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Jews for Jesus

D

DivineNames

Guest
A Tenuous Claim as a Jew for Jesus
by David Klinghoffer

http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/searc ... p?id=15628


Here is an interesting tidbit: The world’s top “Jew for Jesus†is, by ancestry, a non-Jew. Fancy that.

You know Jews for Jesus, the lovable San Francisco-based organization that uses the appeal of Jewish kinship to introduce Jews to “Y’shua ha Mashiach†(Jesus Christ). Its executive director is a pleasant fellow named David Brickner. After he critiqued my book, “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus,†in a Jews for Jesus publication and later graciously retracted a prominent factual error he made, we started e-mailing.

Brickner’s bio on the Jews for Jesus Web site emphasizes his distinguished Jewish lineage, calling him “a fifth-generation Jewish believer in Jesus.†That got my attention, since belief in Jesus is among the most powerful known acids on the existence of the Jewish people. When Jews accept Jesus, they marry other Christians or their children do, thus disappearing into the Christian population.

Did David Brickner’s family beat the odds? Actually, no.

According to Jewish law, a Jew is defined as someone who either a) has a Jewish mother or b) was converted by a rabbinic court. I asked Brickner about his mother. He replied a few days later with candor:

“She is not halachically Jewish,†he wrote, using the term for the body of Jewish law. “Her father was Jewish, but her mother was not. Both of my father’s parents were Jewish. My parents made aliyah many years ago, and my mother was accepted as a Jew under the Law of Return. That may not make a difference to you, but it does to me.â€Â

But look, I pointed out, most American Jews maintain that only a Jewish mother counts in making a Jewish baby. While the Reform movement agrees with Jews for Jesus in affirming patrilineal descent, Conservative and Orthodox Jews make up 54 percent of America’s affiliated Jewish community (33 and 21 percent respectively). I wrote to Brickner:

“So when you tell Jews, ‘Hey, I’m a Jew just like you, and I believe in Y’shua!’ you are using the word ‘Jew,’ with its implications of kinship, to mean something which you know very well that most of your listeners do not understand it to mean. That’s deception.â€Â

Brickner replied:

“I think it a bit ironic that the insult comes from you in light of your own yichus [ancestry]. Maybe there is some pathology behind your rigid declaration.â€Â

He was referring to the fact that my own birth parents are non-Jews, as I wrote in my 1998 memoir about adoption and conversion, “The Lord Will Gather Me In.â€Â

In exposing Brickner, am I guilty of pathological rigidity? I don’t think so, for three reasons.

First, truth in advertising: If Brickner were the head of Jews for Saving the Whales, it wouldn’t matter if he is unambiguously a Jew or not. But because his group’s whole pitch is based on the claim that lots of actual Jews believe in the Christian messiah, Brickner’s identity matters.

Second, his story beautifully illustrates the sociological pattern I mentioned earlier. Brickner points out that he has acknowledged, briefly, his non-Jewish background in a long sentimental article about his family’s Jewish roots. It’s tucked away on the Jews for Jesus Web site, if you know where to look.

We learn in the article, “It all began about 100 years ago in the Kamenky Jewish quarter of Zhitomir, Russia. My great-grandmother, Esther, daughter of Reb Levi Yitzkak Glaser, married Julius Finestone, a Jew who believed in Jesus.â€Â

How the little Jewish girl, presumably with rabbinic approval, married a professed Christian is left unclear.

Anyway, Esther’s son Fred married a non-Jew, Ruth. Ruth’s daughter was David Brickner’s mother. Thus at least in this one branch, the Glaser family has disappeared from the eternal nation. When I asked Brickner about his own wife, the former Patti Vasaturo, with whom he has two kids, he joked that Mrs. Brickner is a “Moabite.†He was alluding to the non-Jewish ancestry of the biblical Ruth, who was a Moabite by birth.

So it goes.

Today, interestingly, there are “Messianic Jewish†communities that encourage “Jewish living.†Very nice. When I spoke at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center recently, a young guy came up afterward, introduced himself as a Messianic Jew, and told me he’d grown up as I did, in a Reform temple.

“Believing in Y’shua,†he said, “I feel more Jewish than ever.â€Â

I looked at the wedding ring on his finger and asked if his wife is Jewish. Take one guess what he replied. For all his “feeling Jewish,†I sadly explained, he had consigned to oblivion any hope that he will have Jewish progeny.

