference do you think will it make for you and your family? Do you believe that God will settle you among Israel’s tribe forever because of your commitment, as oppose to other Gentile believers who are not seeking to become part of Israel at this time (where do you believe they will be)? Just wanted to know what you really believe, to dig a little deeper, if you will.”

    My thoughts: Who can say for sure what the Almighty will do, but based on Caleb’s example and my understanding of what joining Israel means, yes, I believe coonverts will be counted with Israel in the millennium. What difference will being counted with Israel make? Well, when my friends who are not Jewish are ruling over the nations with Messiah, my guess is that I will be in Israel with my Jewish friends. This is not a hierarchy, but a matter of different roles in the Age to Come. As I read it, when the Final Age comes after the first thousand years, there will be no more temple, all sin will be put away, and the distinction will not matter as much anymore.

    Derek

  8. Marc:

    You said that it seems as if I feel the blood of Yeshua is insufficient to make me who I need to be.

    I am sad that you would get this impression. I feel no lack at all in what Yeshua has done for me. That has nothing at all to do with my choice.

    Did Paul feel a lack in Yeshua’s atoning blood? Of course not. Yet he was called to be more than just a recipient of God’s forgiveness. He was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles.

    In a similar way, I have a calling (I’m not comparing mine to Paul’s except as an example). My calling is to be with Israel. If God can call a Jew to live with non-Jews, is it hard to imagine the converse?

    My family’s calling to live Jewish lives and be part of the destiny of Israel has nothing to do with a sense of insufficiency. It has everything to do with a path God has led us down.

    Also, let me clarify that conversion is not at all necessary for a Gentile to participate in worship with Israel and joining in the practices of Israel. I believe that God-fearing Gentiles who want to worship with Israel are welcome to do so. Yet I still say conversion is an option for some, who are called to join with Israel’s destiny fully.

    Derek

  9. Menachem says:

    Derek:

    This has been a good discussion. Obviously we didnt cover everything but it was good that we were able to all discuss this respectfully. I am willing to continue ( as long as we maintain this tone with all parties concerned). However Shabbat is coming and it probably will be cut short.

    Having said that, I think that Gene summed up what I was trying to say better than I could:

    <<< you want to legitimize yourself as a Messianic Rabbi. My only concern would be where do we draw the line? There are already a lot of congregation out there that are “pastored” by Gentiles who call themselves rabbis. Where do we draw the line<<<<

    For me this is the issue in a nutshell. Frankly I could care less about what the average Gentile who love Judaism chooses to do. I am much more concerned about the illegitimacy of leadership already extant in this movement. Having this process available for this reason provides a cloak of legitimacy for these folks.

    You say that the folks in the HC are people of honor etc etc. I agree. However as an institution neither they nor Hasheyvenu have even begun to show the courage to even discuss this one openly much less address it in policy. Until they do, the door is wide open for abuse.

    Derek: These folks can’t even say that MJ “rabbis” arent rabbis. How are they going to tell them that they arent Jews??

    Menachem

  10. Menachem says:

    Derek:

    After reading the above, I realized that I might have given offense. I rush to clarify: From what I know of you I think you would make an excellent rabbi should you seek to pursue this course and of course obtain the necessary training. I hope that clarifies things.

    And yes we have met.

    Menachem

  11. Menachem says:

    Hi Derek

    It doesnt look as if anyone is continuing this discussion. With the High Holidays coming, there are a lot of weightier matters to consider and I am myself working through your comments on Mussar.

    I thought I would provide some closure to this discussion with some data documenting my concerns as described above.

    Compare where the RC stands compared to even Progressive/ Reformed Judaism on the subject of “Jewishness”:

    Here is what the RC says about this issue. I have taken this from their web site:

    “We also accept the Reform decision, which acknowledges patrilineal descent under certain conditions. In our definition, the necessary and sufficient condition consists of that individual identifying as a Jew.”

    This is a broad definition and without precedent anywhere else in Judaism. It leaves a very wide open door for abuse.

    Anyone who has a Jewish father and “identifies as a Jew” is a Jew regardless of how they are raised or what their practice is? Since when is this Judaism? And why the need for such a broad standard? Since when is this Halacha?

    This leaves the door wide open for someone with a Jewish ancestor raised in the church to declare themselves Jewish and their children Jewish simply because they believe themselves to be practicing “Biblial Judaism” or “Messianic Rabbinic Judaism” or what have you. I dont care what one calls it it comes down to Christianity and it leads to what I call “neo Supercessionism”.

    Contrast this standard with even Reform/ Progressive Judaism which would require such an individual to have been raised Jewish and to have a public connection to practicing Mitzvot.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/patrilineal1.html

    I fear that the RC is too loose in this matter and have no assurance that they will be any more careful in matters related to conversion.

