Statement of Defence by Messianic Jews who attended CaTC 2014

Thanks to one of our readers for letting us know about this self-defence against all the criticism they faced by attending CaTC offered by the CaTC 2014 Messianic Jews, hosted on Kehila.com.

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Oded Shoshani (left) at CaTC 2014

First thing to notice is that those who signed this all claim to be Israeli in the title and that they all took part in CaTC. However one is not an Israeli citizen and does not live in Israel and only three of the five “took part” in the sense of having a slot to speak in, another was invited to offer a prayer. Not a good start really!

But on the positive side we at RPP have long called for an honest and balanced alternative to CaTC and can warmly agree with this call in point 3. However it must be clear that such alternatives have already be taking place for years as we blogged on here.

We call upon our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters to promote a similar conference with equivalent quality of presentations, organization and publicity, and to invite Palestinian Christian contributors with different views to participate.”

So far CaTC has been primarily an English language affair, alienating Messianic Jewish Hebrew and Russian first language speakers, so this statement being translated into both Hebrew and Russian is a good sign that CaTC.ALT can speak to a much wider Israeli Messianic Jewish community. Such a future CaTC alternative ought really to primarily be in Hebrew and Arabic if it is truly to be reconciliation between Israel Messianic Jews and Arab Palestinian Christians brethren and sisters!

 

Summary Statement by Israeli Jewish attendees at CATC 2014

Daniel Juster | April 14, 2014 |

Summary Statement

As Messianic Jews who took part in the 2014 “Christ at the Checkpoint” Conference in Bethlehem:

​1.       ​We received ​a genuinely warm welcome from our hosts. The conference organizers extended their hospitality, treated us with respect, and gave us a fair hearing as we presented our own perspectives on theology, politics and reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

2.     We appreciate the sincere and unflagging attempts by some in our Messianic community to persuade us not to attend. However, after much prayer, counsel and reflection, each of us came to the conviction that the Lord was guiding us to attend. We call upon our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters and those who identify with them to recognize that there are legitimate issues where believers must be free to disagree, while maintaining bonds of mutual respect, affection, sympathy and love.

3.     We appreciated the opportunity to participate in this conference, while at the same time disagreeing with some of the general aims of the conference. We expressed these disagreements and stated our firm convictions about the election of the Jewish people and our destiny in the Land. We have had much positive feedback on our contributions. We call upon our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters to promote a similar conference with equivalent quality of presentations, organization and publicity, and to invite Palestinian Christian contributors with different views to participate.

4.     We see the need of our movement to grow in its ability to handle disagreement on issues such as “Christ at the Checkpoint” with spiritual and personal maturity, and biblical and theological integrity, both among ourselves and with those outside our movement. To this end, we call on our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters and those who identify with them to provide appropriate forums where these matters may be discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and at which different positions on this topic may be discussed while maintaining the bonds of unity that we have in the Messiah.

5.     We acknowledge the problematic and controversial nature of the conference for many of our brothers and sisters in the Messiah. However, we are convinced of the need to seek godly relationships with our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters, and appreciate also the difficulties they have with us and our positions. Therefore we strongly encourage both our Palestinian Christian and our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters to engage more fully with the reality of the one new man in Messiah, actively seeking to live according to the life and teaching of our Messiah Yeshua. To this end we commit ourselves, believing this to be a strategic priority for the maturing of our movement, and to be a means of blessing and hope for the whole body of Messiah.

Daniel Juster

Evan Thomas

Lisa and David Loden

Oded Shoshani

Dr. Richard Harvey (UK)

IDF Officer Sets the Facts Straight about Security Crossings

Israel Today carries this story:

Messianic Officer Sets Checkpoint Record Straight

While Palestinian Christians obsessively complain about the so-called “atrocities suffered at the checkpoints,” Captain Joshua Lazarus (pictured), the Messianic Jewish officer in charge of training guards for the checkpoints, gives the real story in a short new video clip produced by the IDF. (See below)

Captain Lazarus oversees the training of all the soldiers responsible for guarding the border crossings and roadblocks along the Arab towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem.

Every day, tens of thousands of men, women and children pass through the checkpoints and road blocks guarded by Lazarus’ soldiers. “Most of them are on their way to work, or visiting friends or family, or buying groceries,” he says in private remarks to Israel Today. “There are pregnant women rushing up to the hospital in Jerusalem, and angry taxi drivers trying to make some money. We have to deal with Palestinian Authority officials, UN diplomats, international media, donkeys, farmers, just about everything and anything passes through here.”

These crossings are a microcosm of all that is good, bad, and unfathomable in the lives of East Jerusalem’s Arabs, and it all passes daily under the alert and formidable gaze of Captain Lazarus’ soldiers.