Finally, reflecting on Brickner’s case allows us to ask why Jews for thousands of years have cared about matrilineal descent to begin with. Isn’t all this terribly dusty, hidebound, and rabbinic?

In the current issue of the journal Azure, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik explains the spiritual significance of the legal principle. Far from being “merely†rabbinic, matrilineal descent is assumed by the Bible itself. In the book of Ezra (10:2-5), it’s given as being “according to the Torah†to treat children born of non-Jewish women as outsiders to the community.

But why should the Bible care? Because Jews aspire to have a relationship with God like the one modeled for us in the intimacy of the relationship with our mother.

Writes Soloveichik, “It is because of God’s maternal relationship with Israel, Isaiah explains, that the Jewish people will never be abandoned: ‘Can a woman forget her child, refrain from having mercy on the son of her womb?’â€Â

It is hardly surprising, then, that a Jew for Jesus should find himself unable to accept the Jewish mother as the criterion of Jewish identity. For our argument with Christianity turns upon the same two focal points that give meaning to matrilineal descent in the first place: namely, the Torah and its Author.

Christianity has, for centuries, meant giving up what is unique about the Jewish relationship with God, the relationship He framed at Mount Sinai in the eternal grammar of the Torah’s 613 commandments. The Torah over and over again affirms its own eternity as a practical obligation not to be altered in any way (Deuteronomy 13:1, 29:28, 30:11-14, etc.), a faith voided by the apostle Paul, who called Torah a “curse†from which we are “discharged†(Roman 7:6).

In return for giving up Torah, what does a Jew for Jesus get? A Jewish Christian will say: A relationship with God. Eternal reward. The truth.

But we already had those things. Some bargain.

Hey, I don’t mean to be too hard on Brickner. I like the guy.

I even feel warmly toward Jews for Jesus. In 1983, I was a high school senior taking classes at UCLA. Strolling on Bruin Walk one day I encountered a Jews for Jesus missionary nmed Sid who stumped me with Isaiah 53, a favorite Christian proof text. A typically ignorant product of a typical bar mitzvah education, I was stunned and scared to realize how little I understood about Judaism. The experience set me on a path to living as an Orthodox Jew.

I am convinced that, like Sid, Brickner wants to help. Nor did he set out to deceive Jews by claiming to be Jewish. It’s just that he isn’t, in fact, a Jew for Jesus. Too bad for him that a more accurate name for his organization, “Gentiles for Jesus,†doesn’t have the same ring to it.
 
S

Soma-Sight

Guest
Sigh....

First, truth in advertising: If Brickner were the head of Jews for Saving the Whales, it wouldn’t matter if he is unambiguously a Jew or not. But because his group’s whole pitch is based on the claim that lots of actual Jews believe in the Christian messiah, Brickner’s identity matters.
Well so much for that one. How can you be a "Jew for Jesus"?

Why dont they just be honest about and say..... Jews bad - Christians Good?

You technically CANNOT be a "Jew for Jesus"....

You would then be a Christian! Because all the "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are included in the Jews for Jesus package including accepting Him as your personal Saviour!

Oh well..

They should not have lied about Brickner's past because it will just hurt Christian credibililty all the more...
 
G

Georges

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
Sigh....

First, truth in advertising: If Brickner were the head of Jews for Saving the Whales, it wouldn’t matter if he is unambiguously a Jew or not. But because his group’s whole pitch is based on the claim that lots of actual Jews believe in the Christian messiah, Brickner’s identity matters.
Well so much for that one. How can you be a "Jew for Jesus"?

Why dont they just be honest about and say..... Jews bad - Christians Good?

You technically CANNOT be a "Jew for Jesus"....

Why not....? Peter, James and all of the Apostles (maybe except Paul) were all Jews for Jesus.....

After all, Jesus didn't start a new religion, he practiced Judaism....Paul created Christianity...The members of the Church at Jerusalem were all Jew's for Jesus who practiced Judaism.


You would then be a Christian! Because all the "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are included in the Jews for Jesus package including accepting Him as your personal Saviour!

Oh well..

They should not have lied about Brickner's past because it will just hurt Christian credibililty all the more...
 
S

Soma-Sight

Guest
Why not....? Peter, James and all of the Apostles (maybe except Paul) were all Jews for Jesus.....
Once they accepted Christ as Messiah/Saviour they became "Born Again" and "Christians".... They were no longer Jews.