    Be well

    Menachem

  12. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Hi Menachem…

    Would you apply the same principal to those who claim Jewish ancestry for themselves and their children because their mother’s great-great-great-grandmother (via matrilineal descent) was born a Jew but who married a Gentile man (and with their family being “churched” for many a generation and otherwise Gentile through and through)?

    The non-Messianic Jewish Orthodox Halacha would declare such a person a full Jew. In fact, with proper documentation no conversion of any kind would be required.

    Shalom,

    Gene

  13. Menachem says:

    sHi Gene

    Thanks for the question. I am not sure I quite know what principle you are asking me about. We may be talking about different things and I dont want to be misunderstood.I am not talking about logical consistancy.

    What I am talking about is who decides who is a Jew and who converts etc etc. The RC standard is idiosyncratic. They are introducing a new unique standard into Judaism without having established the standing to do so. And BTW curious given their understandable reticence about striking out in new Halachic directions in other matters. I note that they give deerence to conservative Halacha in most matters.

    This is not about what. Its about who decides. We need to follow the precedents of the Jewish people. Not powerful MJ ministries.

    Menachem

  14. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Menachem…

    I agree with you that there is a question of halachic authority when it comes to RC, as they are self-appointed. But, we have to start somewhere and I don’t see too much opposition to what they are trying to do or any alternative body.

    Are they inventing new Halacha while trying to present themselves as following the established traditions? From Rabbical Judaism point of view – yes. However, since Messianic Judaism is about going back to G-d’s Halacha – Tanakh should be our ultimate source of halacha and precedent. Whenever Rabbinical Halacha trumps the Tanakh (I am not talking about those traditions that supplement instead of replace God’s laws), it should in no way be adopted by MJ. Didn’t Yeshua chide P’rushim for that very thing?

    My comments to you about the inconsistency of matrilineal descent were in response to you taking an issue with RC allowing for patrilineal descent (which I personally believe is a whole lot more biblical than the matrilineal one). I believe that matrilineal descent leaves an even wider door for non-Jews to claim Jewishness. But, that’s a new topic by itself. Perhaps Derek would like to write an article re: Patrilineal vs Matrilineal issue.

    I would like to add that RC’s citing of Reform’s position on descent as an example for Messianic Judaism is unfortunate – Reform rejects Halacha (any Halacha) as binding on Jews. They are not an example for Messianic Jews to follow or cite. Instead, if anything, RC should have pointed to Tanakh as their source for justifying acceptance of patrilineal descent.

  15. Menachem says:

    Gene

    Maybe my answer was a bit cryptic. I dont mean to be either nasty or mysterious. Especially with the Rosh coming. Let me answer you directly and wish you a Happy New Year.

    The non-Messianic Jewish Orthodox Halacha would declare such a person a full Jew. In fact, with proper documentation no conversion of any kind would be required.<<<<

    Exactly. That’s Jewish law for you.

    I hope that answers your question???

    Menachem

  16. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Menachem,

    As I understand it, this particular ruling cannot be justified by Tanakh… That’s where MJ’s halacha should come in – to correct human error through Biblical precedent.

    Question: do you, personally, agree with this law and do you find it Biblical and G-d ordained?

    L’Shana Tova!

    Gene

  17. Menachem says:

    Hi Gene

    I can see we are not going to agree on MJ Halacha before the Rosh. <grin

    Without going into my personal view on whether this or that law is “Biblical or G-d ordained” I would refer you to the views of Hasheyvenu, Mark Kinzer, Carl Kinbar Stuart Dauerman etc. on the matter of the authority of the oral tradition. As far as MJ leaders go I find myself more in sympathy with their views. I had assumed that Derek was pretty much there as well given that he was going with the RC as his authority in this matter.

    It is only within the context of agreement on this matter that the discussion I was having with Derek can be understood. It was precisely because I do not believe that we can correct human error through Biblical precedent as simply as you describe that I cautioned Derek. It was my understanding that he understood the difficulty inherant in this as well and that this was also the position of the RC/ HC. The fact that this matter is so prone to misinterpretation by one of us shows us that clarification is in order. The RC’s position is not clear or else we would not be running into this problem. You will note if you go to their website that they include a lot of extra biblical beliefs in their Halacha.

    Equally clearly there are proceedural difficulties here. RC has a lot of spadework to do and I recommend that these problems be addressed before anyone moves forward with the conversion issue.

    I hope you do not feel that I am dodging this issue and I would be happy to pick this up after the Rosh. I would be interested in Dereks response to my point as well however.

    Menachem

  18. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Thanks, Menachem… clearly it’s a very difficult issue that we won’t be able to solve in a few hours before Rosh. If RC’s goal is to stick to traditional non-Messianic (and probably mostly post-biblical) Halacha at all costs simply for the sake of imaginary “unity” with non-Messianic Jewish Orthodox community, and not to align “their” Halacha with Tanakh, I believe that they will fail.

    Have a blessed New Year!

    Gene

  19. Menachem says:

    Gene

    Its only a few hours before the Rosh.