“We’re trying to weed out any terrorists,” Lazarus explains. “Since Israel built the security wall, these checkpoints are now the main targets for potential terrorists trying to get through unnoticed amongst the hundreds of people passing through every day. We have to check each and every one. A lot of them are angry and try to push through without being checked. It’s a tough job.”

Some believe that the constant friction between the soldiers and Palestinians at these roadblocks causes more agitation, hatred and even terrorism in the long run. “Sure, the people get angry at us, and sometimes it gets pretty rough,” says Lazarus. “But what alternatives do we have? How else can we stop the bombs and terrorists? Sometimes we just have to put up with a bad situation because it could be worse. It’s our job.”

“It is a tense and complicated situation for these young soldiers. This is why I wanted to be an officer in the first place,” says the young captain. “A lot of my friends went to be paratroopers or air force pilots,” Lazarus continues. “For me, this is a really important job. We are dealing with a huge problem here, and nobody knows how to fix it. Not many soldiers want to do this job. Everyday I need to remind them about how important their job is. I’ve come to realize that we don’t live in a world where everything goes the way you want,” he says. “Serving here wakes me up to the harsh realities of life in Israel and just how complicated it can be.”

Israel turns 66 this month and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting an early retirement from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Peace talks are going nowhere, again. Whatever the future holds, getting to know Messianic Captain Joshua Lazarus and some of his soldiers out there on the checkpoints has given this old man, at least, something to be proud of.

Watch Captain Lazarus’ video interview with the IDF Spokesman:

Focusing on what Unites Jews and Evangelicals

Originally posted on Dr. Mitch Glaser:

A few nights ago, a dialogue between best-selling evangelical author Joel C. Rosenberg and Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Riskin took place in an Orthodox Synagogue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

I attended the dialogue and am convinced that it was a significant event! I have been a believer for forty-two years, I come from a traditional Jewish background, and I never thought I would hear a clear testimony for Jesus in a modern Orthodox synagogue (the type of synagogue in which I was raised!)

Joel did a wonderful job of explaining the Gospel and was winsome and generous in his approach. Rabbi Riskin is an Orthodox Jew who has a better-than-average understanding of evangelical Christians; he started an organization, based in Israel, which engages Evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox and others in dialogue. I am sure he understands that believers, like Joel, will not shy away from making the Gospel message…

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No “Christian Seders,” Please!

155Sicut Locutus Est blogged this: No “Christian Seders,” Please!

There is much to commend in this essay, not least its warning against supersessionism in over-eager Christian attempts to claim the Seder for Jesus and the Church whilst implicitly writing the Jewish people out of the story. Messianic Jews must remember that even in a Messianic seder, the primary memorial is deliverance from Egyptian slavery even if most Messianic Jewish seders will include mention of Messianic aspects and note where Yeshua would have introduced the Lord’s Super.

So why is a Messianic seder different from all other seders? Well they shouldn’t really be that different if the Exodus is remembered the way the Almighty commanded.

Numbers 9:1: 1The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2“Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”

Here is the article:

No “Christian Seders,” Please!

With Holy Week on the horizon,  many Christian congregations have started announcing Seder dinners to observe Maundy Thursday. People of good will recognize this as a devout and well-intentioned attempt to honor the Jewishness of Jesus, and the Jewish roots of the Christian communion meal which was, Christians say, “instituted” by Jesus on the night he was handed over–a night that fell, according to the gospel accounts, during the annual Passover observance. It is understandable, therefore, that Christians would desire to commemorate this institution with a nod to its original context.

There are many difficulties with the practice of a Seder meal by Christians, however (the biggest being that a Seder is simply not for Christians, but we’ll get to that later). The other biggie is that we really do not know for sure what the “original context” of Jesus’ ‘last supper’ was.  We think we do: since Sunday School we’ve been taught it was a Passover meal, or Seder; but scholars continue to debate the precise character of the meal Jesus shared with his disciples that night. One thing we know for sure, however, is that, although it may have been a Passover meal of some sort, it was not a Seder in the modern sense. We know this because the introduction into Jewish ritual life of the Seder we know today came after the time of Jesus.

Modern day Jewish celebrations of the Passover are a melding of traditions that arose shortly after the destruction of the Temple (70 CE), through Late Antiquity and into Middle Ages. It is a developing tradition, too, with additions being made to the haggadah even to this day. Ironically, some scholars believe that the modern Seder developed in part at least as a reaction and resistance to the growing influence of the Christian church and its sacred meal. If that is true, Christians celebrating a Seder (as Jews celebrate Seders today) are celebrating, at least in part, a meal that was meant to criticize them and establish the distinctiveness of Jewish rites over against Christian ones. This anti-Christian critique is no longer prominent in contemporary Seders, but this curious history of the Seder still makes for a polemical mish-mash that, if known by the organizers of “Christian Seders,” might take away some of the romance of the night!

