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Fake Jews: Best Explanation Thus Far


Ralar

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Revive is an annual gathering for followers of Hebrew Roots, a movement of—for lack of a better term—Torah-observant gentiles. These are non-Jews who have no intention of converting to Judaism yet follow laws, customs, beliefs, and practices commonly associated with Judaism. And while they do believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the messiah—though in these circles he goes exclusively by his Hebrew name, Yeshua—they are emphatically not Christian. They do not celebrate Christmas or Easter. They do celebrate Passover and Sukkot. They do not display, either in their homes or as jewelry, crosses or other traditional Christian symbols. They do, however, wear Stars of David and post mezuzahs on their doors.

 

The movement’s central belief is that the Torah is still binding—that God, or Yahweh, or Hashem, did not intend for Yeshua’s appearance to render irrelevant the lessons of the Old Testament, whose rules and instructions remain valid. The Brit Chadasha, or New Testament, which most Christians believe superseded the Torah, is understood as a sort of extension of the Torah. Followers of Hebrew Roots believe that Christian practice has been, over the last two millennia, corrupted by pagan influences and like to say that they’re aiming for a pure, first-century version of their religion. In other words, they want to understand and observe the Torah the way they believe their messiah Yeshua did.

 

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/161086/observing-torah-like-jesus (Not breaking the link because it is Tablet Magazine)

 

ETA: While some Messianic Jews and Jews for Jesus follow Torah or even rabbinic laws, they tend to self-classify as Jews, not Christians: The movement recognizes the halakhic distinction between Jews and gentiles and considers itself part of the wider Jewish community. Reminds me of our old friends, Lina & TT!

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Weird, but interesting.

I've said before that I draw a distinction with "fake Jews" between those who genuinely come to their beliefs as gentiles looking into the roots of the Christian religion, vs. those that are clearly 100% evangelical Christian in theology but use Jewish terms and symbols as a marketing technique to lure in Jews.

This group, for now, sounds like the first category. If they aren't pretending to be Jews or marketing to Jews, I don't have an issue with it. It's interesting, though, to see some unexpected consequences to online resources. I'm not sure that Aish or other organizations really pictured that their websites would lead to this (although if it gets gentiles to observe basic moral laws, often called the 7 Noachide Laws, they may be all for it. My rabbi, who has some stuff on chabad.org, sometimes mentions that he gets weird but friendly emails from all over the world, including non-Jews.)

[Quick background for anyone who is not familiar with Judaism's view on outreach to non-Jews - according to the traditional Jewish view, full observance of all 613 commandments, including the ritual stuff, is only required from Jews. There's no reason for a non-Jew to do it. Non-Jews, according to this view, were given 7 commandments - no idolatry, no blasphemy, no incest or adultery, no murder, no stealing, no eating flesh from an alive that is still alive, and establishing courts of justice.]

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From the Tablet Magazine article:

"Many followers of Hebrew Roots consider themselves to be Children of Israel or members of the 10 lost tribes, but they do not consider themselves to be Jewish. Indeed, when a follower of Hebrew Roots converts to Judaism—thereby rejecting Yeshua as the messiah—it’s considered a tragedy for the community. Several teachers at Revive told me about a recent spate of conversions, which they uniformly condemned and described as a “crisis.â€"

So...they believe in Jesus and consider it a tragedy when someone in their group converts to Judaism (rejecting Jesus as the messiah), even when the person believes s(he) is Jewish from descent. This sounds like Christianity to me, though they're rejecting the posthumous trappings; e.g., celebration of Christmas, in favor of the observances of the time.

I've said before that I draw a distinction with "fake Jews" between those who genuinely come to their beliefs as gentiles looking into the roots of the Christian religion, vs. those that are clearly 100% evangelical Christian in theology but use Jewish terms and symbols as a marketing technique to lure in Jews.

This group, for now, sounds like the first category. If they aren't pretending to be Jews or marketing to Jews, I don't have an issue with it.

I agree, though I'm not clear on how they're attracting their congregants. Were the many congregants of (supposed) Jewish descent believing in Jesus before or after they found this group? If many are of Jewish descent then how did they fall in with this crowd if the group isn't, on some level, marketing to Jews?