    If RC’s goal is to stick to traditional non-Messianic (and probably mostly post-biblical) Halacha at all costs simply for the sake of imaginary “unity” with non-Messianic Jewish Orthodox community, and not to align “their” Halacha with Tanakh,<<<<<

    I hope I havent given anyone the impression that this is their goal. That would be the last thing I would want to have come out of this discussion.

    We have to be careful about these things.

    Be well and have a Blessed and Happy New Year

    Menachem

  20. yochanan says:

    menachem,

    you quote the RC statement on Jewish identity that yhe RC recognizes patrilineal descent in line with Reform Jewish decisions, which would include identification as a Jew, which according to Reform thought includes Jewish actions/mitzvot observance.

    so then the RC is affirming that Jewish identity for children of a Jewish father, gentile mother must include self identity of the individuals as Jews, a self defining that includes Jewish observance (brit milah for boys, bar/bat mitzvah, etc.).

    if someone had a jewish relative that was their great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather moshe and you have been raised as a Christian (and in a line of Christians), you would be defined as a non-Jew by the RC and if you were to desire to claim Jewish status you would need to seek formal conversion to Judaism.

  21. Menachem says:

    Yochanan

    Clearly we are reading this two different ways. The RC statement as I reaqd it is not identical to the Reform requirements which you describe. All that the RC seem to require is that the said person identifies themselves as Jewish. As we know there are many in MJ who consider themseves Biblically Jewish and somehow superor in theirpractic from the rest othe Jewish world. It appears to me that the RC has given such folks a wink of approval. Self definitio does not make one Jewish.

    Menachem

  22. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Yochanan… in your personal opinion, a person born of a Jewish MOTHER and a gentile father, but who’s raised as a Christian without Jewish identity and doesn’t follow any “Jewish actions/mitzvot observance”, but attends a church – is that person a Jew and should he/she be considered one by RC?

  23. Menachem says:

    Gene:

    Question: do you, personally, agree with this law and do you find it Biblical and G-d ordained?<<<

    I see you addressed a similar question to Yochanan. I await his response as an advocate of a more mature MJ. My response I am afraid may be unsatisfactory to you but it will be brief. The explanation may be a bit lengthy however.: In brief I don’t think it matters a “hill of beans” (to borrow a phrase from Humphrey Bogart) whether I as an individual agree with this law or whether I find it Biblical for it to be G-d ordained. The question itself presupposes a Protestant world view of such matters.

    I believe that we must rely in large part on our faith community to assist us in interpreting the will of Hashem as written in the scripture when it comes to matters of practice. This especially is applicable to the question at hand. Stuart Dauerman has written eloquently on this in his blog and I commend it to you.

    As I understand it, this particular ruling cannot be justified by Tanakh<<<

    Thats ok with me. I respect your right to an opinion. Have you consdered the fact that those who made the ruling did think it justified by Tanakh?

    That’s where MJ’s halacha should come in – to correct human error through Biblical precedent.<<<<

    This is where I have a major problem with MJ. Who is going to correct the “human error” that the makers of MJ Halacha make? What check is there on them? The answer is that so far there hasnt been. We have seen human “Chubris” ( Chuzpah plus Hubris equals hebraic hubris) go wild in this movement. I have seen “leaders” and “rabbis” and self proclaimed “apostles” messing with age old Jewish practices simply on their “say so” without any “biblical precedent” whatsoever. (I can cite the examples if you request).

    I may be a bit older than you Gene so I feel that experience has taught me some hard lessons. One of them is to be quite suspicious of all forms of human authority that go unchecked. I believe this to be a belief that is grounded in scripture and of course this was a core belief of the American Founding Fathers which they derived from what I think was the best of the Protestant tradition. (As with many things it wasnt all bad)

    Shana Tova

    Menachem

  24. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Hi Menachem… thank you for your answer.

    The reason I asked both of you similar, but differently worded questions is because I wanted to see where both of you stood when it came to Tanakh vs “what rabbis said”. Yes, it’s true that rabbis claim to draw their conclusions from the Tanakh, but reading many of their explanations on how they came to their interpretations, makes it obvious how far from G-d’s Word they have strayed (not that Protestants don’t have that problem, but it seems that rabbis made it an art form).

    I still want to find your personal opinions (if you’re willing to share, of course!). I KNOW what non-messianic rabbis say (their multiple and often contradictory opinions), but at the same time I know what the Tanakh says. That said, I don’t want to accept that to give preeminence to Tanakh over tradition is a Protestant way of doing things, while substituting G-d Word & commandments for our own (rabbinical ones) is the way we Jews do it. This shouldn’t be so. Do I, as a Jew, HAVE to accept some rabbis opinion which I CAN SEE contradicts the scripture?

  25. Menachem says:

    Hi Gene:

    This is a good dialogue on a difficult subject. I want to make sure that we keep on topic and keep a respectful tone.

    it obvious how far from G-d’s Word they have strayed <<<<

    Our problem is that it is clearly ovious to you. Not to me. Not to many others. I refer you once again to their writings on this subject.