I am sure any mainstream Christian organization would agree with this.
 

einstein

Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2005
Messages
259
The concept of Jews for Jesus makes as much sense as kosher pork! It is an intrinsic contradiction of terms.
 
R

reznwerks

Guest
Jew

Soma-Sight said:
Why not....? Peter, James and all of the Apostles (maybe except Paul) were all Jews for Jesus.....
Once they accepted Christ as Messiah/Saviour they became "Born Again" and "Christians".... They were no longer Jews.

I am sure any mainstream Christian organization would agree with this.
I think that there are two different definitions of the term Jew. The first type is a racial or genetic distinction the second is one who follows the Jewish faith but is not necessarily linked genetically or racially. A genetic Jew can abandon his faith but still remain a Jew.
 
S

Soma-Sight

Guest
The first type is a racial or genetic distinction
Couldnt you call that a HEBREW instead of Jew?

Jewish is more religious term and HEBREW more a racial one?????
 
R

reznwerks

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
The first type is a racial or genetic distinction
Couldnt you call that a HEBREW instead of Jew?
Technically yes but by definition they are considered the same.

Jewish is more religious term and HEBREW more a racial one?????
I've always considered the "Jewish" term encompassing both nationality and religion. I rarely hear a Jew refer to themselves as Hebrew but to be accurate I guess you could make the distintion.
 
S

Sunkissed

Guest
"For he is not a [real] Jew who is only one outwardly and publicly, nor is [true] circumcision something external and physical. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and [true] circumcision is of the heart, a spiritual and not a literal [matter]. His praise is not from men but from God."
Romans 2:28,29

I worship the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believe everything in the Old Testament is His truth. I believe all the prophecies about Messiah. When God sent Him to be born and raised a Jew among His people, to deliver us by His death and resurrection, I believe He fulfilled all those prophecies. I don't understand why the Church walked away from celebrating the feasts that God told His people to continue. I don't understand why the Church wanted to divest itself of its Jewish roots. I don't understand why we are called "Christians" and not Jews, after all, we were adopted into the family. My nieces and nephew took on the names of their parents when they were adopted, they didn't make up totally new ones. Who was that guy in Antioch who first called us "Christians"?? Why aren't we called Jews?? Peter, Paul, John, James, etc. didn't stop being Jews and anyone else that recognized God's Messiah became spiritual Jews, having had their hearts circumcised, according to Romans 2. I think this labeling thing got way out of hand and we've been in disarray ever since! :lol:

You know, just for the sake of illustration, lets say that Jesus isn't the Jewish Messiah. Let's also say, that Messiah finally comes on the horizon and the Jews, and any gentiles who care to, recognize Him and rally round Him and call upon Him to deliver them. Does it change the fact that the Jews are Jews because they acknowledge their Messiah?? No. Why then should the first century Jews who recognized Messiah as having come at that point (and those Jews who followed) be designated as ever having been anything but Jewish? Now, would it change the designation of the gentiles?? I think yes, because they would be embracing the Jewish belief in Messiah and partaking of the deliverance He offered, thereby becoming spiritual Jews.

I'm sorry if I'm not doing a stellar job at articulating my thoughts. I hope none are offended by what I've put forth. It's just something I mull over from time to time.

Sunny
 
B

BradtheImpaler

Guest
Jackie Mason suing Jews For Jesus for using him as a character in a gospel tract without his permission! :lol:

Go to MSN web page and look under "Entertainment"
 
P

Poke

Guest
Re: Jew

reznwerks said:
A genetic Jew can abandon his faith but still remain a Jew.
No one is a genetic Jew any more than you or me. Maybe you should say a "legacy jew" can abandon his faith and still remain a Jew.
 

Lewis

Member
Joined
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Messages
15,483
Gender
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Christian
Yes
Soma-Sight said:
The first type is a racial or genetic distinction
Couldnt you call that a HEBREW instead of Jew?

Jewish is more religious term and HEBREW more a racial one?????
Soma where did you get that last sentence from ? The word Jew is short for Judah, and they did not call themselves Jews in the Old Testament or the New Testament. And why is Hebrew more of a racial one. I have a mother and others in my family that are Hebrew, so what are you saying ?
 
R

reyjamiei

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
The first type is a racial or genetic distinction
Couldnt you call that a HEBREW instead of Jew?