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I find this paragraph very confusing:

While some Messianic Jews and Jews for Jesus follow Torah or even rabbinic laws, they tend to self-classify as Jews, not Christians: The movement recognizes the halakhic distinction between Jews and gentiles and considers itself part of the wider Jewish community.

I understand that to mean the Revive group consider themselves part of "the larger Jewish community," but not Jews. What is that supposed to mean? I know Jews who are married to non-Jews and their spouses are part of the Jewish community, even though they are not themselves Jewish. But these folks are different: they wear (and observe) all the trappings of Orthodox Judaism, but still believe in Jesus as messiah. Sounds like Christianity to me.

There is the never-ending "Who is a Jew?" discussion, and now it looks like we're getting into "Who is a Christian."

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More from the article:

In the late 1990s, he told me, he [Rico Cortes] discovered that he descended from bnei anusim, or Marranos—medieval Spanish Jews who, out of fear of persecution, kept their religion a secret. (He told me that he also later discovered that he carries the gene commonly associated with kohanim, the Jewish priestly caste.) Apparently, some members have Jewish ancestors.

We spoke at length about the nature and role of halakha, the codification of religious law in Judaism. Hebrew Roots, Cortes told me, doesn’t have that—there isn’t any sort of legal metastructure, and everyone is doing whatever makes sense to them. But a lot of them, he said, are getting it wrong. “It’s like the Wild West out there,†he said. Many of us have commented on their "do it my way" attitude, even though they don't do it the way most authentic Jews do it.

A soft-spoken, professorial woman named Anna talked about something called Refinement Theory. She projected a diagram shaped like an hourglass. The top was marked “All the Children of Israel,†and the bottom, “All with faith in Christ.†Yeshua was at the midpoint. Her class included a linguistic analysis of the root—which she correctly referred to as the shoresh—of the biblical word bekhor, the first-born son. If that is not Christianity, what is it?

When I asked Ephraim Judah, a 27-year-old who is a member of the first generation to have been raised entirely within the movement—his father heads the Oklahoma-based Lion and Lamb Ministries—if he’s Jewish, he offered the cryptic reply, “I am but I don’t.†Isn't Lion and Lamb Ministries the group TT was affiliated with prior to moving to Texas?

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I guess I can kind of see the logic. If you believe that the Old Testament still applies in some ways then why doesn't it apply in other ways too? At the very least, I have to have some respect for these folks since it seems to me that their attitude towards the OT/Torah is more consistent than that of, say, other fundies who eat shrimp while trying to curtail LGBT rights because they think gays are abominations.

Slightly off topic, but what is this obsession so many religious groups seem to have with finding a "pure," pre-modern version of the religion? This isn't the first time I've heard of this -- ironically enough, I see it a lot in my religion, where it seems like there are tons of people who want to practice the faith like we all still lived in pre-Christian Iceland. I don't really understand the goal, and it doesn't seem at all realistic to me either.

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Ugh. Stop co opting my shit, fundies. I'd be pissed if someone was wearing a star of david if they weren't Jewish. Don't wear a symbol of Judaism and then tell me you believe in Jesus.

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Ugh. Stop co opting my shit, fundies. I'd be pissed if someone was wearing a star of david if they weren't Jewish. Don't wear a symbol of Judaism and then tell me you believe in Jesus.

Then this chick (another god's daughter) would drive you nuts.

.facebook.com/starbubbli/posts/10201095888181697

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From the Tablet Magazine article:

"Many followers of Hebrew Roots consider themselves to be Children of Israel or members of the 10 lost tribes, but they do not consider themselves to be Jewish. Indeed, when a follower of Hebrew Roots converts to Judaism—thereby rejecting Yeshua as the messiah—it’s considered a tragedy for the community. Several teachers at Revive told me about a recent spate of conversions, which they uniformly condemned and described as a “crisis.â€"

So...they believe in Jesus and consider it a tragedy when someone in their group converts to Judaism (rejecting Jesus as the messiah), even when the person believes s(he) is Jewish from descent. This sounds like Christianity to me, though they're rejecting the posthumous trappings; e.g., celebration of Christmas, in favor of the observances of the time.

I agree, though I'm not clear on how they're attracting their congregants. Were the many congregants of (supposed) Jewish descent believing in Jesus before or after they found this group? If many are of Jewish descent then how did they fall in with this crowd if the group isn't, on some level, marketing to Jews?

