The Messianic Community in Israel
By: David Silver
What is the Messianic faith?
Messianic Judaism refers to a movement that combines the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah with some Jewish traditions. Combining Christianity with elements of Judaism, Messianic Judaism holds that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and "God the Son" (one person of the Trinity). Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are believed to be the authoritative scriptures (Wikipedia).
The faith emerged very soon after the end of the Six Day War in 1967 and the number of Jewish people joining this faith has been steadily increasing.
Who are Messianic Jews?
Messianic Jews are people who are born of Jewish parents and still consider themselves Jewish, even though they believe that the Jesus of Christianity, whom they prefer to call by his Hebrew name, Yeshua, is actually the long awaited for Messiah of Israel and the Jewish people.
Going back to 1967 and earlier, there have always been Jewish people who believed that Yeshua was the promised Messiah, however their numbers were extremely small, around the world, and even less in Israel. In the 48 years since 1967, the number of Messianic Jews in Israel has steadily increased. There are more than 180 Messianic Jewish communities in Israel, with around 15,000 - 20,000 members in total. Around the world, there are more than 600 Messianic Jewish communities of various sizes. One of the largest is in Kiev, with more than 1000 members.
In nearly every one of these Messianic groups, there are a mixed (faith) marriage families, so not all of the people are Jewish. Some references quote that there are between half a million and 1 million Messianic Jews in the world today.
Christians or Jews?
In Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, it is generally claimed that Jewish people who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, have converted to Christianity, and therefore are no longer Jewish. However the great majority of Messianic Jews strongly refute this claim. They say that Jews who become Buddists, Hindus, Bahais, Atheists are still considered to be Jewish, so why can't a Jew still be considered Jewish if he or she believes that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah.
Messianic Congregations in Israel
There are around 180 Messianic congregations in Israel which include Hebrew, English and Russian speaking congregations.
Schools & Colleges
Seven schools, from pre-school to college, in Netanya, Jerusalem and Tiberias offer a curriculum that includes Messianic bible teachings.
Laws & Practices
There is a variety of practice within Messianic Judaism regarding the strictness of Torah observance. Generally, "Torah observant" congregations observe Jewish prayers, biblical feasts, and Sabbath. Some Messianic Jews observe Shabbat on Saturdays. Worship services are generally held on Friday evenings (Erev Shabbat) or Saturday mornings.
Messianic Jews observe 7 festivals - known as the 7 Festivals of the Messiah, they include:
- Passover (Pesach): Feasting for Freedom
- The Festival of Unleavened Bread (Hag HaMatzah)
- The Festival of First Fruits (Bikkurim)
- The Festival of Pentecost (Shavuot)
- Rosh HaShanah: New Year
- Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement
- Sukkot: The Feast of Tabernacles
- Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
For more information, please contact David Silver via email at kiwi [@] netvision dot net dot il
Some other communities in Israel