“Do or do not, there is no try”.

– Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

 

These words come from a non-Jewish source, actually a fictional character, Yoda from the Star Wars films. His words penned my George Lucas and spoken in the film, The Empire Strikes Back, during the training of Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi knight makes for a fitting challenge to this multi-part posting.

In his training to become a Jedi knight, Luke failed to do what he was being trained to do, opting at times to try but not to do. His older trainer Yoda, made it clear that his job was to do what needed to be done, even if the task was difficult or seeing impossible and so to our task of building a mature Messianic Judaism.

There is so much work that needs to be done for the furtherance of Messianic Judaism for the future including:

  • Establishing new Messianic synagogues
  • Training new leaders
  • Establishing Messianic halakha
  • Developing training materials for adults and children

All of these tasks are vitally important and now we need to seek to make these a reality.

I have for many years desired to see new Messianic synagogues in the San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles), being that there are currently no Messianic synagogues in the “Valley” that represent Messianic Judaism, there are a few Hebrew Christian congregations that were planted by Jewish missions.  This is an area with a good portion of Los Angeles’ Jewish population, especially towns like West Hills, Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Northridge and others, yet they are without a local representation of Messianic Judaism.

I would like to see at least 3 new Messianic synagogues planted in the San Fernando Valley:

  • West Valley: West Hills/Woodland Hills
  • Mid Valley: Northridge/Granada Hills
  • East Valley: Tarzana/Encino

This would bring a Messianic Judaism presence to this area of Jewish populace and it with local congregations help to build more community for the members of these congregations who are now driving to congregations that are 20 or more miles away, being that the Valley is about half way between Beth Emunah in Agoura Hills and Ahavat Zion in Beverly Hills. As I shared with a friend about the need for Messianic synagogues in the Valley I was told, “It would be too difficult and you would face opposition from the local Jewish leaders” (especially with about 4 Orthodox synagogues in Woodland Hills alone, along with 2 Conservative and 1 Reform). But then out of my childhood came the words of Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try”.
And this should be our focus we need to do what needs to be done for the building of a mature Messianic Judaism and do what is needed to be a light of our righteous Messiah in our communities. We can look at the difficulties and challenges with establishing new synagogues and then do nothing and thereby not do what is needed or we can look at the difficulties and challenges and take the risk and do the work that needs to be done.

I guess these needs call for people to take up the task to see that these needed synagogues are established and for those in leadership now it is a call for you to develop those within your synagogues to be the ones to start these synagogues.

There is so much work to be done to build a mature Messianic Judaism and this is a call for us to move to the doing.

May each of us do what we can to foster the future of Messianic Judaism and do our part to honor and glorify our God.

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3 thoughts on “Do or do not, there is no try.

  1. “I would like to see at least 3 new Messianic synagogues planted in the San Fernando Valley”

    And you don’t see this as a form of missionary activity to facilitate bringing Jews into your version Christianity, to a place where they can worship Jesus as their god? You have no problem that there are already real Jewish synagogues with real qualified rabbis who teach Torah in the area which may not be too happy with this? Who cares what the Jewish people may think or feel about any of these dreams and plans, you say?

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    1. Gene,

      This is a small dream for my local area. My bigger goal is to more than double the current number of UMJC synagogues to 200 in the next 5 years.

      I want to bring Messianic Jewish life into more communities and more accessible being that most are “commuter congregations” where people travel an hour or more to attend services. I would love for people to walk or have a short trip to synagogue rather than 1-3 hour drive each way that many people make to attend services, especially ones like mine.

      It is not as much about competition but serving the Jewish People and Messianic Jews that want to have a local shul to attend. I attend Ahavat Zion in Beverly Hills. There are at least 15 Orthodox synagogues/minyans, some meeting in homes, within 1 mile of our shul. It appears that the multiple shuls are not a problem there as Judaism seems to be thriving in the Pico-Robertson Area. I used to attend a Sephardic synagogue that had 2 other Orthodox synagogues within 1 mile (another about 2 blocks away). So it appears there is room for multiple synagogues in areas.

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      1. Yochanan, what’s the use of doubling UMJC congregations if on average there is only 10 to 20% of Jews in them or less (and a good number of current UMJC places don’t even have that many, as the condition for UMJC is 10 “Jews” , and one doesn’t even need to be a Jew halachicly, only to claim some ancestry, a great-grandpa, etc.

        Down in South Florida we have a huge Jewish community, and our messianic congregation was as “authentic” in the Jewish department as a messianics can get. We attracted plenty of Gentiles but we learned that Jews do not flock to messianic places. It’s not the Jesus freak era anymore. Another thing we learned is that if you make the place more traditional (far from “Orthodox”) in feel, you will start bleeding people – either those who are hungry for a real thing and leave to join a real shul or those who don’t want too Jewish a place. So you end up watering down services and observances to keep people happy.

        Also, there are very few young Jews who are coming into Messianic Movement. I learned this by attending UMJC conferences. Most teens and twenties I met there were not Jewish or with only a tenuous Jewish heritage. I know because I and my friend were in the habit of going around and putting Tefillin on people and we asked to make sure.

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