The Jewish Journal has an article covering the new Interfaith Center in Beverly Hills. Their main jibe is that no one seems to know what happens at the very expensive venue and a main eye-witness is a cafe owner who hasn’t noticed people going in or out, which means her cafe can’t be busy if she gazes at the Interfaith Center all day!
Dauermann did dispute the belief held by many neighbors that the center sits empty more often than it is in use, however.
“Daytime activities are not our forte, because most people are not free during the daytime,” he said, “and that’s part of the reason for that perception.”
Also there is the same attack on Messianic Jews not being real Jews despite the fact that Jews for Judaism continue to target Messianic Jews to return to Judaism! Credit to the author as he gives the people of the Interfaith Center fair right to respond, as in this example:
Although many often equate Messianic Jews with the Jews for Jesus organization, Joshua Brumbach, who took over for Dauermann as rabbi of AZS, said the two are different.
“Jews for Jesus is a Christian missionary organization; they exist to get Jews to convert to Christianity,” Brumbach said. “They attend churches, and they don’t believe that the mitzvot [Jewish religious commandments] are obligatory anymore.”
Messianic Jews, by contrast, want Jews “to be better Jews, instead of less so,” Brumbach said.
The article starts:
Since it opened in 2011, the Interfaith Center of Beverly Hills has been sitting mostly empty.
On the one hand, it occupies a piece of prime real estate on the ground floor of a modern office building on a busy stretch of South Beverly Drive. Actors and agents take meetings at Urth Caffé, less than one block away. Just across the street, machers meet for coffee at Larry King’s Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. Although it’s hard to understand exactly what the stark, black letters above the Interfaith Center’s entrance mean, it’s just as hard to miss them.
Yet except for a few classes that take place during the week and a Christian prayer group that sublets the space for Sunday morning services, so few people use the spare storefront at the corner of Gregory Way and South Beverly Drive that the owner of the cafe across the street confessed she hadn’t ever seen anyone go in or out.
“I’d really like to know what goes on there,” said Anahit Hagopian, who owns the BeverLiz Café.
“It’s not a synagogue,” Stuart Dauermann, a leader in the Messianic Jewish movement, told the old man, who left moments later, a cold can of cola in his hand. “It’s a study center — but not quite a beit midrash either.”
“Not quite this, but also not that,” is a description that might equally apply to Messianic Jews themselves. Some Jewish followers of Jesus — or “Yeshua,” as they call him, using the Christian messiah’s Hebrew name — have no problem calling themselves Christians; others reject that label, and all are, quite simply, not welcome in the mainstream Jewish world.
“Messianic Jewish congregations are not Jewish,” Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, said. “And speaking of Jesus as ‘Yeshua’ is often an attempt to hide what a group truly believes in. They have every right to practice what they like, but call it what it is.”
Dauermann — who intersperses his speech with Hebrew and Yiddish words, wears tzitzit (the religiously mandated fringed garment) and says he “feels naked” when studying without his kippah — resists being classified as Christian and describes himself as an observant Jew.
In an interview with The Journal, Dauermann said the mission of the Interfaith Center is to promote “increased understanding between Jews and Christians.”
“We may not have agreement, but we can make progress,” Dauermann, the center’s chief visionary officer, said. Asked what would constitute “progress,” he answered vaguely, pointing to the center’s two-word mission statement, “Rethink religion.”
Dauermann, 67, has been rethinking religion for most of his life. Born into a Conservative Jewish family in Brooklyn, he turned to Jesus when he was 19. A noted composer of Messianic Jewish music, Dauermann has also become a leader within the Messianic Jewish community, which counts about 400 congregations and fellowships in the United States that range in size from a few dozen to a few hundred people.
In 2011, Dauermann stepped down from his post as rabbi of one such congregation, Ahavat Zion Messianic Synagogue (AZS), also located on Beverly Drive, where he had served for 20 years.
Dauermann said he stepped down from that post because he realized he was getting older and wanted to be “more focused” on his life’s work, namely, “interpreting the Jewish world to the Christian world and, perhaps, interpreting the Christian world to the Jewish world.”
“I spend a lot of time talking to Christians about Jews,” Dauermann said, “improving Christians’ attitudes and behavior toward Jewish people, toward one of greater respect.”
Kravitz said he tends to ignore Messianic synagogues unless he hears reports about them evangelizing to Jews, and that he hasn’t heard any such complaints about the Interfaith Center. But as a place that explicitly invites Jews to join in conversation with Messianic Jews, Kravitz said that the Interfaith Center is, in his view, “treif,” or unkosher.
Read the full article here