Embracing Judaism is the title of a book on converting to Judaism, one of the many books for potential converts to Judaism to read as they contemplate or prepare for conversion.
This post will seek to ask us are we ready to embrace Judaism?
Are we ready to fully see Messianic Judaism as a Judaism?
Or are we content just to use the name without embracing all that this name implies?
For building a mature Messianic Judaism, we need to embrace Judaism as our identity core or our “genus” as Dr. Mark Kinzer so aptly put in his booklet, The Nature of Messianic Judaism, with Messianic being our “species”. I avoided biology in high school and college but what I know of biology the genus is the main grouping with the species being a grouping or kind of the genus. For those more familiar with the arts rather than the sciences, Dr. Kinzer was clearly putting forward that Messianic Judaism in it’s authentic and mature form is a Judaism with Messianic being the type. Messianic is the adjective describing the noun Judaism.
An important and I will say a vital step in our maturation is the move toward establishing a rite of passage for the acceptance of a Judaism life for non-Jews, more commonly known in the larger Jewish world as conversion.
A Messianic Jewish conversion program is a clear acceptance of our place as a Judaism and the embracing of our identity as more than just a Jewish contextualized form of Christianity but as we truly need to be a Judaism, grounded in Jewish space that honors the Torah, respects Jewish tradition and glorifies Yeshua. This is a step that we must take if we are going to fully embrace our place as a Judaism and to fully accept our place in the destiny of the Jewish people within a recognizable Judaism.
For the detractors this is not a matter of seeking the approval of the Jewish community but to fully embrace the identity that God has given to the Jewish people to live as a Jewish community and like Judaism throughout it’s history to allow for those non-Jews with a sincere calling and drawing to cast their lot with the Jewish people to have that opportunity. It is one thing to each Shavuot to read from and study the Book of Ruth, which is Jewish custom and laud Ruth the “good Moabite” who joined with the people of Israel and grandmother of King David who said some of the most powerful words in the Bible:
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God”. (Ruth 1:16 NASB)
But if this is where we leave the convert to Judaism to a revered person in the past are we not therefore not fully accepting our place as a Judaism and even worse as a “Judaism” unlike any other that does not allow the committed non-Jew to fully join with the Jewish people and embrace Judaism as their own.If we are intent on building a Messianic Judaism for the future first off we must embrace our identity as a Judaism and an important part of this identity embracing is the accepting of a rite of passage/Messianic Jewish conversion process for the few non-Jews in our midst who like Ruth share a deep calling to fully accepting Jewish life and having their commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people recognized by the Messianic Judaism community under the guidance and oversight of respected Messianic rabbis.This is something that we must do if we seek to build a mature Messianic Judaism for the future!