Why are so many young Messianic Jews distancing themselves from Judaism?
February 25, 2020 | David Lazarus
When Jews come to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) are they still Jewish? That’s a question many of our readers ask and last year Israel Today published a report on Is the
Future of Messianics Jewish? We wanted to find out if Israeli Jews who believe in Yeshua still honor and practice their Jewish faith traditions.
That article revealed a growing trend among the younger generation of Jewish-born Messianic followers of Yeshua who are not connecting with their Jewish roots or heritage. Many are even distancing themselves from Jewish traditions.
We received many responses to that report from leaders in Israel and around the world who share our concern that many Messianic Jews are not keeping their Jewish heritage after becoming believers in Yeshua.
The following are some of their responses.
Evan Thomas Messianic Pastor, Netanya, Israel:
My acceptance of Yeshua as Messiah as a young Jew came with an immediate awareness of my Jewish heritage and a calling home to Israel. We introduced a Torah scroll and developed a liturgy that honors our Jewish heritage in our congregation. Many aspects of Jewish tradition are an inseparable part of our weekly Shabbat services.
We also encourage awareness of the value of Jewish tradition in the home – whether it is Shabbat traditions or the celebration of the Feasts. Our young adults grow up appreciating the traditions and make them part of their lives as they start families. Messianics are NOT secular – we’re not religious Jews either – but somehow in a category of our own. Our Jewish heritage gives an important context to our faith – we must preserve it!
Dan Juster Messianic Leader, Jerusalem:
My friend David Lazarus has written an important article, putting his finger on one of the most troubling aspects of Messianic Judaism in the Land that we have not discipled our people into the importance of the calling of being Jewish.
If we wholesale reject the history of the traditions of our people, we deny the grace of God in our own culture and give a testimony against our people, a testimony that borders on Anti-Semitism. This is wrong and a terrible witness against our people. I am one who rejects the legitimacy of Rabbinic authority and believe it was a usurpation of authority that came due to the rejection the truth of the Gospel. Yet, God in his love still provided things in our heritage that were good, beautiful and true but many Messianics remain ignorant about the good things in our heritage.
We have a massive educational task ahead of us. We have raised a generation who are ignorant of the Biblical meaning of being Jewish and our distinct calling as witness to the world as well as an instrument in God’s hands for the redemption of the world.
Naoji Ishiida, Pastor Japan:
I know what you have written is in fact true. We have been worried about this trend for many years. We have heard disturbing reports from America, that now most of the members of so-called Messianic Jewish congregations are Gentiles, and their children do not know if they are Jewish or Gentile.
There is also another side of this whereby Gentiles are keeping kosher and fasting on Yom Kippur and think they are entitled to be Jewish. This is also very disturbing. In both cases Jewish identity is in danger. This must be Satan’s tactic to spoil the Messianic Movement.
Kostya Michaildis, Messianic Jewish Congregation, Sydney Australia:
I wondered whether we should be more focused on Jewish tradition, as you point out, in order to be relating to the broader Jewish community and culture. I am glad you have raised this issue. The Messianic movement seems to be at a crossroad and we need to reassess our direction.
Canadian Bruce Taylor:
We strongly endorse your position of retaining your Jewish traditions where they fulfill the spirit of the law as Jesus taught them.
John Bootsma Senior Leader Catch the Fire Canada:
As a grated-in Gentile who increasingly is appreciating the richness of the root into which I have been grafted, I wish more Gentiles & Jews alike would celebrate our Jewish roots. I sense knowing the significance of your Feasts will become increasingly crucial in the years to come.
David Natale, USA:
As a Christian Pastor I believe that the feasts are Feasts of the Lord. Even in our Christian churches the young people don’t seem to want the ‘traditions” upheld by the Gospel and not men.
Michael Roos, Pastor Sweden:
For you as a nation it is critical to keep your Jewish roots for the next generation of believers. You are not to be Christianised but to remain as Jews who believing in Jesus. For us it is a blessing to be a believer of Jesus and to share the same spiritual roots as the messianic Jews. For me personally it has been a total revolution in my faith starting to come to Israel and experiencing Jewish culture and the Messianic Jewish movement. I love it.