    ….that rabbis made it an art form).<<<<<

    Which “rabbis”? Do you mean many “Messianic Rabbis”? If so I would agree with you although I find most of their work less than artistic on the whole. I am not trying to be snide here but rather to point out that what some people think as obvious may not be so and thus to provoke some thought. I hope you see the difficulty? It all depends upon which community of reference you have an which parts of G-ds words you choose as your point of reference.

    I still want to find your personal opinions (if you’re willing to share, of course!).<<<<<

    I think I made this as clear as I can. I dont have a lot to add on this particular question. Perhaps Yochanan does.

    I KNOW what non-messianic rabbis say (their multiple and often contradictory opinions), but at the same time I know what the Tanakh says<<<<<<

    I am happy for you that you have such confidence that you KNOW what the Tanakah says on this difficult subject. Clearly a lot of people with more learning than I have have found this a very involved question. I defer to your superior knowledge which must have come from painstaking research. Yashe Koach!

    That said, I don’t want to accept that to give preeminence to Tanakh over tradition is a Protestant way of doing things<<<<

    G-d forbid! Its a Jewish concept! Jewish law clearly draws this distinction. One of the many areas in which “MJ rabbis” do not understand Jewish law is that they are either unaware or ( I hope this isnt true) perhaps are aware and distort the truth about it.

    while substituting G-d Word & commandments for our own (rabbinical ones) is the way we Jews do it.<<<<

    Please see above.

    This shouldn’t be so. Do I, as a Jew, HAVE to accept some rabbis opinion which I CAN SEE contradicts the scripture?<<<<<

    Um no….. This is a difficult one. I tend to believe in freedom of thought and conscience. I dont think you HAVE to accept anyones opinion. Some rabbi or otherwise.

    We are not talking about individual opinions but who speaks for the community. And although it may be hard for you to see it, making MJ observance ( accepting the Jewish Messiah etc etc) the standard for who is a Jew makes no more sense to the Jewish community than making Madonna an ambassador for Judaism simply because she practices Kaballah and calls herself such.

    To get back to the point of this discussion, we began by discussing Dereks desire to join with the people of Israel. If he by doing so is joining people claiming to be Jewish by the above criteria, he no more joins the Jewish community than he does by following Madonna. That of course is just my opinion.

    Be well

    Menachem

    Menachem

  26. Gene Shlomovich says:

    OK, thanks Menachem…

    >>>>>> I defer to your superior knowledge which must have come from painstaking research. Yashe Koach!<<<<<<

    Your remarks are uncalled for. All I said that I have seen opinions of (many) Rabbis on the subject, but at the same I know what the scripture says (specifically, biblical precedents) as I have studied the Tanakh for over 10 years now, but I studied non-messianic rabbinical thought on this particular subject (of descent) only recently, for about a year but already founded wanting. I didn’t position myself as an expert on the subject. I wouldn’t be asking questions if I was one.

    Also, I am not sure that I have ever advocated observance as a definition of Jewishness. God forbid! I am a ex-Soviet Jew, whose family was deeply Jewish (with no Gentiles in sight) and very observant prior to WWII, who grew up in a small Ukrainian town with a sizable Jewish minority, and who personally suffered for being a Jew on many occasions, yet formerly ignorant (of no fault of my own) of many (but not all) of my people traditions. With all my former ignorance, my Jewishness was always expressed as being part of the People, apart from any specific observance. I always thought of my fellow Jews as my blood RELATIVES no matter what they believed, and still do. I used to frown at intermarriage without reading a single word from Tanakh. At the same time I have never seen a Gentile before who joined us apart from marriage – in the USSR, nobody in their right mind WANTED to become a Jew, to suffer like we did. But now, it’s fashionable! That’s why I tend to look a religious conversion (messianic or not) with suspicion. I would like to see how many Gentile people will desire conversion when persecutions of Jews start anew.

  27. Menachem says:

    Gene

    Your remarks are uncalled for. All I said that I have seen opinions of (many) Rabbis on the subject, but at the same I know what the scripture says (specifically, biblical precedents) as I have studied the Tanakh for over 10 years now, but I studied non-messianic rabbinical thought on this particular subject (of descent) only recently, for about a year but already founded wanting. I didn’t position myself as an expert on the subject. I wouldn’t be asking questions if I was one.<<<<<

    My apologies if I have given offense. I sincerely encourage you to keep studying and asking questions. I hope I am not positioning myself as an expert either. Especially at this time of year.

    Also, I am not sure that I have ever advocated observance as a definition of Jewishness. God forbid!<<<<<<

    I havent seen you do so either.

