No matter how disconnected a Jew may be from Judaism, he is still likely to be appalled by the idea of worshipping Jesus. And that poses a great dilemma for Christian missionaries seeking to convert Jews.
Given this problem, some missionaries got the idea to try a backdoor tactic. They invented "Jews for Jesus," which uses a whole lexicon of Jewish-sounding buzz words in order to make Jesus more palatable to Jews. For example:
- Members of Jews for Jesus don't go to church, they go to a "Messianic Synagogue."
- Prayer is not held on Sunday, but on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
- They say that by accepting Jesus as Messiah, you're not converting to Christianity, you're instead becoming "a fulfilled Jew."
- The New Testament is called Brit Chadasha (Hebrew for "New Covenant").
- It's not the cross, it's "the tree."
- It's not baptism, but immersing in a mikveh.
- It's not a communion wafer, but matzah.
- Congregants wear a tallit and kipa, and bring a Torah scroll out of the Holy Ark – just like every other synagogue. After all, they proudly proclaim, Jesus himself was a Jew!
Their missionary campaigns are well-funded and relentless. The Jews for Jesus organization has spent millions of dollars in print and radio advertising, and has run a campaign of banner ads in New York City subways and on major web sites. If you see one of these ads, you should write a letter of protest to the host organization.
It is the responsibility of all Jews to take a stand.
Comedienne Joan Rivers started screaming on the air after a commercial for Jews for Jesus aired on her radio show. The ad featured two Jewish men arguing over whether Jesus is the Jewish messiah, while the Jewish song Hava Nagillah played in the background. "Do not proselytize on my show," Rivers ranted. "I was born a Jew and I plan to die a Jew. How dare you advertise on my show. I find this disgusting, I find this offensive, and I find this ridiculous!"
The Real Messianic Jews
Jews for Jesus is a subversive organization. The missionaries' approach to ensnare unsuspecting people includes quoting Torah verses out of context and gross mis-translations.
These deceptions are most successful with Jews who have no knowledge of their own Jewish heritage. In Russia, for example, where Jewish education had been suppressed for 70 years, missionaries sponsor "Jewish revival meetings," where a tallit-clad clergyman asks throngs of unsuspecting Russian Jews to "accept Jesus into your heart."
The sad thing is that tens of thousands of Jews (including an estimated 50,000 in Israel today) have fallen for this falsehood.
Ironically, Jews really could be called "Messianic Jews." One of Maimonides' classical "13 Principles of Faith" is:
"I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah, and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come."
There are two excellent organizations which counteract missionary activities and have succeeded in attracting "converts" back to Judaism. You can find them online at jewsforjudaism.org and outreachjudaism.org.