So… to hold a Seder as a way to commemorate the “background” meal Jesus shared with his disciples and which he “turned into” a Communion meal (as I have heard some Christians say) is anachronistic—it is a tradition Jesus did not know. More precisely and significantly, however (as I said above), it is a tradition that developed into its present forms after Jews and Christians had taken separate religious paths—a tradition, therefore, that Jews and those who became Christian never shared in the first place. It belongs to Jews only and distinguishes them as Jews in ways that make any Christian usage of it seem presumptuous, especially given the fraught and violent history of Christian usurpation and replacement of all things Jewish that we call “supersessionism.”  Given this history and this ongoing supplanting of the Jewish covenant, I wonder if we would do better to spend our time reflecting on what often befell Jews in Holy Week in many places in medieval Western and Eastern Europe—the pogrom—than to spend time appropriating one of their characteristic rituals and making it our own.

Holding a Seder in a Christian church as a Christian event during Christian Holy Week is dicey, then. Dicier still is  celebrating a Eucharist in the course of the Seder or finishing the Seder with Communion. This  sends an unintentional but real message that the important thing about this Seder is what (we suppose erroneously) Jesus did to transform it and make it into something else. In other words, what we imply is that the Seder’s real value is to point towards or usher in communion– that communion is really what it’s all about, when all else is said and done. This is to write Jews out of their own story. We have already succeeded in writing them out by the way we often use Old Testament texts in preaching and teaching—let’s not turn their meal into our meal for our devotional agendas, just because it feels more authentic or rootsy for us to do so.

To avoid “writing Jews out of their own story” when we engage in a “Christian” reading of the Old Testament, then, we need to operate on two levels at once: on the level of the text as an expression of a particular people’s religious experience, which is not ours; and on the level of the text as the Church hears it in the context of its its particular experience of Christ.

This double-vision may oblige us, for example, to refrain from a too-easy juxtaposition in liturgy of certain texts, OT and NT, that suggests that the NT text explains or fulfills the OT text in a way that exhausts all other possibilities of interpretation (this happens way too frequently in some lectionary pairings).

It may oblige us to speak of certain figures and events in the Hebrew Scriptures less as archetypes, allegories, or foreshadowing of Christ and his ministry, and more as evidence of the consistent pattern of God’s activity throughout ”salvation history,” with which our Christian experience of God in Christ is wholly consistent .

Full article can be read here

Some Controversial thoughts on leadership

This is a guest post from Anna Wikmann

Some Controversial thoughts on leadership

In the comments section of my previous post “Them Jews and Those Christians” I wrote a comment that I thought would send angry rants and smear campaigns my way (as I am writing this, there has been no response yet to this comment, that I am aware of).  In my comment I wrote about women getting out of hand if there are not enough strong men to lead a congregation. I also wrote that I feel safest in a congregation where there is a Minyan.

No, this is not a post arguing for or against WOW1. If you are a headstrong gal and like adorning your arms with leather straps and have your blue-white tallit sway softly in the wind while you shuckel when davening2, then by all means, just don’t force me to go along with this fad, cause tzitzit3 totally do not flatter my figure.

Anyway, a Minyan is the term used for a group of at least 10 Jewish men who pray publicly together. In Orthodox Judaism, this is the minimum requirement for running public services in a synagogue. There are other streams of Judaism where Jewish women can be counted to a Minyan as well. Now my aim is definitely not to proselytize all MJ’s to become Frum, but I want us to consider the wisdom that traditional rabbinic Judaism has to offer and perhaps I would like to suggest …oh gosh this is where it gets controversial… that we might be able to learn something from them, after all, centuries of Torah study cannot have been in vain.

I believe that our Heavenly Father created us Man and Woman with our own special talents and abilities (and totally awesome different anatomies) to serve side by side and I don’t believe that The Holy One, blessed be his Name, intended for us to be bickering around about the Man vs. Woman issue. I think this is when our worst problems arise when we get things like these mixed up. For instance when the guy refuses to man up and take responsibility (I quote Adam: “…But the woman gave it to me…”), then you get woman who has to take over because of her husband’s apathy and cowardice, forcing her to become bigger and the husband smaller. Women are not meant to take over or lead, they are meant to stay in the kitchen, whip up some deliciously wholesome food and make sure the kids are washed and fed…. Just kidding. Even in Judaism there are stipulations that if there is no able man around, a woman is allowed, even obligated to perform necessary mitzvot4 that are normally performed by a man.