I got the sense that many of them suspected that they were descended from conversos, Jews who converted to Christianity in Spain in 1492 but secretly maintained the religion. VERY secretly, considering that they would have been burned by the Inquisition if they had been caught. Many from this group lived as Catholics throughout the ages, but sometimes odd rituals would remain. Here's an interesting article about one woman's discovery of her hidden Jewish roots: http://www.thejewishweek.com/special-se ... iven-voice

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If you believe that Jesus is/was the Messiah, then you are a Christian. It's a belief that is simply incompatible with Judaism. It doesn't matter what holidays you celebrate--many sects/denominations whatever it is you call them--that consider themselves Christian don't celebrate liturgical holidays, and especially not Christmas, consider the holidays to be tainted by their pagan roots, etc. And there are Christian sects that observe, for example, Jewish dietary laws and sabbath on Saturday, but are clearly Christian. There are also Christians that don't display crosses, etc., for their own sectarian reasons. That does make them non-Christians.

I basically would feel like who cares what these people believe--it's none of anyone else's business as long as no one is being coercive--except that I don't understand how you say you are not Jewish, believe in "Yeshua" as the messiah and yet consider yourself "part of the wider Jewish community." That seems very disrespectful. Also that they are involving people who "have Jewish ancestry,"--going back as far as the Inquisition--does seem as if they are trolling, not unlike the Messianics.

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Then this chick (another god's daughter) would drive you nuts.

.facebook.com/starbubbli/posts/10201095888181697

ACK. Just... WTF. I like that one of the women on the thread has been "accused" of being Jewish.

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If you believe that Jesus is/was the Messiah, then you are a Christian. It's a belief that is simply incompatible with Judaism. It doesn't matter what holidays you celebrate--many sects/denominations whatever it is you call them--that consider themselves Christian don't celebrate liturgical holidays, and especially not Christmas, consider the holidays to be tainted by their pagan roots, etc. And there are Christian sects that observe, for example, Jewish dietary laws and sabbath on Saturday, but are clearly Christian. There are also Christians that don't display crosses, etc., for their own sectarian reasons. That does make them non-Christians.

I basically would feel like who cares what these people believe--it's none of anyone else's business as long as no one is being coercive--except that I don't understand how you say you are not Jewish, believe in "Yeshua" as the messiah and yet consider yourself "part of the wider Jewish community." That seems very disrespectful. Also that they are involving people who "have Jewish ancestry,"--going back as far as the Inquisition--does seem as if they are trolling, not unlike the Messianics.

Here's what I basically learned about Jewish theology growing up:

Q. Is there a God?

A. Some believe say yes, some people say no.

Q. What is God?

A. Nobody really knows. Some people compare God to a king or father, some people see God in nature, some people believe that God is part of all of us....

Q. So, is Jesus the son of God?

A. NO!! Absolutely not, that goes against our beliefs!

[i'm posting this tongue-in-cheek, but it's also pretty accurate.]

Getting technical, though, it's not so much the belief that Jesus is Messiah that put Christianity outside of Judaism, as it is the belief that Jesus was the son of God and that his death eliminated the need to observe the Torah.

Others have been mistaken about the identity of the Messiah (Rabbi Akiva thought it was Bar Kochba, tons of Jews thought it was Shabtai Zvi, a group of Lubavitchers think it was their Rebbe who just died in 1994), but they are still considered to be Jews. Honestly, the average Jew probably couldn't tell you all the details about the exact requirements for the Messiah.

OTOH, Judaism is pretty clear on monotheism. One God, eternal, no physical form. So, the entire concept of the Trinity, and of someone being both human and divine, isn't compatible with basic Jewish theology - even for those in more liberal movements who have a fairly fuzzy or flexible concept of what God is.

The other thing that historically severed the link between Jews and Christians was this idea that Torah observance was no longer required, which came about when Paul reached out to gentiles instead of the Jews, and declared that Jewish practices like circumcision were no longer required.

From what I understand, Torah-observant gentiles like this group have re-thought Paul's position of Torah observance and turned away from some of the Church's traditional rejection of Jewish practices and embrace of Pagan-derived practices, and they also reject "Replacement theology", but they still maintain a belief that Jesus is the son of God. I don't consider that to be a Jewish belief, but it's not my business to tell a Christian what they should believe.

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Q. So, is Jesus the son of God?