    I am a ex-Soviet Jew, whose family was deeply Jewish (with no Gentiles in sight) and very observant prior to WWII, who grew up in a small Ukrainian town with a sizable Jewish minority, and who personally suffered for being a Jew on many occasions, <<<<<<

    If you have so suffered, than you know better than I the consequences of anti Jewish sentiment. And of authoritarian viewpoints. It is these things that I am concerned about primarily. I mean no disrespect. I repeat, Yashe Koach for your efforts. I hope that you are inclined to seek further study in this area and encourage you to look at the sources I cited and to dialogue with those folks on this issue.

    yet formerly ignorant (of no fault of my own) of many (but not all) of my people traditions. With all my former ignorance, my Jewishness was always expressed as being part of the People, apart from any specific observance.<<<<<<

    I agree with this. So does traditional Judaism.

    Let me ask you a hypothetical: What would you think of someone who would go to an individual in your community who was so suffering who was all their life identified with the Jewish community through matrilineal descent who would say to such a person “You are mistaken. The Tanakah says you arent REALLY Jewish. On the contrary Jewish decent is from the father?” I hope I am making it clear that I do not see you doing this, but I do see something equivalent to this on the part of much of the MJ leadership I am concerned about.

    At the same time I have never seen a Gentile before who joined us apart from marriage – in the USSR, nobody in their right mind WANTED to become a Jew, to suffer like we did.
    But now, it’s fashionable! That’s why I tend to look a religious conversion (messianic or not) with suspicion.<<<<<<

    I am right with you there Gene. It’s offensive. And again, I dont mean to include Derek in this.

    I would like to see how many Gentile people will desire conversion when persecutions of Jews start anew.<<<<<

    This is precisely my concern about the many leaders of MJ who are not Jewish, who were not brought up with your sensibilities because they were brought up CHRISTIAN and who in fact have cast their lot with their friends in the church. I have major concerns that their loyalty is not with the Jewish people.

    This first came to my attention when the Mel Gibson movie came out. I noted to my surprise and dismay that many people in MJ had very little concern about the slurs that were being directed by major Christian leaders towards Jewish leaders who raised concerns about “Mel”. I can tell you that I was very disappointed that the local “elder” of the MJ congregation neareste me who was part of such an “apostolic network” told me in no uncertain terms that he considered that movie to be the most important “evangelical outreach” of the decade and that this outweighed any concerns about Mr Gibsons antisemitic agenda. Of course later developmeents showed us what his true colors were but I have yet to see major Christian leaderes and the MJ leaders aligned with them to fully discuss the implications of this issue. There are other areas of similar concern but they are I am afraid outside of the subject at hand.

    It is apparant that we do share concerns about the major point here and perhaps we can agree to disagree about the minor points?

    Be Well and Once again Lshana Tova.

    Menachem

  28. Menachem says:

    Gene:

    Addendum:

    But now, it’s fashionable! That’s why I tend to look a religious conversion (messianic or not) with suspicion<<<

    What I find particularly offensive is that it is not only fashionable but profitable. And a source of career advancement.

    Menachem

  29. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Hi Menachem… I will answer your points in some details later, but let me just say that we do agree on MANY points, probably more than not. More importantly, we share the same concerns for our people. Thank your for your thoughtful answers.

    As far as matrilineal descent, I DO agree with you that it would be highly insensitive of us to throw the “you are not Jewish” line to those born of Jewish mothers (even if biblically it was the father who transfered the Israelite status upon his offspring). I personally would not do it. Rav Saul was inclusive of Timothy, and I believe he knew what he was doing. Especially considering the fact that non-Messianic Jewish community has come to accept such children as Jews.

    I think what bothers me more is not that matrilineal children are accepted by Orthodox Judaism (although I have a major issue of accepting someone as a Jew with only great-great-great-grandmother to show for it), but that the patrilineal ones are rejected (and with such fury). There are a lot of patrilineal Jews from the former USSR (I know many personally from my home town who are now in Yisrael), and I can see how they are treated and thought of by the Orthodox establishment. They are rejected as goyim, even though persecuted and identified as Jews all of their lives back in their country of origin. Talk about being insensitive. Thank G-d that He arranged that they be allowed to come to Yisrael in spite of that!

    L’shana Tova, to you as well, my brother.

    Gene

  30. Menachem says:

    Gene

    I know many personally from my home town who are now in Yisrael), and I can see how they are treated and thought of by the Orthodox establishment. They are rejected as goyim, even though persecuted and identified as Jews all of their lives back in their country of origin. Talk about being insensitive. Thank G-d that He arranged that they be allowed to come to Yisrael in spite of that!<<<<

    I am aware of the situation and share your sentiments. This is a complex matter:

    Clearly the question of making Aliyah to Israel ( as opposed to having an Aliyah in a MJ Synagogue) under these circumstances is a life and death matter. As such this is a completely different situation than the one which we posit here. I suspect ( although I am not certain) that the Reform establishment might regard those who suffered openly and willingly as Jews as having performed an important Mitzvah (“Kiddush Hashem”) and thus certainly entitled to Jewish status.

