This time six years and two months ago, the Rosh Pina Project was but a twinkle in the eye of Messianic bloggers who wanted to assert a few things.
We have developed into a blogging collective with several writers contributing content, and over 1.2 million views since our June 2009 launch.
We set up RPP in the months following the bombing of Ami Ortiz. We had seen the paucity of media understanding of Messianic Jews and we wanted to put this right.
The pressure and negativity against Messianic Jews was such that few people wanted to publicly discuss the persecution of believers in Israel, for fear of the consequences.
But how could we end up in a place whereby Israeli children were almost murdered because of their parents’ faith, and the perpetrator thought he was pleasing God?
It was this question that sparked our interest in Kahanism, “Redemption” and the anti-Messianic ideology espoused by some radical haredim. We looked at some of the theological and philosophical assumptions underlying certain political prejudices.
In Israel, you cannot turn to the right or to the left without seeing a yellow poster of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, declaring the spiritual leader of the Chabad movement to be King Messiah.
Similarly, graffiti and street music proclaiming the chant “Na Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me’Uman” is ubiquitous.
This phrase is at once a celebration of the mystical, quasi-divine powers of the Breslov Rebbe Nachman from beyond the grave, and a prayer which when spoken aloud grants salvation to the believing Jew, according to the teachings of the late Saba, whom many Hasidic Jews also think is King Messiah.
So we have two deceased Jewish teachers who are thought of as godlike, messianic figures in Israel, and their followers are not considered controversial. Meanwhile, Jewish believers in Yeshua are dismissed as idolators!
We think it is both logical and intellectually consistent for Messianic Jews to be accepted as Jews by the wider community. Yet our main concern is for Messianic Jews as citizens of Israel or of Western countries to be treated with dignity, as human beings who are allowed to express their faith peacefully and worship without persecution.
We took great care to couple our concern over anti-Messianic activity with a wider consideration of Christian theology towards Israel.
We focused on Stephen Sizer’s associations and public statements to such an extent that he accused RPP of being part of a shadowy Israel lobby! The Church of England eventually took note of the campaign we took a lead on, and gave Sizer a choice between his activism or his parish. He chose his parish and apologised publicly. Now Reverend Sizer is proving to be a controversial issue in the wider public, thanks to his ties to the potential Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
We highlighted problems in Bethlehem Bible College, the Lausanne Movement, World Vision, the Church of England, the Methodist church, and other institutions which allowed themselves to be used by an agenda deeply hostile to Israel’s wellbeing.
We have tended to let the quality of our work speak for itself. This is reflected in how RPP has become considered as a credible media source, being quoted in the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Ynet News, the London Jewish Chronicle, Christianity Today, Compass News, Israel Today and other sources.
Since we began blogging, we have seen many positive developments.
The Church of England censuring Sizer is one of them.
- Direct harassment of Messianic Jews seems to be a lot more reduced. This especially follows the death of Yad L’Achim’s head Dov Lipschitz, and the arrest of Yad L’Achim leader Binyamin Klugger for price tag activities. Yad L’Achim volunteer Jack Teitel (who tried to murder the Ortiz family) was successfully prosecuted and sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence; convicted also of two prior murders of Arabs in 1997. The Israeli public has become more familiar with Messianic Jews, and the residents of Arad have stood up to haredim bullying a defenceless woman with a small business who happened to believe in Yeshua.
- Messianic Jews have become better known in Israeli public life; the amazingly successful Moti and Eitan of One For Israel are quickly becoming household names, and Messianic Jews have even thrived in X Factor-like singing contests.
- Israeli Messianic Jewish teachers have begun to distance themselves from the Musalaha leaderships’s support for Hamas terror tunnels as “food and drink tunnels”. Messianics are mostly preferring to focus on positive Arab and Aramean Christian initiatives.
- The Lausanne Movement denounced antisemitism, removed a vile anti-Israel article from its website and withdrew its support for With God On Our Side, after we highlighted problems with the movement.
- The vitality of Messianic Jews on social media is a marvel to behold – not just Moti and Eitan, but also the excellent Avner Valer and the Messianic Drew.
- Happily, strong Israeli Christian voices have emerged, such as the Israel Empowerment Lobby, the Christian Empowerment Council of Gabriel Naddaf, Hananya Naftali, Shadi Khaloul, and FIRM.
- Israel has begun tackling Far Right incitement in a more meaningful way, as evidenced by the recent arrests of Honenu activists. The political will to ensure churches are no longer attacked by arsonists now appears appears evident.
So we are encouraged by all this, and appreciate the breadth of Messianic and pro-Israel believing voices available online. We are happy with our role as Messianic citizen bloggers, and we are still inspired and motivated to write.
We are not shy of debating the shortcomings of the Messianic movement or controversial and taboo issues. RPP has been the source of many a long debate on a diverse range of theological issues.
We are concerned for the spiritual vitality of our movement, and we would caution that a lack of focus on the Brit haHadashah’s clear teachings about Yeshua’s divinity, the triumph of grace, and the current priestly order of Melchizedek can lead disciples of Yeshua to veer off in unhelpful directions.
We believe that a Messianic Jew is not defined as such by his intellectual or practical understanding of halachah, but rather by his dynamic and cosmic understanding of Yeshua the Jewish Messiah, and how he allows Yeshua to guide his discipleship.
We also have welcomed many professional anti-Messianic polemicists to our comments section such as Mark Powers, Gavriel Sanders, Penina Taylor, Eli Cohen, Yisroel Blumenthal, and our favourite, Moshe Shulman.
We love debate and want our comments section to be a place for respectable dialogue; we welcome a range of Messianic, secular and haredi voices to this space below-the-line.
Refreshed from our mini-break, we look forward to blogging again on relevant issues. You can contact us if you need anything, you want us to cover something, or you want to suggest content for us to publish at – roshpinaproject AT gmail DOT com.
Thank you for being with us in this 6-year-plus blogging journey.
May Yeshua richly bless all our readers in His grace.