A. NO!! Absolutely not, that goes against our beliefs!

I'd say that the "two Jews, three opinions" quip I've heard over the years does not apply to the Jesus question. Every Jew I've known, whether practicing or not, has been absolutely vehement on this question. If you believe in Jesus, you can't be a Jew, end of story.

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Ugh. Stop co opting my shit, fundies. I'd be pissed if someone was wearing a star of david if they weren't Jewish. Don't wear a symbol of Judaism and then tell me you believe in Jesus.

This happened to me in Barnes and Noble. I saw who I thought was a Rabbi, and asked him about his synagogue, as I was visiting and I like to go on occasion. He then said he was a Messianic Rabbi, and I said, "Oh, well, thanks anyway" (more or less.) When I said I was Jewish, it should have been a full stop on his part, but he acted like he was.

I dunno. I have a friend who is a Messianic Rabbi. He is extremely conservative. I tried to explain to him how I felt-like he is dressing up like a Jew and pretending to be one, and he's actually a fundie Christian. He was patient (I was a jackass to him, looking back) but said he doesn't "pretend" to be a Jew. He just "wants to live how Jesus lived." I bit my tongue and didn't say that Jesus would not be bitching about poor people and Obamacare.

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I'd say that the "two Jews, three opinions" quip I've heard over the years does not apply to the Jesus question. Every Jew I've known, whether practicing or not, has been absolutely vehement on this question. If you believe in Jesus, you can't be a Jew, end of story.

Especially if you believe that his literal father was God.

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From the Tablet Magazine article:

"Many followers of Hebrew Roots consider themselves to be Children of Israel or members of the 10 lost tribes, but they do not consider themselves to be Jewish. Indeed, when a follower of Hebrew Roots converts to Judaism—thereby rejecting Yeshua as the messiah—it’s considered a tragedy for the community. Several teachers at Revive told me about a recent spate of conversions, which they uniformly condemned and described as a “crisis.â€"

Does this mean that some people spend time as Messianic Jews and then stop believing in Jesus and convert to Judaism?

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So, I have a question. Growing up in New Zealand, the Jewish population is very small and I have extremely limited knowledge on Judiasm. My husband's grandmother and grandfather were Jewish. My mother-in-law was raised Jewish but converted to Mormonism as a young adult. My husband was raised Mormon but doesn't practice/ believe.

I am really interested in Judiasm, and would love to explore my husband's heritage, especially now I'm pregnant. We would never represent our (agnostic/athiest) selves as Jewish, but I guess I was wondering if it is ok for someone raised Mormon to explore this, or whether it is inappropriate?

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1. There's nothing "inappropriate" about exploring your heritage.

2. Traditional Jewish law would still consider someone to be Jewish if their mother was Jewish, even if there was a conversion somewhere along the line. [Forced conversions were unfortunately common at some points in history] The one exception seems to be someone who leads a group like Jews for Jesus and told an active role in converting others away from Judaism - several years ago, there was a situation in Toronto where the local Jewish cemetery - which represented all of the different Jewish denominations - actually shut their gates and barred entry to the hearse carrying the late leader of a Messianic group.

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As a Christian with one Jewish Great Grandfather who's been exploring her family history (partly how a strict Methodist and a conservative but not Orthodox Jew got married in the 20s) I'd say as long as you were honest about what you're doing and respectful most faiths and cultures don't have a problem with you turning up looking for meaning and answers. I've gone on to some Jewish websites and asked some very stupid questions and many members were kind enough to explain thnigs point me in the right direction to the best resources.

Family history can cause interest in the strangest things: a Canadian turned up at our CofE Church last year wondering if we still had the kneeler that is grandmother made as a teenager, the Vicar to her own slight amazement spent an afternoon looking and eventually found the record and got the precise kneeler out of storage for him to photograph to tell his parents he found it on his trip to the UK.

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BTW - the New Zealand Jewish community is indeed very small, but it's also quite wonderful.

We spent 4 weeks in New Zealand in 2002. 24 hours after flying into Auckland, we found ourselves at the home of a family we met at the synagogue that morning, eating with several other families there and being totally welcomed with open arms, even though we arrived at the synagogue without calling anyone in advance. [it probably helped that we had a cute 3 year old and a 2 month old - babies make great ice-breakers!] BTW, New Zealand is a beautiful and very child-friendly country.

