A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows that young Jews do not consider religion as a key component of what it means to be Jewish. This trend, connected to a wider secularism among the youth, provides an opportunity for preaching the Gospel, according to some Messianic Jewish scholars.
Russ Resnik, executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), called the decreasing emphasis on religion among Jewish Millennials "both a real problem and an opportunity," in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday. Resnik explained "it's a problem that our country is becoming increasingly secular," but he insisted that, as a result, "a lot of people are growing up without a lot of religious boundaries that historically kept Jews from thinking about Jesus as the Messiah."
According to the Pew study, 73 percent of Jews between 18 and 29 said a person can be Jewish if they do not believe in God. Sixty-six percent of the same group said being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry or culture, as opposed to religion. Only 13 percent said religion was more important. Thirty-two percent of them identify as Jewish but have no religion. more >>
A new survey by the Pew Research Center shows that over a third of the Jewish community accepts those who believe in Jesus as still Jewish. Leaders of the Messianic church, however, disagree as to whether or not this shows that Jews are more open to Jesus than in the past.
"A less hostile climate, a more open-minded climate" is pervading American Jewry, Messianic Jew Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries, told The Christian Post in an interview on Monday. While he said that this doesn't mean Jews are hungry for Jesus, he said that this shift represents a unique opportunity for Messianic Jews to spread the Gospel.
Glaser explained that, "more than anything, the number one objection Jewish people have to believing in Jesus is that if they do, they have to stop being Jewish." While more than half of American Jews still consider Christianity incompatible with Judaism, Pew found that 34 percent do not. That number is even higher among ultra-Orthodox Jews, at 35 percent, and among ages 18-49, at 38 percent. more >>
Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for a 25-minute closed-door exchange in the Vatican on Monday.
According to the Israeli government, the pair discussed the Iranian nuclear program, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as recent peace negotiations, and the current, beleaguered state of Christians in the Middle East.
Since assuming the papacy, Pope Francis has been vocal about the need to protect the Middle East's persecuted Christians. more >>
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins led seven members of Congress known for their strong ties to evangelical Christians on a nine-day swing through Israel's Holy Land earlier this month, touring the country's most important religious sites and meeting with top-level Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The trip, sponsored by the U.S. Israel Education Association with grants from several Christian and Jewish organizations, included Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).
The delegation spent the majority of their time behind what is known as the "green line," or the areas near Samaria that mark the line between Israel territories captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. While experiencing the Holy Sites helped the Congressmen gain an appreciation for Israel, Perkins noted the most important aspect of the trip was time spent with Netanyahu and other government officials and their concern for the recent agreement the Obama administration reached with Iran over the country's nuclear arsenal. more >>
This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving, a coincidence that last happened in 1888 and will not occur again for 79,043 years, according to Jewish sources. Jews and Christians agree that "Thanksgivukkah" is not a contradiction but a fortuitous connection between holidays that both celebrate thankfulness to God and religious freedom.
"AJC has not conducted a formal study, but my general sense is that I don't think anyone is stressed about Chanukah overlapping with Thanksgiving," Michael Schmidt, New York City director for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), told The Christian Post in an interview on Wednesday. "I think people are sort of playful about it, as shown in the term 'Thanksgivukkah.'"
Schmidt emphasized the thematic connection between the two holidays. "Hanukkah this year, which celebrates the revolt of Judas Maccabeus for religious freedom, very nicely aligns with the holiday of Thanksgiving, where the Pilgrims celebrated religious freedom," he said. more >>
Last week, BBYO, a Jewish teen organization, organized prescreenings of the new film "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," but with a twist – they teamed up with local food banks and asked for food donations. Across the country, Jewish teens participating in this effort donated over 17,000 pounds of food.
"Many American and Canadian youth saw hunger as a foreign issue," Natalie Spring, director of campaigns and leadership initiatives at BBYO, told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday. Showing that hunger is a problem here in America as well, Spring cited the Food Research and Action Center, which found that 49 million Americans faced hunger in 2012 – 16 million of them children.
"Our biggest message to our teens is that this is not a Jewish issue," Spring stated. "This is an American issue and an important issue for all people." The BBYO spokeswoman said she hopes the teens involved will energize their schools and families to address the issue of hunger. more >>