I have a couple of years of leading (youth and young adult fellowships) experience in the believers’ world behind me. I know what I’m talking of when I say that we women go weird5 when men refuse to be men. I know the pain, the disappointment and the feeling of panic when seeing an able man refusing to be a man. I was once left alone with much responsibility resting on my scrawny shoulders. Feeling this weight was overwhelming, and I know, at least now in retrospect, that when things get overwhelming I get emotional. I felt like a mother hen trying to desperately keep her rebellious chicks in check and with every rebellion I lost a piece of my cool, making me eventually totally uncool, and soon it was just a huge chaotic mess of flying feathers. Whose fault was it? Was it the fault of guy who refused to read the eshet chayil6 on Shabbat or was it my fault for taking on the whole load of leading, organizing and teaching, which was obviously not meant to be carried alone? This is a question that makes just as much sense as the ‘which came first, the chicken, or the egg?’-question.

No worries though, the group recovered and so did I, and what’s more, the eshet chayil is being read on Shabbat, the girls and boys sit rosy-cheeked at lavishly set Shabbat dinners and sing songs of praise in beautiful unison. This only started to happen, though, once I learnt to let go and allowed the guys to take up their positions as men again and everything sort of started to slowly fall into place. Having gone through that, I am still not quite sure what my place is in this crazy world. At least I know for sure that I know nothing42.

But, back to the Minyan, back to my point and back to Constantinople…okay maybe not that far back…

I am sure there are many ways to define a Minyan. And now this is where I am about to contradict myself, but I would even say that a healthy MJ Minyan should consist of able8 Jews as well as able Gentiles, with perhaps even an able woman thrown in for extra flavour. I know that leadership is a heart and backbreaking ordeal, and no one, and no homogeneous group, should be caused to carry it alone. Just like the 12 tribes were all arranged around the tabernacle I see that the function of a minyan is to keep the group centred and stable around the centre, which is Yeshua. This is facilitated by the tension caused when diverse individuals pull in all the different directions.

Perhaps our beloved movement will one day become less awkward once we figure this and many other controversies out, and I will be able to tell my grandkids, rocking to and fro on my rocking chair (while knitting RPP socks), that I was Messianic before it was ‘cool’.

Gut Woch and Chag Pesach Sameach to you Mentshes9!

 

WOW= Women of the Wall, a group of Jewish religious feminists who cause a lot of hullabaloo at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for doing things that traditionally only men are allowed to do.

2 Shuckel while Davening: (Yiddish) Shuckeling is the distinctive rocking/bowing back and forth with the upper body while standing. Kinda like old school rockers head-banging to Jimi Hendrix playing live, except a little more toned down in tempo and vigour. Davening is the Yiddish word for praying.

Tzitzit: Tassels on the corners of the Tallit (prayer shawl).

Mitzvot: (sg. Mitzvah) Commandments, the act of carrying out a commandment.

5 Weird: I initially wrote a less kind word. My point is that I’m not trying to illustrate a pretty-cute kind of weird, I am talking about unpleasant craziness .

Eshet Chayil: Woman of valour. A song of praise read by men to their wives on shabbat. Found in Proverbs 31.

42 Nothing: I know some stuff, but I can’t claim yet to know the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything else…I look forward to meeting My Maker one day and having a propah tacheles with him about certain stuff.

8Anyone got any ideas on how define ‘able’? Keep answers concise please!! My eyes can’t focus on long comments without paragraphs.

9 Gut Woch: Good week. Sunday is the first day of the week. Mentshes: (sg. Mentsh) Awesome people.

Jews For Jesus use Shoah imagery in new evangelistic video

Jews For Jesus have produced a new video, called “That Jew Died For You.” It features two Jewish women being sent to do hard labour in a Polish concentration/extermination camp, and Jesus being sent to die. Aside from the anachronisms, Jesus as a healthy 30-something man would have more likely been sent to work rather than to death. Meanwhile, emotional music plays over the background.

There is definitely something in the idea that God understands the horrors of Auschwitz, because of His own death and his active and willing participation in receiving suffering.

However, JFJ’s video is clearly designed to elicit an emotional response, and whilst some may be moved by the concept of Jesus suffering in a concentration camp, it seems to distract from the main message of Yeshua being our atoning sacrifice.

There are Holocaust survivors who recognise the cross as a symbol used to persecute them, and just showing Jesus carrying a cross isn’t going to magically erase this. So I don’t think the video is particularly helpful.

If a missionary made of video of Jesus in a slave boat to try to appeal to black people that Jesus is their messiah, I’m not sure that would be great either.

It is rather insensitively named - That Jew Died For You - and it looks like JFJ are prepared for any angry responses, with a ready-made FAQ available online.