Year 01: The UMJC Conversion Position Paper – The Majority Position, Point 3d

MAJORITY POSITION

d. A conversion to Messianic Judaism would not be recognized in Israel nor among a majority of Jews in the Diaspora.
This point can be addressed in several ways, I will list three

 

1. Orthodox Judaism does not accept conversions as valid that were performed by Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic rabbis, yet all four movements continue to perform conversions.

Being that only conversions that are performed by an Orthodox rabbi are considered as valid by all Jews across the spectrum has not stopped the non-Orthodox movements to develop conversion programs. They perform their conversion rituals and recognize the conversions of other groups as valid. So then universal acceptance of conversion is not a bar to other Jewish groups, why should it be a bar to us?

2. Whether or not Israel recognizes our converts is not relevant, the fact that Israel has barred Jewish believers from citizenship hasn’t stopped Jewish believers from seeking to live in Israel.

We cannot decide our community standards and life to fit into the laws of Israel. Being that Messianic Jews have been barred from citizenship hasn’t stopped messianic Jews from seeking to immigrate to Israel.

3. A majority of Jews in the Diaspora do not recognize Messianic Jews as Jews.

Most Jews, I would say well over 90% would not consider Messianic Jews as Jews and Messianic Judaism as a valid expression of Jewish faith, does this stop us from being Messianic? The fact that our status as outsiders from the Jewish people has not hurt our claim to being who we are then why are we concerned with recognition of our conversions as valid? We need to do first and hope that the larger Jewish community will eventually recognize that we have truly committed non-Jews that are making a commitment to live with the Jewish people and dwell in Jewish space. As we have seen some inroads from the Jewish world to accept us as Jews who follow Yeshua, we hopefully can get recognition of these people that we are allowing to enter Am Israel.

So then we are already outside the Jewish people in the opinion of a majority of the Jewish community, yet we continue on as Messianic Jews, the question of the acceptance of Messianic conversions by the larger Jewish world should be less important than doing what is right for our community and the furtherance of Messianic Judaism.

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6 thoughts on “Year 01: The UMJC Conversion Position Paper – The Majority Position, Point 3d

  1. “your final paragraph shows disdain for those non-Jews that have made the difficult choice to voluntarily cast their lot with the Jewish People and face rejection by their birth family and from those like you that see theor commitment to Jewish life as just a “costume change”.”

    Some (not all) Jewish groups have accepted converts over the centuries, but they were still distinguished between (i.e., proselytes) including the most famous supposed “convert”, Ruth, maintained her God-given identity, never “becoming” Jewish. The point is no amount of study, a ceremony, or even acceptance by a group of Jews changes the fact that God specifically covenanted with a physical people – the seed of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. What if this actually matters?

    The “costume change” comment reflects the attraction I’ve seen of non-Jews-who-want-to-be-seen-as-Jews, to the garb of Orthodox Jews – for some strange reason the Chabad black and white is their go-to look.

    I don’t think it’s possible to “become Jewish” any more than one can become African or Chinese. Still, those groups have people from other ethnicites who join them in life.

    You say I show a “lack of understanding” the Jewish people, yet I have a Jewish family and know their experiences, perspectives, and realities are far different than non-Jews, and nothing changes the fact that God did not covenant with a religion (that anyone can join) but to a specific, ethnic people.

    You are inconsistent regarding OJ, simultaneously using them to support your position where it suits you, and rejecting them when it doesn’t. I’m simply saying I cannot find a defense for ever calling a non-descendant a “Jew” or covenant member, in scripture.

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  2. Your use of “we” reflects a big part of the problem. You’ve stated before that you aren’t Jewish, but use “we” as if you are Jewish. Acceptance of actual Jews who believe in Yeshua– by their relatives/people group – does not level the playing field for non Jews to “play” Jewish.

    I agree with your point about OJ, and not worrying what they accept etc. but I don’t agree that anyone can rewrite God’s Word or distinctions. He covenanted with the descendants of Abraham Isaac and Jacob and went to great lengths to define them. Converting to any form of Judaism doesn’t make one a Jew, again, regardless of what OJ says.

    There is a world of difference between a gentile convert to Judaism and a Jew, that no amount of learning or “costume change” can overcome. It involves Jewish relatives, perspectives, upbringing, experiences, conflicts, etc.

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    1. Sue,

      My use of “we” is used in my role as a speaker advocating for Messianic Judaism, something to which I have devoted the last 25+ years.

      You show a lack of understanding of who the Jewish People are and the important place of converts in the makeup of the Jewish People today, what you call “actual Jews”. Judaism has in the past and even more in the present been accepting and even seeking converts like the Pharisees in the time of Yeshua (Matt 23:15) and an article from last year by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (http://www.jewishjournal.com/rabbi_shmuley/item/jews_should_seek_converts) for 2 examples.

      One of the most respected of rabbis, with hundreds of Jewish schools named after him, Rabbi Akiva was the son of converts to Judaism.

      Sadly your final paragraph shows disdain for those non-Jews that have made the difficult choice to voluntarily cast their lot with the Jewish People and face rejection by their birth family and from those like you that see theor commitment to Jewish life as just a “costume change”.

      The 13th blessing of the daily Amidah even includes a blessing for the righteous converts, so each day observant Jews pray a word of blessing for those non-Jews that joined Israel by conversion.

      “To the righteous, the pious, the elders of Your people the house of Israel, the remnant of their scholars, the righteous converts, and to us, may Your compassion be aroused, Lord our God. Grant a good reward to all who sincerely trust in Your name. Set our lot with them, so that we may never be ashamed, for in You we trust. Blessed are You, Lord, who is the support and trust of the righteous” (Amidah, Blessing 13).

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  3. debbie-

    jews don’t see messianic judaism as any more credible because their is a conversion process, on the contrary, most view it as insult to injury that they are taking “playing with jewish ideas” to a new level.

    gentiles now are incorporated into messianic congregations, what more would a conversion add?

    i am not totally against messianic jewish conversions, but i just believe there is so much more work to be done to standardize it before something as controversial as conversions take place. many gentiles that enter these congregations often seem to have identity issues and see themselves as second class, they try to solve this with conversions when they are really just more suited for church.

    the real question is, what is the point? gentiles in messianic congregations can serve just as effectively in their current status. conversion may come, but let’s work on the major broken places in messianic judaism first.

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  4. I agree that the priority must be to establish messianic judaism as a credible judaism and that the worst thing we can do is to insult the wider Jewish community. However, I have two comments. First, if we wish to demonstrate to the wider community that we are a judaism a credible conversion process should actually be a high priority. This would both raise the bar within messianic congregations and show the wider community that we do view ourselves as distinct from the
    broader Church in that gentiles in messianic congregations are not necessarily automatically incorporated into the congregation as they would be in any church. Second, high standards for conversion similar to Orthodox or Conservative standards would definitely not be an insult to the wider community. On the contrary, they would see that we seek to honor the God of Israel in continuity with Jewish life and tradition.

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  5. “doing what is right for our community”…our community includes judaism. our first goal is not to make gentiles who want to become jews happy, it is to first establish messianic judaism as a credible judaism, or at least as a religion that respects judaism. engaging in conversions will be an insult to the wider jewish community who has had many real reasons to disregard messianic judaism because of very un-jewish practices it has engaged in and tolerated.

    many Jews view do not view messianic Jews as one of them until they get to know them and one by one see their committment to judaism. what mainstream Jews do not trust is the Hebrew Christian movememt that they ascribe to messianic judaism.

    before we consider conversion, the movement has a lot of work to do and this seems like one of it’s lowest priorities.

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