    Having said that I am sure that you are also aware that there is concern today in Israel that some of these individuals have had other motivations for making Aliyah. In extreme instances there has been a lot of publicity about the so called “Neo Nazis” from the former Soviet Union now present in Israel. I dont by any means believe that these people can be stereotyped or categorized in any particular way. I certainly dont claim to know anything at all about their demographic. What I think we can again agree upon is that there needs to be some sort of gatekeeping process? And that has to ultimately come from the community of Israel? I propose to you that that is the best approach to protect the dignity and Jewishness of the sorts of people you describe. Perhaps this is an area where a fully Jewish MJ leadership freed of the problems of credibiltiy which I described earlier could offer some moral guidance to the Jewish community as a whole.

    May we see that day come soon .

    Menachem

  31. Gene Shlomovich says:

    >>>>>>>>>Having said that I am sure that you are also aware that there is concern today in Israel that some of these individuals have had other motivations for making Aliyah. In extreme instances there has been a lot of publicity about the so called “Neo Nazis” from the former Soviet Union now present in Israel.<<<<<<<<<<

    Yes, of course. When I was in Israel visiting my grandparents I saw many ethnic Russians (non-Jews) there – simply because I can tell them apart from Jews from far way (since I grew up among these people). Many of them are simply tourist coming to visit the holy places and to splash in the Mediterranean. Some, through fake documentation or some distant Jewish relative somewhere in their tree, do manage to make their way to Israel because of economics or as a gateway to some other Western nation.

    Now, about those Soviet Russian neo-Nazis in the news lately. I closely followed that case. I can share a few things that I observed, which would not be noticed by most Jews who were not born in the former USSR. Most Soviet Jews, including yours truly, can often tell who is Jewish and is who is not by their last name. The leader of the gang, Eli Boanitov (notice the Russian last name), had the following to say to the police: “I won’t have kids. My grandfather is half yid, so that this piece of trash doesn’t have ancestors with even the smallest percent of Jewish blood.” So, his only connection to Jewishness was apparently through his mother’s father. Judging by his last name, his own father is a Russian (although the father is not mentioned in any of the stories, because he’s probably not there).

    The second one (probably in command) mentioned in the news is a fellow with last name Bondranenko – a typical Ukrainian last name. What this tells me, that if there was any Jewish heritage, it was matrilineal (probably a distant one at that). But hey, according to Orthodox Judaism if you can trace your great-great-great-grandmother on mom’s side as a Jew, so are you.

    So, to summarize the present population of Russian Jewish olim in Yisrael – 70% are probably Jewish on both sides, 25% or so percent are jews on fathers (most likely) or mother side (less likely, as few Jewish women would intermarry because of their parents, but many men did – just like in the Bible), and the remainder are from grandfather or grandmother sides or with fake documents.

    So, yes, I agree stricter guidelines are necessary to admit only those with a strong blood connection to the Jewish people, but who should be allowed to set them? I agree – the Jewish community (and they have through the Law of Return). However, the Orthodox at the present time are pushing to exclude the patrilineals from the Law of Return (read the news on JPost and other publications since that neo-Nazi story broke). Should we allow them to decide who is a Jew? Thank G-d for secular Israeli government.

    One more thing to note about Russian Jews: it was the patrilineals (with their Jewish last names, Jewish patronymics (middle names – always used in the Russian culture), and Jewish looks (yes, there’s such a thing!) to boot, who suffered the most in the former USSR along side “complete” Jews and NOT the matrilineals who carried their gentile fathers’ last and middle names as well as nationality! Also, in the Russian culture the father is the determinant of his child’s ethnicity.

  32. viola rogers says:

    I have to say this. From all my studying, the Torah and other rabbinic writings, it appears to be that Abraham was not Hebrew, but a gentile. I was emailing a Rabbi about this. He believes that Jews follow all Torah and gentiles don’t have to. I disagree. We emailed each other back a couple of times. After our last email, I went to the make tea and I was talking the HaShem. I asked Him about what was going on, one person believes this and another that. I told him how frustrated and confused I was becoming. I heard Him say, “What is a Jew? And then I knew. The rest of it is up to everyone here. But if someone wants to convert, I say the more the merrier. In case your wondering, yes, I am Jewish, from the Tribe of Levi.
    And single! hint hint. :)

    Viola

  33. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Viola… see the verse below in regards to your statement that Abraham was not a Hebrew, but a gentile…(please check your Torah for yourself):

    “Gen 14:13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew – now he dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were confederate with Abram.”

    I hope that answers your question.

    Be Blessed,

    Gene

  34. Menachem says:

    Gene:

    fashionable but profitable. And a source of career advancement<<<

    I hope you had an easy fast. I would like to follow up on this because of something I saw before Yom Kippur.

    I was thoroughly disgusted to see a major Charismatic ministry using the High Holidays as an opportunity to raise money. ( To the peanut gallery: Yes I realize that this is not unknown in the Jewish community. Please save your breath. Its a different issue for us) Anyway, I saw that this minister was preaching to his (mostly) Christian audience about a “Day of Atonement offering”. He suggested as I recall that they send him “Two thousand and seven” dollars. (not clear where they got this figure from).

