We are the oldest Messianic Jewish congregation in South Africa. We were founded almost eighteen years ago and have gone through many metamorphoses throughout the years. The founders of the congregation (both Jew and Gentile) always maintained that Beit Ariel should have Messianic Jewish leadership and many Jews have served in this capacity through our long history. Our current leader is Herschel Raysman and he has served as congregation leader since mid 1999. We worship the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and our style is unashamedly liturgically Jewish, following the example of first-century synagogues where followers of Mashiach Yeshua from both Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds, assembled together in unity. Our worship and observance seeks to fulfil Yeshua's words for true worshippers, blending together the Torah (the word of G-d) and Ru’ach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit of G-d). We rely on the Scriptures as our source of truth and on the Holy Spirit for power, gifts, and direction in our lives.
To be a Messianic Jewish faith community that lives out the truth and power of Besorah Tova (the Good News) of Yeshua of Nazareth, to mature in righteousness, and be an effective witness.
to provide a safe spiritual home for Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua
to be a light to the Jewish people testifying about HaShem’s covenant commitment to them in the Messiah
to witness to non-Jews about the Jewish roots of our faith in the Lord
to stand in support for Israel’s right to Eretz Yisrael with Jerusalem as its undivided capital
Who Are We?
Expanded statement with thanks to Dr Bruce Stokes: Beit Ariel is a Messianic Jewish Congregation consisting of both Jewish and non-Jewish members. The term Messianic Jewish Congregation requires an explanation. Each part of the term describes an aspect of our identity. The following statement is designed to help us express our identity as a religious community of faith.
Beit Ariel is a Congregation:
All religious communities form congregations. A congregation is a relationally connected collection of families and individuals who have joined together to learn, reinforce and practice their common religious faith and behavior. Congregations are committed to each other voluntarily and work together as a local expression of a larger religious tradition.
Beit Ariel is a Jewish Congregation:
In using the term Jewish, we are referring to a people and a religion. The Jewish people and Judaism are distinct but overlapping terms. To say we are Jewish is not to say that every member of the congregation is Jewish, though many are from Jewish families. It means that the religion that forms the foundational identity of our congregation is Judaism.
Judaism as practiced and expressed today in Israel and the Diaspora is a religion that expresses a Holy G-d, a Holy people, and a Holy land.
The Holy G-d is the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as understood through the Tanach (Old Covenant).
The holy people is the children of Abraham as expressed through the covenant made by G-d with Abraham and signified by the circumcision of all Jewish males. The Jewish people also relate to G-d and each other through the covenant made with them at Sinai in the giving of the Torah through Moses. And the Land Promised to Abraham and his offspring and which is the object of the Mosaic covenant is integral to the hope of Israel’s future peace.
In the Diaspora, Judaism has struggled with its sacred texts and tradition in three primary forms – Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism.
Orthodox Judaism has treated the Sacred Texts (Tanach, and Talmud) and Tradition (Halacha) as a whole and singular revelation from God given at Sinai and attempts to express Judaism from that perspective.
Conservative Judaism has made a distinction between the Hebrew Bible (Tanach or Old Testament) and the rest of the Jewish texts (Talmud) and tradition, attempting to hold the Biblical text as a revelation from G-d and the other texts and tradition of Judaism as significant for the expression of the religion.
Reform Judaism allows for the idea that the Texts and Tradition of Judaism is subject to reform and revision by each subsequent generation of religious Jews.
While Beit Ariel respects and encourages each of these expressions of Judaism, our own understanding and religious expression is most compatible with Conservative Judaism. This is not a formal connection with the conservative movement within Judaism but assists others in understanding our approach to religious expression and liturgy.
Beit Ariel is a Messianic Jewish Congregation:
Our Messianic perspective in some sense both qualifies our being a Jewish Congregation and complicates it. The Jewish people and Judaism have always maintained a messianic perspective. This perspective has varied throughout history as to what it means in the restoration of Israel and the promises. It has been held to be a person, and/or future age, and/or an ideal that keeps hope alive for the Jewish people and through them, for the whole creation.
But this concept has brought serious difficulty to the Jewish people through false messiahs and messianic movements throughout history.
Beit Ariel is fully committed to the Messianic Jewish movement that identifies Yeshua of Nazareth as the Son of G-d, the Messiah of the Jewish people and the Saviour of the world.
This perspective places us in a complicated relationship between the Jewish people and tradition on one hand, and the Gentile Christian churches on the other hand.
We embrace the messianic claims of Yeshua as expressed in the Gospels and Epistles (New Testament) written by Jewish followers of Yeshua and as understood by the Messianic Movement throughout Israel and the Diaspora.
We affirm that the understanding of Yeshua in Jewish context is needed and that this understanding must be embraced by the Christians if they are to relate to the Jewish people appropriately.
Our commitment to Yeshua as the Son of G-d and as the Messiah also influences our understanding of the observance of Torah and our understanding of the New Covenant promised to Israel by the prophets, especially Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. We are committed as much as depends upon us to connect to our Jewish people in Judaism, and those Gentile Christians who hope for the restoration of Israel and the return of Yeshua Messiah.
Beit Ariel is affiliated to the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), with its HQ in Albuquerque, New Mexico, America. The UMJC is an umbrella body representing about 80 Messianic Jewish congregations in America and in several countries in the Diaspora including South Africa.
The UMJC defines mainstream Messianic Judaism as “a movement of Jewish congregations and groups committed to Yeshua the Messiah that embrace the covenantal responsibility of Jewish life and identity as…”
 rooted in Torah,
 expressed in tradition, and
 renewed and applied in the context of the New Covenant”
As a Messianic Jewish congregation consisting of both Jewish and non-Jewish members, we affirm and agree with this understanding.
As a messianic Jewish faith community, we are also committed to the following:
to be a healthy and honest assembly of like-minded people – both Jew and non-Jew - who desire to worship the G-d of Israel, serve His people, and be light to the world
to be a place of refuge for G-d’s people
to be the dwelling place where Yeshua is present by His Spirit
to be a place of learning for both Messianic Jews and Gentiles so that we can gain an understanding of the Hebraic roots of our faith in Yeshua. This also includes taking a stance against supersessionism wherever it might be taught and practiced.
to stand in the gap as we identify with and support the nation of Israel and her right to the Land promised to them by G-d, with Jerusalem as her undivided capital
to be a meaningful and effective witness to Jewish and other peoples groups in our locality
Please read our position papers:
The Rebirth of Messianic Judaism by David Sedaca