Jewish is more religious term and HEBREW more a racial one?????
There were many Hebrew tribes, including the twelve tribes of Israel. Jews are decendants of the tribe of Judah. The word itself is from the Hebrew word yehudhi, originally meaning a member of the Hebrew tribe of Judah. The English word Jew is derived directly from the Latin Judaeus, meaning an inhabitant of Judaea.

http://uk.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_ ... /Jews.html
 
G

Guest

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
Why dont they just be honest about and say..... Jews bad - Christians Good?

You technically CANNOT be a "Jew for Jesus"....

You would then be a Christian! Because all the "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are included in the Jews for Jesus package including accepting Him as your personal Saviour!

Oh well..

They should not have lied about Brickner's past because it will just hurt Christian credibililty all the more...


Erm...did Jesus ever tell anybody to create a Christian church? A Church, yes, but a CHRISTIAN church?

I don't think he did. Chrisianity was created simply because a group of Jews separated from another group because of their belief in Christ as the Messiah.

Jesus Christ was Jewish. It wasn't him that called the Church Christian. Because of this, I respect the Jews very much.
 
R

reyjamiei

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
Couldnt you call that a HEBREW instead of Jew?

Jewish is more religious term and HEBREW more a racial one?????
All Jews are Hebrew or Israelite but not all Hebrews or Israelites are Jews. A Jew is an Israelite descended from the tribe of Judah.
 
Y

YESHUA

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
Sigh....



Well so much for that one. How can you be a "Jew for Jesus"?

Why dont they just be honest about and say..... Jews bad - Christians Good?

You technically CANNOT be a "Jew for Jesus"....

You would then be a Christian! Because all the "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are included in the Jews for Jesus package including accepting Him as your personal Saviour!

Oh well..

They should not have lied about Brickner's past because it will just hurt Christian credibililty all the more...
You tell me why one cannot be a Jew for Jesus?
can you only be a christian for christ?
 
S

smiling_grin

Guest
Soma-Sight said:
Sigh....



Well so much for that one. How can you be a "Jew for Jesus"?

Why dont they just be honest about and say..... Jews bad - Christians Good?

You technically CANNOT be a "Jew for Jesus"....

You would then be a Christian! Because all the "Fundamentals" of the Christian faith are included in the Jews for Jesus package including accepting Him as your personal Saviour!

Oh well..

They should not have lied about Brickner's past because it will just hurt Christian credibililty all the more...
What about Nazarenes? and other Jewish Christians?
 
G

garethppls

Guest
Once they accepted Christ as Messiah/Saviour they became "Born Again" and "Christians".... They were no longer Jews.

I am sure any mainstream Christian organization would agree with this.
I utterly disagree with this for a number of Biblical reasons.

1. The Bible tells us that the first use of Christians was in Antioch. So what did the Apostles call themselves during their ministry in Jerusalem?

Acts 11:26 (NRSV) said:
So it was that for an entire year they associated with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called "Christians".
So the question is? Did they continue to refer to themselves as Jews?

2. They still worshipped in the Temple for a reasonably long time after Christ's ascension
Acts 2:46 (NRSV) said:
Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple....
Acts 5:42 (NRSV) said:
And every day in the Temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as Messiah
3. The message was given to the Jews before the Gentiles, and the Apostles often preached in synagogues
Acts 9:22 (NRSV) said:
Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded by the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
Acts 13:15-16 (NRSV) said:
After the reading of the law and the prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent them a message saying, "Brothers if you have any word of exhortation for the people, give it". So Paul stood up with a gesture and began to speak.
Acts 14:1 (NRSV) said:
The same thing occurred in Iconium, where Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Gentiles became believers.
There are much more Biblical proofs that this is possible. I will explain them later.

Peace,
garethppls
 
A

Arj

Guest
God doesnt have denominations and the proper religeon is called the Truth. :biggrin
 

KenEOTE

Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2008
Messages
215
Re:

Well so much for that one. How can you be a "Jew for Jesus"?

Why dont they just be honest about and say..... Jews bad - Christians Good?

You technically CANNOT be a "Jew for Jesus"....

Your thought process is very scary. Reminds me of Germany in the 1930's. Jews bad? Wow. I guess that means Jesus is bad. He was a Jew after all. It is alarming how many in the modern church who claim to be part of the Body of Christ do not know the foundations of the faith. They think that the Bible begins in Matthew and ends around Jude some probably think it begins in Acts because the Gospels are too Jewish. They have no concept that we are part of the Jewish Faith. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah after all. We are grafted into the vine which is Christ. He did not come to do away with the Law he fulfilled it.
 

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