I guess it’s not exactly live blogging when you don’t have an internet connection in the conference room. But at least I can give you some on the scene notes from this meeting in beautiful Palm Springs, California.
Our topic is intermarriage and the opportunities we have as a Messianic Jewish movement to be of help to the millions of intermarrieds and children of intermarriage in the U.S.
The statistics are staggering. Before 1970, only 13% of Jews intermarried. The figure today hovers at 50%. There are more than one million intermarried couples in the U.S. Add to that the children and also adult children of intermarriage and you quickly see we are talking about huge numbers.
And while Jewish identity is strong, so that many intermarried couples raise their children with some Jewish education, at least in the home, so too the Christian element of these marriages has sticking power. 35% of the children of these intermarriages are raised Christian, 32% Jewish, 11% Jewish plus something else, 10% Jewish-secular, 8% no religion, and 4% other religions.
Interestingly, 95% of non-Jewish spouses of intermarriage do not convert to Judaism. Many resent being pressured to convert.
And even in families where it is decided that Judaism alone will be the faith of the children, eventually there is a tendency for Christian traditions to creep back into the home.
It seems that Jewish identity and faith in Jesus are both hard to shake.
And the tragedy is that Messianic Judaism is the best-kept secret in the intermarried community.
Presenter, Rabbi Dr. David Rudolph gave his opinion that national surveys funded by Jewish agencies have tended to downplay or fail to get specific about the outlook of the intermarried families who pursue Christianity and Messianic Judaism. It would not be in the interest of these agencies to promote in any way another option besides Jewish affiliation.
But consider some of the benefits of Messianic Judaism for intermarried families:
–A solution to divided loyalty among the kids.
–A vehicle for the Jewish spouse to accept Jesus without abandoning Judaism.
–It provides an accepting community for the non-Jewish spouse to learn Judaism.
–It helps promote harmony with extended family, such as Jewish or Christian grandparents.
–Often the Jewish spouse greatly increases in Jewish observance.
–It is easier for a Jewish spouse to raise Jewish children in the supportive community of MJ.
–We offer children a historically rooted community to identify with, the early Jewish followers of Jesus.
And consider what the Messianic Jewish movement is currently missing out on. If 35% of intermarrieds raise their children Christian, there are hundreds of thousands of Christianized Jews out there. Many of them would find a better home in Messianic Jewish synagogues if they only knew about us.
Consider it safe to say, things are changing. I am involved now with other leaders in Messianic Judaism who are working to offer Messianic Judaism to the intermarried community. I will be announcing soon some news about projects I will be working on. One of them will be a new Messianic Jewish site for intermarrieds to learn about Messianic Judaism. And it is going to be big.