The final night of the 2008 Hashivenu Forum in Pasadena, California, (see hashivenu.org) was a banquet honoring a man and celebrating the future of Messianic Judaism.
What man would we choose to honor and why?
There is a man who saw twenty years ahead of anyone else what Messianic Judaism must become. There is a man who, though he was very new in Yeshua-faith himself, began teaching and writing with amazing accuracy about the need for a real Judaism centered on Yeshua.
At the time he was writing, Messianic Judaism was a variant form of Christianity with Jewish flavor. It was a great start, and many were flocking to it and thought it was the greatest thing since corned beef on rye. But one man was dissatisfied and looked ahead to something that would not even begin to emerge for more than a decade. He was calling for a Judaism alongside Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, and Reconstructionist Judaism.
The man was Dr. David Harold Stern, the author of the Jewish New Testament, the Complete Jewish Bible, The Messianic Jewish Manifesto, and Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel (all available at http://www.messianicjewish.net).
We honored Dr. Stern for his life, filled with contributions to Messianic Judaism’s definition and success, and also on the occasion of the establishment of a new center in Los Angeles, the David Harold Stern Center for Messianic Judaism, a part of MJTI (see mjti.org). This new center, already staffed by a few of our bright young leaders, is going to be a place for establishing new paradigms and forming a stronger community base for all of Messianic Judaism. History will look back and see MJTI, the David Harold Stern Center, and the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council as milestones in the development of a Judaism that will stand alongside other Judaisms.
Yet this Judaism will be about Yeshua.
In fact, seeing that Messianic Judaism in the 1980’s needed a major change, David Stern proposed (though it was never accepted) that the movement he was proposing would need a new name: Yeshua Judaism.
It seems the name Messianic Judaism is too firmly fixed to be changed, even though so many different approaches and philosophies all call themselves by that name. Yet, more importantly than a name, serious Messianic Judaism is at last on its way to being what it needed to be from the beginning.