    I didnt note him mentioning anything about self examination or Teshuvah. I guess that isnt necessary for “NC believers”.

    He was also selling the other Jewish holidays as well including Pesach and Sukkot. I dont think he was asking his listeners to kasher their dishes for Pesach. Just “send money”.

    This same ministry only a few months back was also marketing special new improved “New Covenant” Tallit with special scriptures written on the sash.

    I have my own thoughts on this, and how it relates to “MJ leadership” and the question we are discussing. To begin with, is this really all that different from what is found in many if not most “MJ” congregations? Before I go further, I would like to see what you and others ( including Derek) think about this.

    Menachem

  35. Gene Shlomovich says:

    Menachem… belated G’mar Khatima Tova to you. I had a very reflective and meaningful Yom Kippur and fast this year, and I hope you did too.

    I, like you, find it absolutely nauseating that someone would use Jewish holidays (or even the Christian ones) as opportunities to fleece the flock, and especially on Yom Kippur of all holidays. May HaShem purge the money changers from our midsts.

    As far as MJ congregations & leadership being similar to Char. churches. I noticed that a good number of MJ leadership came out and in many ways still are part of Charismatic Christianity. I’ve been to services of some, even those who would appear externally quite traditional, who incorporated many Christian charismatic elements into their services. One messianic rabbi (Jew by birth) would perform during service laying of hands for healing (which is fine), but complete with being “slain in the spirit” (with two of his assistants waiting to catch the falling people who would then remain on the floor for quite some time).

    Also, in all MJ congregations that I visited I saw the buckets being passed around, just like in most churches, and on Shabbat! So, no difference there. In the Temple, levites didn’t come up to every single individual during worship with outstretched hand holding a bucket – people would just drop their gifts to G-d in the Temple collection chests (remember the window with two “mites” or leptons). I have nothing against letting needs being known to the congregation, but I have much against manipulating the flock with gimmicks.

    One things is for sure – I wouldn’t want my Dad (or my other relatives) to see any of the things I mentioned above when I eventually take him to one of these places (I am working on and praying for him, with G-d’s help).

    We are currently working on putting together a new Messianic Jewish fellowship in South Florida. I find that learning what NOT TO DO has proven especially important in this task.

    Gene

  36. Menachem:

    Let’s you and I make a statement to the big Christian fundraisers. Ready? . . . THE HOLY DAYS OF HASHEM ARE NOT YOUR TOYS, AND PLEASE LEAVE JEWISH SANCTA ALONE. THEY ARE NOT WARES FOR YOU TO SELL AND PROFIT FROM. THEY ARE HOLY IN THEIR PURPOSE AND YOU ARE CHEAPENING THEM!

    Sometimes it’s good to say something prophetically even when you know the people who need to hear won’t hear.

    Derek

  37. Menachem says:

    Derek:

    THE HOLY DAYS OF HASHEM ARE NOT YOUR TOYS, AND PLEASE LEAVE JEWISH SANCTA ALONE. THEY ARE NOT WARES FOR YOU TO SELL AND PROFIT FROM. THEY ARE HOLY IN THEIR PURPOSE AND YOU ARE CHEAPENING THEM!<<<<

    Said with Bravura and Gevurah! Congrats.

    Sometimes it’s good to say something prophetically even when you know the people who need to hear won’t hear.<<<<

    I think you and I can send them a message that they will hear. We need to start by reforming the MJ house. They got this idea from MJ.

    Let’s say no more: No more “Messianic Marketplace” at the “Messiah Conference”. No more “offerings” on Shabbat (see Genes letter above). No more indiscriminate blowing of the Shofar “when the spirit moves”. No more vulgar changes to time honored Jewish halacha from the Shema, to “Hamotzi”, to the blessings over the candles which our mothers recited.

    BTW I am NOT saying that there should not be creative changes to the service. I prefer the traditional liturgy myself. However I am opposed to the imposition of such changes by people ignorant of Judaism and who have no authority or credentials to make these changes.

    I call this “Neo supercessionism”.

    Menachem

  38. Menachem says:

    Gene:

    One things is for sure – I wouldn’t want my Dad (or my other relatives) to see any of the things I mentioned above when I eventually take him to one of these places<<<<

    This is really the heart of the matter isn’t it? Many years ago I made the mistake of taking my beloved mother to one such service run by a wonderful Gentile pastor “in submission” to an “apostolic stream”. He was in my opinion just doing what he was directed from above.

    If someone doesn’t understand the point you raised above and is not in sympathy with it, how can they possible presume to “minister to” or “be in authority over” Jewish people? This same “apostle” has in public discourse repeatedly referred to taking your fathers and my mothers sensibilities into account as beeing “seeker friendly”.

