In response to Faydra L. Shapiro’s article, “Jewish Communities in Unexpected Forms,” (JPost, 9/16/18), Ms. Shapiro takes great pains to let us know she is not a sympathizer of what she labels Jewish Christians (the more appropriate term being Messianic Jews) and an individual who has been an observant Jew, committed to a life of Torah and mitzvot, so it’s all the more credible when hearing from her that this non-mainstream group of Jews deserves a second look rather than a rush to judgment.
Her own observations, as a result of recently being invited to a Messianic Jewish conference, has led her to conclude that a Jewish lifestyle, the perpetuity and continuity of Jewish culture, expression and tradition is foremost on the minds of those with whom she had an opportunity to become better acquainted. This especially has impressed her in light of other more disturbing observations concerning the non-Messianic Jewish community over whom she worries are not taking concerted steps to ensure their own Jewish survival.
As a Messianic Jew, on the eve of Succoth, I am a perfect example of someone whose house adorns an adjoining succa and who will host a holiday dinner for family and friends just as I did on the eve of Rosh HaShana and just as I do each year for Shavuoth, Passover, Chanukah and Tu b’Shvat, eating the traditional foods, reciting the traditional prayers and observing the holiday events as prescribed by the Jewish scriptures. As an individual who chose to make Israel her home, keeping kosher is a lifestyle made easy by the products sold in our supermarkets, and speaking Hebrew has become my first language. Marrying under a chuppa, by an orthodox rabbi is what I did, and passing on those values must have worked, because my own son decided to immigrate to Israel as well along with my grandchildren who are now in their fourth year of Hebrew schooling.
I would say that I am typical of the vast majority of today’s Messianic Jews, especially those who live in Israel, but among those who still live in the diaspora, I dare say that most, if not all, are Zionists with great loyalty and love for Israel, have aspirations to, perhaps, one day live in Israel and learn Hebrew and also live as observant Jews as it relates to holidays, diet and lifestyle. Because we choose to go to our own synagogues which recognize Yeshua as the Messiah does not make us any less committed to our culture, our land and our people, and to write us off as “no longer being Jewish,” is a decision which comes either from ignorance of not personally being acquainted with this community or just plain demonization and delegitimizing a large group for reasons of unjustified prejudice or intolerance, something to which, sadly, our Jewish people have fallen victim for centuries. How then can such hateful prejudice be perpetrated upon Jews by Jews – simply because they think differently?
It is time that the Jewish thought police recognize their own proclivity to herd Messianic Jews into a “you’re no longer Jewish ghetto” and mark them with the ever-identifying letters – NLJ (No longer Jewish). We are part of you and the practice of Orthodox rabbinic Judaism is not a pre-requisite to belonging to this tribe. Haven’t 2,000 years of persecution taught us anything? It is the whole reason that the State of Israel was created. It’s high time to welcome all Jews of every stripe to this wonderful, democratic and free country. Chag Sameach!