As Messianic Jews, meaning, Jews who follow Jesus as Messiah, we are used to being rejected by our own Jewish community. Some see us as traitors and apostates. Others simply see us as simply misguided. Some will freely say, “You’re no longer Jewish.”
The reality is that, for most of us, our sense of Jewish identity was only deepened through our faith in Yeshua (Jesus).
God’s purposes for our people became more important.
Our connection to the State of Israel became more real.
Our calling as Jews became more pronounced. (Not as superior in any way to our Gentile Christians friends, but as distinct, just as men and women have distinct callings in Jesus.)
This means that when anti-Semitism is on the rise in America and the nations, we feel it acutely. We have not stopped being Jews by putting our faith in the Jewish Messiah. And even if we do not practice traditional Judaism, we know who we are before God.
An attack against a secular Jew or a traditional Jew is also an attack against us.
That’s why it is no surprise to us when a Messianic congregation (commonly called a Messianic synagogue) is attacked by anti-Semites. (For the concept of a Messianic synagogue in the New Testament, see James [Jacob] 2:2 in the Greek.)
An article in the Forward dated August 14, 2019, stated, “After a Las Vegas security guard was arrested last week and charged with planning to bomb an unnamed local synagogue, many in the local Jewish community wondered if they could have been targeted.
“The answer, it turns out, is a bit more complicated.”
For the Forward, what was complicated was the fact that this was a Messianic Jewish synagogue.
But the reality is that, yes, the Jewish community should have “wondered if they could have been targeted,” since this was an attack against Jews. There was nothing complicated about it.
To an anti-Semite, a building with Jewish symbols is a Jewish building. And a man with a beard, wearing a yarmulke (as some Messianic Jews do, to identify with our people), is a Jew.
In the same way, when Jew-hating terrorists seek to kill or maim our people in Israel, they don’t stop their act of terror when they learn that their target is a Messianic Jew.
And while it is true that some German churches under the Nazis showed concern for Jewish Christians and not for the Jews as a whole, other church leaders argued “for the separation of Jewish Christians from ‘Aryan’ congregations.” Those Jews were still Jews, despite their membership in Christian churches and their Christian identity.
And so, when Jewish Christians in Nazi Germany were required to wear the Jewish star along with the rest of the Jewish population, “In some parts of the country, Protestant churchgoers were displeased to note how many (converted) Jews went to church, and demanded of their ministers that they should not be asked to take communion next to these Jews, whom they wanted forbidden to attend common services” (Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany [New York: Oxford University Press, 2001]).
In the end, these Jewish Christians died in the same concentration camps and were gassed to death in the same “showers” as were the rest of the Jews of Europe butchered by the Nazis. Traditional Jews died side by side with secular Jews and with Jewish Christians.
In the eyes of Hitler (and in the eyes of God), they were all Jews.
That being said, as a Messianic Jew, I am also deeply connected to the Christian community.
We are brothers and sisters in Jesus, with a deep, spiritual bond. I am indebted to the Christians who prayed me into the kingdom. They, in turn, are indebted to a Jewish Savior — as we all are — and feel uniquely connected to the people of Israel. Even deeper than my Jewish identity is my identity as a Jesus-follower.
Yet, at the same time, it has often been the Church — men and women who profess Jesus as Lord — who have persecuted the Jews. (The most recent, horrific example would be John Earnest, the Poway Synagogue shooter.)
If ever there was an oxymoron, it would be the term “Christian anti-Semitism,” yet this has been rampant through Church history, right until this day.
In that light, as one who straddles both the Christian and Jewish communities, sometimes misunderstood by the former and commonly rejected by the latter, I make this appeal to my Christian friends.
Please stand up against anti-Semitism, and do so in Jesus’ name, as a Christian.
Pastors and Christian leaders, reach out to the rabbis in your community and tell them that, as a Church leader, you stand with them and are there to help. Maybe even hold a public rally of support.
And to every true Christian reading these words, tell your Jewish friends and colleagues how appalled you are at the rising time of anti-Semitism in America and worldwide. Tell them you have their backs. And tell them that, as someone who looks to a Jew (Jesus!) for salvation, you feel connected to them as well.
As a Messianic Jew, I assure you that your acts of genuine love will not be ignored by the Jewish community. And it’s a great way to show our people who Yeshua really is — the author of love, not hate.