Though I have been a Messianic Jew for over 20 years, I still remember my many decades as a mainstream Jewish woman. Feeling the wounding of millennia of anti-Semitism and marginalization is still part of my DNA, helping me to empathize with my Jewish brothers and sisters as we discuss Yeshua and Christianity. I can easily empathize with their difficulty with these topics.
It literally took a miraculous encounter for me to be able to go emotionally, viscerally, from a place of fear due to memories and stories of personal experiences of anti-Semitism, to emotionally, viscerally, knowing the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah. That barrier of fear must be broken before we Jews can hear what is being said about Yeshua. To add to that, often when I’m speaking to the gatekeepers – rabbis, Jewish organization leaders – in the mainstream Jewish community, I sense the reason for their pushback is actually fear, not just based on history, but fear that what I am saying may be the truth, a truth too overwhelming to even consider.
Each of us have filters that inescapably shape how we interpret words that we hear and read. On the emotionally charged topic of Yeshua and His place in our Jewish and Christian histories, the more we can understand each other’s perspective, the more likely we are to bridge the gap often based on mutual misunderstandings. Conversation leads to understanding.
As part of my personal walk, once I became a Messianic Jew, I learned how amazing our Christian brothers and sisters really are. There were misunderstandings I had, based on fear, and teachings, that had to be overcome for me to be able to get beyond the filter of my upbringing. I had experienced anti- Semitism as a child, and it’s still in the headlines. Yet times are changing.
When I was a very new believer in Yeshua, I couldn’t wait to buy a piece of Messianic Jewish jewelry. As I was admiring a Messianic Seal pendant at a local Christian bookstore, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Are you Jewish?” My first reaction was extreme fear. I remember my stomach clenching, my heart racing, my face flushing. I presumed she was Christian since we were in a Christian bookstore. I thought, “Oh no! She knows I’m Jewish! She hates me! She thinks my people killed her God!” That was still my reflex even despite my new knowledge of Him. What a shock when after I quietly said “Yes” she said “Praise God!” and proceeded to talk about the Jewish roots of Christianity.
What an amazingly joyful road I was about to embark upon to learn of the growing group of Christians who understand the beautiful partnership we are in together to share our understanding of Yeshua. I now appreciate beyond words the blessing our Christian brothers and sisters have been to us. Not only have they sustained and furthered our common beliefs but they have supported Messianic Judaism, frankly at a time when our own mainstream Jewish community has not, a timeframe that continues even today.
Recently our wonderful Ellen Gorsey sent me an article from “Israel Today” which had a link to an “Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity” signed in 2015 by a significant number of Orthodox Jewish rabbis from Israel, the United States, and throughout the world. Here is the link and some amazing excerpts:
(Remember, these are Orthodox Jewish rabbis!)
“. . . Rabbi Jacob Emden wrote that ‘Jesus brought a double goodness to the world. On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically . . . and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah. . . “
“. . . Now that the Catholic Church has acknowledged the eternal Covenant between G-d and Israel, we Jews can acknowledge the ongoing constructive validity of Christianity as our partner in world redemption . . . “
“. . . Both Jews and Christians have a common covenantal mission to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty, so that all humanity will call on His name and abominations will be removed from the earth. . . “
“. . . Rabbi Hirsch also taught that the Talmud puts Christians with regard to the duties between man and man on exactly the same level as Jews. They have a claim to the benefit of all the duties not only of justice but also of active human brotherly love. . . “
“. . . In imitating G-d, Jews and Christians must offer models of service, unconditional love and holiness. We are all created in G-d’s Holy Image and Jews and Christians will remain dedicated to the Covenant by playing an active role together in redeeming the world. . .“
A long list of signatories follows with an invitation to other Orthodox rabbis to join.
The conversations have continued, even to recently as referenced in the “Israeli Times”article. Yet this statement of reconciliation is paradigm shifting as these rabbis are now advocating seeing beyond one’s personal filters, putting oneself into the other’s shoes, seeing a greater purpose the most important directive of all. As they do so, they can also see Yeshua in new ways. Words of healing. As the children stop fighting, what wondrous works the Father will do, through Yeshua.
So much amazing movement in the right directions – more in the Jewish community beginning to understand Yeshua’s continuous life as a Jew, more in the Christian community better understanding Scripture passages that clarify the ongoing role of Judaism and the historical context of the apostolic writings, each working with the other for a greater purpose, to work together in love of the other – all responding to HaShem’s orchestration of the day when all will understand what it really means to love one’s brothers and sisters.
Clearly many in the Christian community are working to overcome the fear and distrust that separate us. And if such a long list of Orthodox rabbis can overcome these barriers and be able to see the bigger truths, how much moreso should we as Messianic Jews be able to advocate for this God-directed partnership of Jews and Christians together. One of our purposes is actually to do just that, to be the bridge between these two beautiful communities, to help dispel stereotypes and correct misinformation, to be messengers of God’s Love with hearts filled with the love of Yeshua.
We are in those times. What a time to be alive!