August 16 – 2010

Caspari Center Media Review – August 16, 2010


During the week covered by this review, we received 1 article on the subjects of Messianic Jews.


This week’s Review contained a relatively positive article about the Messianic Jewish community in Israel, as part of a series on “Who is a Jew?,” which included Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative streams.


Messianic Jews

Yediot Ahronot, August 16, 2010

Under the headline, “Yeshua superstar,” Yoaz Hendel looked at the Messianic Jewish community in Israel as part of a series on “Who is a Jew?” “They circumcise their children, celebrate bar mitzvah, get married at the rabbinate, but they believe in Yeshua as their messiah. 15,000 Messianic Jews currently live in Israel. If you met them in the street or the army, you probably wouldn’t know who they are … A shabbat table loaded with food, the father of the family bends his head and blesses for the food and a good life, everyone holds hands and answers amen. If this scene had been in English, you might have thought that it was an episode of ‘A Little House on the Prairie’ – except that the prairie is the moshav Yad HaShmonah near Jerusalem and those praying are native Hebrew-speaking Israelis – Messianic Jews. The meaning of Messianic Jew derives from faith in Yeshu or Yeshua, as his Israeli followers call him – on the understanding that what is written in the New Testament is no less correct than that which is written in the Tanakh. They are not Christians, but Jews according to halakhah. They hold Orthodox circumcisions, bar mitzvahs in a unique style, and get married without explosive declarations at the chief rabbinate. At home and in their congregations on shabbat, however, they regard Yeshua as a superstar … In Israel … they carry no particular signifying marks – some of them wear beards and tzitzit [fringes] with a sky-blue thread, some wear yarmulkes and keep the commandments of the Torah, others are completely unidentifiable and keep very few prohibitions and commandments. They are fervent Zionists, who make sure they serve in a meaningful way in the army – where some of them are pilots, members of elite units, and company commanders. But as a minority in our midst – due in part to the historical Jewish fear of missionaries – they keep a low profile. Yeshu was born a Jew – there’s no discussion about that. He also finished his ministry on earth as a Jew. But over what transpired after that – his legacy – a large theological controversy exists. History books customarily teach about the first hundred years of the Christian/common era as being a period of revolts and messiahs within Palestinian Judaism. The period during which early Christianity was born – and with it the inter-religious hostility, bloodshed, and anti-Semitism. Then, the world was divided into Jews and Christians – but what is omitted from the history books are these original Jews who believed in Yeshu/Yeshua and continued to believe in him as Jews even after his death. These same Jews are the role model for the Messianic Jewish community in Israel in 2010. Jonathan bar David, 30, fourth generation of Messianic Jews and a construction engineering student at the Technion, was educated at Yad haShemonah on the knees of Yeshua the Messiah. He studied in secular schools, served in the paratroopers and in the regular army as a deputy company commander, was released, went on a trip abroad, studied – all the while being accompanied by Yeshua in his faith … I try and clarify how a person remains a believer when he grows up in a typical Israeli secular environment, and Bar David explains that all the education takes place in the home … Whoever tries to find a guiding line in Bar David’s lifestyle will encounter difficulties. He doesn’t work on shabbat, but he does ‘light fire.’ He takes pains to attend classes at the congregation and even teaches Bible to the youth, fasts on the Day of Atonement, but he doesn’t keep kosher … [prayer] centers such as these are spread across the country – prayer halls resembling synagogues, in some of which you can find a Torah ark and scroll alongside the New Testament … [Asher] Intrater speaks of the growing movement in Israel, with 120 congregations and new members. More, according to him, than the Conservatives and Reform. In his view, ‘those who join us come from the secular public and are searching for God without halakhah, and on the other side, religious people who want to find freedom but also to remain with something from God.’ The Messianic Jewish movement began to take off right after the conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, when the prophecy was fulfilled … The fervent faith also leads to enthusiastic Zionism. All of Intrater’s sons chose to serve in elite units. Relative to those who need to live with a constant fear of the radical Orthodox, members of the Messianic Jewish community are pretty optimistic. Perhaps because the same Jew who walked around here two thousand years ago between the Galilee and Jerusalem believed that it’s always more worthwhile turning the other cheek than raising an outcry.”