At the synagogue, we learned that the Jewish community was "as old as Auckland".

Here's some more information about the Jewish community of New Zealand:

http://www.chabadnz.org/templates/artic ... sh/FAQ.htm

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  • 4 months later...

Hate to necro a 3-month-old thread but this is interesting...

Flojo, I can't imagine any rabbi or Jewish body, anywhere, having any kind of problem with a situation like you and your husband's. Learning about your Jewish roots is awesome. Being a non-Jew and having a respectful, genuine interest in Jewish theology/conversion is awesome. The problem arises when people co-opt Jewish traditions for their own uses.

I have a major problem with these groups, even if they are not actively involved in tricking or luring in actual Jews for conversion to Christianity. Every single one of them is operating under the assumption that Judaism is a means to an end, a sort of dress-rehearsal or learning tool for better understanding Christianity, and not a living, vital, evolving tradition on its own. There are plenty of respectful, spiritually-affirming ways to explore Christianity's Jewish roots and live a more Biblically-accurate lifestyle without literally dressing up as a Jew and talking about how great it is that your half-assed Sukkhot party helped you understand Jesus Yeshua better.

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I have a major problem with these groups, even if they are not actively involved in tricking or luring in actual Jews for conversion to Christianity. Every single one of them is operating under the assumption that Judaism is a means to an end, a sort of dress-rehearsal or learning tool for better understanding Christianity, and not a living, vital, evolving tradition on its own. There are plenty of respectful, spiritually-affirming ways to explore Christianity's Jewish roots and live a more Biblically-accurate lifestyle without literally dressing up as a Jew and talking about how great it is that your half-assed Sukkhot party helped you understand Jesus Yeshua better.

I understand your point.

Unfortunately, while the bolded part doesn't apply to all Christian groups, it does apply to a lot of them - not just the fake Jew segment. It is part of the basic doctrine of much of the evangelical world, and even exists in some mainline denominations. While Jews don't believe that most of the laws of the 5 Books of Moses apply to Christians because these laws were given specifically to the Israelites, many Christians will say that those laws no longer apply because Jesus came and fulfilled the Law, and say that salvation occurs through faith in Jesus alone and not through works. The implication (which the more mainline groups are too polite to state directly) is that following any of the ritual or moral laws of the Hebrew Bible is pointless, and that no matter what good things a Jew or any other non-Christian may do, we are going straight to hell if we don't believe in Jesus.

Obviously, I'm not thrilled about this belief - but I don't get to tell other people what to believe, and I don't bother getting really upset about beliefs unless people turn it into some kind of action that is harmful. [someone thinking that I'm going to hell doesn't actually send me there, of course.] Using deception to lure away members of my already-small religious group, IMHO, is harmful. I'm not sure, though, that it's more harmful to me for a Christian to sit in a Sukkah and babble about Jesus than it is for a Christian to believe that my sukkah is a sign that I am denying the power of salvation and therefore going to hell.

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  • 2 months later...

Just finished reading the article in "Tablet Magazine". Of course a good deal of it went over my head as I don't have the background to understand most of the references to Orthodox Jewish practices the author compares this weird group of people to.

I kept thinking, you know, it sounds like the people in this "movement" are Cosplaying at being Jewish.

Reminded me of the time a brother took part in the Student United Nations in New York. He, good Catholic boy that he was, was ironically assigned the Vatican. As a college student he got to run around the Big Apple wearing a Roman collar, dressed as and more or less impersonating a Catholic priest. It was a blast but nobody thought for a moment he had the slightest vocation and we were correct. So for that week he was indulging in Catholic Cosplay.

Taking this a step further, the conference featured in the article also reminded me of the historical re-creation crew. Years ago I interviewed a Civil War re-creationist who had carefully researched his historical persona and would live rough over recreation weekends only using equipment and supplies available to a Union soldier in the the Civil War.

It is my understanding from other posts on FJ that a lot of fundies are also into exceptionally rose tinted versions of various popular re-creationist eras. So Re-creationist Cosplay.

So far most Cosplay people I know are into FICTIONAL universes and characters.

It seems insulting even to me that some fundies play at being Jewish while insisting they are not and at the same time maintaining Jesus was the Messiah. :wtf:

Talk about religion Al la cart! :doh: :cray-cray:

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