I don’t bring up my work with MJTI ( on the blog very often. Not the least of reasons is that I sometimes get a little controversial here on Messianic Jewish Musings and I don’t hesitate to share my own opinions. I don’t want anyone to assume that my passions and positions are the official words of the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute. It seems good to be able to speak with my own voice and not personality.

Yet there will be times I will want to share with Messianic Jewish Musings readers what I do for MJTI.

I was an MJTI student before I ever thought I would work for the school. I was an avid fan of MJTI before I had a hint I might become its Media Coordinator. The fact is, my goals and dreams as a leader in Messianic Judaism happened to be one and the same with MJTI, its theological forum called Hashivenu, and with the faculty and friends of MJTI spread throughout our Messianic Jewish world.

What we do at MJTI is controversial with some, maybe even with many.

Why are we controversial? I would say it is because we represent a paradigm change that some have not taken the time to think about and many react off the cuff. After hard thought and deliberation I am sure some are going to still disagree. But with some thought, I think many might actually find that what MJTI is doing makes sense. I suggest that those who love the people of Israel and believe in God’s plan to redeem and heal the world read Mark Kinzer’s Postmissionary Messianic Judaism and consider the new way of looking at things.

We are controversial because many perceive us as being against the unity of the congregation of Messiah.

The unchallenged notion in this claim, though, is that this unity must come through Jews in Messiah abandoning their Jewish obligations and becoming like non-Jews. This reverse Galatianism will never do and unity must exist together with faithfulness to identity and covenant, not by ignoring these.

We are controversial because we believe in Judaism and many have decided the rabbis are anti-Jesus and spiritually bankrupt.

The unchallenged notions here are at least two: (1) that the actual church of history is somehow closer to God than the Judaism of history and (2) that God is not at work in the people of Israel except in those who explicitly declare Jesus as Messiah. When you look at the actual, concrete, human side of the church through the ages, you do not find purity, scriptural integrity, or godliness as the rule, but rather corruption, greed, error, and abandonment of some of God’s priorities. You find the same when you look at Judaism and any other human endeavor. But you also find, in church history and in Jewish history, that God has been present in ways too powerful to miss. Salvation truly is implanted in our midst, as the prayer after the Torah service declares.

What do we imagine must happen for there to be a strong remnant among the Jewish people reforming Judaism from within and preparing for the days of Israel’s consolation and Jerusalem’s redemption (Luke 2:25, 38)?

Some will say, thoughtlessly, “God will do it and all we need to do is wait.”

It is true that human initiative is overrated at times. Yeshua came to reform his people from within through a paradigm change, and one of the obstacles was a stubborn insistence on human initiative — to start a rebellion against Rome in order to call down the Messianic kingdom.

Yet it is equally true that in a balanced way, human action which does not overstep prepares the way for God’s great movements of revival and redemption.

MJTI is working alongside many Messianic Jewish leaders and the wonderful people who wait eagerly for the redemption of Jerusalem to:
–Build a movement of identifiably Jewish followers of Messiah
–Call for faithfulness to God’s covenant requirements of Israel and Messiah’s call for a renewed Jewish people
–Build an infrastructure for training and passing the faith down from generation to generation
–Present to our Jewish people a gospel that is identifiably Jewish as well as universal to the nations

One of the most important projects I have been working on, and I cannot always share them before their time is ready, is a presentation of the vision and work of MJTI to make it plain to people who want to know if MJTI is something they should support. You can find that presentation at

I wrote this document (which will be available soon in print form) in order to make the goals and vision of MJTI plain to potential supporters and friends. It is also a great introduction for a general audience wanting to know what MJTI is all about.

It begins with a rationale for the audacious goals of a renewal in Yeshua of all Judaism. The document then explains our ideological center as Jerusalem, the place of Messiah’s throne. I then tell the story of MJTI, how it came to be and how it has developed. I present some of the initiatives of the school and suggest possible causes to donate to for those who are ready to get involved.

I urge all Messianic Jewish Musings readers to take some time this weekend and read it. Please feel free to comment here and challenge anything that troubles you or leave feedback on what these ideas mean to you.

I pray we all work together, Messianic Jews, Jews, and Christians, for the day of Messiah’s coming and the healing he will bring that we so desperately need in this world.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Mark Kinzer, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, MJTI. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to

  1. harrisj0475 says:

    The ideas mean to me that maybe I need to go to Messianic Jewish School and be more involved someday. Right now I attend Messianic Jewish worship services and serve in Christianity. I would like to hopefully transfer the serving part over to Messianic Judaism someday. I’m not considered a leader where I’m serving at but have started filling in with that area when one can’t be there. It puzzles me how doors open for certain non-leadership roles when I serve in Christianity but those same kind of doors don’t open for me in Messianic Judaism. And when I try to get a leadership role going while I’m serving in Christianity the door just doesn’t come open for that.

  2. Um . . . Jesus was a Jew. How can you want to strip the Jews of their Judaism, when Jesus, aka Yeshua, was one of them?

  3. Can I be a nag and suggest that your stock photos demonstrate the fact that 52% of Israeli Jewry is female? In 24 pages, the only woman visually represented is in a single photo showing the back of her head. It sends the very unintended message that Jewish women aren’t part of MJTI’s vision, and that if they are, they are nameless, faceless, and voiceless.

    Again, sorry to nag, but these visual representations are just as important as your brilliantly crafted text, typeface, and layout.

  4. heavenisnear says:

    please let us know when it is printed. i do look forward to reading and learning more about MJTI. it is difficult to read that type of document on the screen, if you know what i’m saying. peace

  5. Monique:

    Bonus! I had not considered that posting the document here could serve as a sort of marketing focus group test, but I am glad for your comment. I have time to make a change and get the (female) designer to find stock photos that include Israeli women. It’s a good point and I overlooked it (I could use the excuse that the designer picked the shots, but the need for women in the images should have occurred to me).


  6. Pixel:

    I think what you are asking is, “Derek, you say you are concerned that Christianity has been stripping Jews of their Jewish identity, but how can that happen if Jesus is Jewish?” Let me know if I interpreted your question incorrectly.

    The answer is simple, common, and tragic. The most common approach has been, “You were Jewish and now you are a Christian; here’s a ham sandwich.” Another has been, “You’re Jewish? That’s like being Irish or Italian. So now you are a Christian of Jewish ethnicity.”

    But you can’t reduce Jewish covenantal obligation to God to being a mere ethnicity. God did not call the Irish to live differently and follow covenant signs like circumcision, dietary law, Sabbath, and so on.

    Romans 11:29.


  7. rebyosh says:


    Great job so far. In addition to Monique’s recommendation to add some photos of women, it would be nice to see a few pics of the current Jerusalem campus, etc.

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