    How can someone who is so Jewishly tone deaf presume to call themselves a rabbi much less an “apostle” to Jewish people?

    As far as MJ congregations & leadership being similar to Char. churches. I noticed that a good number of MJ leadership came out and in many ways still are part of Charismatic Christianity. <<<<<<<

    This is no coincidence. Leadership in most movements is self selective. MJ is no exceptions. Those in power tend to replicate themselves. It is not a totally random phenomenon.

    I’ve been to services of some, even those who would appear externally quite traditional, who incorporated many Christian charismatic elements into their services. One messianic rabbi (Jew by birth) would perform during service laying of hands for healing (which is fine), but complete with being “slain in the spirit” (with two of his assistants waiting to catch the falling people who would then remain on the floor for quite some time).<<<<<

    Frankly I dont care what Charismatic elements they want to incorporate. Just dont do it on Shabbos! Is that too much to ask? Apparantly it is.

    Also, in all MJ congregations that I visited I saw the buckets being passed around, just like in most churches, and on Shabbat!<<<<<<

    Your observation is correct from my experience. This is a major problem and I hope that the RC speaks to it. I have seen numerous rationalizations on this subject that dont hold water. Again the “apostolic stream” with which I am most familiar seems to encourage this. They also hold business meetings on Shabbat. It is odd to say but they preclude by accident or design any real Jews who have scruples about such things from full participation in their “community life”. Is that their goal?

    Menachem

  39. Jon Olson says:

    The discussion of Gentile conversion in MJ (or not), which is a matter of identity, would I think be better if supplemented by promoting a positive role for a Gentile in MJ, a way of praying together that does not threaten the Jewish character of a congregation that has such a character. I have left out the details here, so it may not appear possible to hold all these things together. I am trying to make a case (firstly, for myself, but also in a forum for discussion) that I as a Gentile have permission to do several Jewish things that I really enjoy, should avoid other behaviours that confuse identity, that I also should keep a space of distinction from Jews, and that I should pursue a vocation of blessing through difference. I want to share a passage from a book on peace building which I use to argue for a vocation as a Gentile. Of course, other Gentiles might feel that the reed flute is calling them to convert. (Derek, I added this passage to my essay after sending it to you.)

    Rumi once wrote a story told by the reed.

    Since I was cut from the reedbed,
    I have made this crying sound.
    Anyone apart from someone he loves
    Understands what I say.
    Anyone pulled from a source
    Longs to go back.

    “You see,” Faredun continued, “the sound of the reed flute is a call to find a way home.”

    Longing for a true home, this is vocation. Finding a way to that home is a journey toward understanding who I am. At its essence, home provides a sense of place. Vocation is the same. Knowing who you are is finding where you are, as in “I have a sense of my place in this world.”…. When we live in a way that keeps vocation within eyesight and earshot, like the needle of a compass, vocation provides a sense of location, place, and direction. This is why we may say to friends as a deep compliment of appreciation for their genuine acceptance, “I feel comfortable here with you. I can just be myself. I feel at home.”

    People who are close to home no matter where they live or travel or what work they do are people who are guided by their voice. They are voicewalkers: They can hear the reed flute. On a permanent journey, they are always within earshot of home.

  40. Menachem says:

    Hi Jon

    The discussion of Gentile conversion in MJ (or not), which is a matter of identity, would I think be better if supplemented by promoting a positive role for a Gentile in MJ<<<<<<<<

    First my small theological point: I have felt and argued for some time that the book of Ephesians promotes a very positive role for people from non Jewish heritages. I think this a good place to start for dialogue.

    Second, a more substantive “policy” point:

    It’s really unfortunate and ironic that the impression is left with so many Gentiles that the issue of their role is such a negative one. As I think I pointed out, my concern is much more with the type of leadership in the movement the message the movement sends to Jews. I have argued that the movement needs to promote a more positive role for Jews. Clearly something is wrong when both sides perceive that their role and identity is not being respected by the current structure.

    One distinction that I think needs to be made ( that so far is not made enough IMO ) is a distinction between non Jewish people as such ( which, please correct me if I am theologically incorrect from the Christian perspective) constitute an essential part of what is termed “the ecclesia” and Church based INSTITUTIONS. ( pardon the capital letters but I cant do italics here). These often are conflated for a variety of reasons by MJ leadership and Christians engaged in these discussion ( witness the recent discussions with Michael Brown) .

    a way of praying together that does not threaten the Jewish character of a congregation<<<<<<<

    I think it imperative that something that addresses this be worked out. One possible solution would be to arrange for time to do this that does not interfere with Jewish time and space. For instance, I have long thought that Saturday night after Havdallah would be an excellent time for such a joint venture to affirm unity between Jews and Non Jews. This would appear to me to be consistant with the New Covenant pattern. In addition those so inclined to Charismatic worship could pretty much have a free reign at a time that is not offensive to Jewish sensibilities.

    Thank you for sharing your feelings with the rest of us.

    Menachem

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