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Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

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Question:

I was accosted at the beach today by a guy from Jews for Jesus. He offered me a New Testament in Yiddish and said that many Jews have been "saved" by accepting Jesus as the messiah. I just ignored him. Then I saw a big ad in the newspaper from the same people. My question: Can a Jew believe in Jesus?

Answer:

Of course a Jew can believe in Jesus. Just like a vegetarian can enjoy a rump steak, a peace activist can join a violent demonstration, and a dictator who preaches martyrdom can surrender himself to his enemies. As long as logic and clear thinking are suspended, anything makes sense!

I think your response to that missionary was the best one - to ignore him. Missionising is not a new phenomenon. Certain Christian sects believe that their messiah will only return when the Jews accept him. Throughout history Jews have been threatened with death, torture and expulsion if they don't convert. More recently, missionaries targeted the weak of our community - the elderly, new immigrants, and the underprivileged - in an attempt to exploit their vulnerability. All these attempts have had little or no success. Whether religious or not, Jews are reluctant to give up their Jewishness.

So they came up with a new ploy. Rather than demand conversion, they offered Jews to remain Jewish, and even "complete" their Jewishness by accepting Jesus. Thus Jews for Jesus was born.

This is a movement of non-Jews who pose as Jews by taking on Jewish names. They do usually have a token Jewish member, who is invariably either ignorant of Judaism at best or psychologically imbalanced at worst. They are a sham.

All religions are free to present their beliefs in the open market of ideas. But if they have to resort to slimy tactics like Jews for Jesus does, then they obviously have nothing to offer a thinking person.

Editor's Note: Visit Jews for Judaism for a comprehensive counter-missionary handbook.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (312)
August 15, 2015
We all fit in this world: stay together but not scrambled.
Christians are widely accepted in our western world with a missionary reputation all over the world. Christians started more than two thousand years ago as a community and since then have been successful in solving the spiritual problems of many people. However, some of us despite having been born into Christian families, Christianism hasn't solved our spiritual problems: causes, there is a wide spectrum, and so we appeal to sites like Chabad to get some water for our thirsty souls.
Jorge
Qro. Mexico
August 12, 2015
To Uri
Uri - this is a thread about Jewish-Christian relations and the role of Christian proselytes in defining that. The article expressed an opinion and inevitably provokes debate. Of course Christians and Jews should interact in the comment section - this is the beauty of the internet and an example of why, right now, it is our best tool in the fight against intolerant prejudices.

You have already asked if I am a "missionary".

No, I am not a missionary.

You wouldn't know I was a Christian if you met me, unless you directly asked.

And why should Christians not be interested in Judaism or Jewish websites? Our religion is built on an edifice of Jewish philosophy and was invented by Jews. It's totally natural to investigate where this comes from and some of the more philosophical articles here are very thought provoking.

I only comment on this article because I think as a Christian I can add to it.
Anonymous
UK
August 11, 2015
Why Discuss Christianity
Uri -- What we can learn from Christians is that they have a genuine desire to be right with G-d. Most Jews couldn't care less. But often, approached with a compelling "spiritual" message, they can be intrigued and follow along. That is why we have lost hundreds of thousands to Christianity. The Christian is trying to share what they believe to be truth, and the Jewish follower, not knowing any better, is convinced as well. Jews happening upon this web site should be aware of the issues, and this is a good forum for that.

The structure of services was developed decades ago when more Jews felt connected. But now they're alienated, and Rabbis need to re-invent the synagogue experience accordingly. Secondly, Jews don't know Hebrew -- but that's unlikely to change. So at least they should study Tanakh using a good Jewish translation. And understand that the Gospels are largely fictional, and when one scratches the surface, one finds a truly contradictory, baseless theology.
Jim D.
Los Angeles
August 11, 2015
Jim D about 40% of Germans are still Catholic. People are complex. Luther started out defending the Jews but turned against them when they didn't join his war on catholicism and become 'protestant' Jews. The puritan protestant Oliver Cromwell was an early zionist who readmitted Jews to England (from where Edward II expelled them in 12th century) on the one hand while on the other his conquest of Ireland killed maybe 200,000 people, banned Christmas and burned catholics at the stake like logs. If Luther hadn't been such a massive zealot he would never have risked his life fighting the Catholic Church and maybe we wouldn't have freedom of religion. It's this complexity which is the reason people should not be typecast. We are all a mix of good and bad. Religion serves to bring out the best in us by bringing us closer to G-d over time, but it is never simple. G-d is reality and reality is complex.
Anonymous
Uk
August 11, 2015
Luther and Protestants - not the same thing
AnonUK, I will happily take your advice and read up. I suppose Luther struck a particular chord among Germans, who already had brought forth a long history of barbarism stretching back through the many Jewish persecutions, the Crusades, and the invasions of Rome. Something like national character, I suppose. But Luther rejected all who were infidels in his view, no matter from which corner they came. Although he reserved particular venom for Jews.
Jim D.
Los Angeles
August 10, 2015
To UK anonymous
This is a Jewish website where people come to learn about Torah. If people would be interested to know about the Christian religion they would go to a Christian website. Jesus, Luther and the rest of his followers do not add one iota to our Torah or to our heritage. We have one and unique G-d and one Torah which He gave us. We don't need or want anything else
Uri Yitzchak
Orlando Fl
July 29, 2015
Luther and Protestants - not the same thing
Uri and Jim D - Luther does not define Protestantism, which is from schism but is also schismatic. He was simply the most famous reformer, but had equal contemporaries in John Calvin and John Knox. You will have to read up yourself on Christian philosemitism, restorationism, Protestant reform, Christian Zionism etc. but you will find they are mainly Protestant affairs. And no - they are not simple either, evolving linearly from one philosophy or interpretation of scripture and inviting universal acceptance or citing one influence. Some of it is born from respect for Torah, some from the conviction a Christian must love others unconditionally etc. and yes - there were protestant antisemites. Protestant reform produced the modern nation state with religious freedom. It happened first in the Protestant Anglo Saxon world and Jews left Catholic Europe to live in it, especially America. the only comparable competing philosophy was French republicanism,which again removed the catholic church.
Anonymous
UK
July 29, 2015
Response to Anonymous UD's Second 7-28-15 Comment
Many secular Jews are afraid to be Jews, whether their fear is considered or unconscious. But inside every Jew resides a deep connection to the Jewish community and to his or her Jewish past. The subtle and inconvenient pull of those strings are felt, but often suppressed.

To be a Jew means to live as a Jew, embracing a lifestyle that sets one apart. It also means facing, head-on, certain profound questions: Who is G-d and what does He want of me? Am I up to the challenge of taking on the burden of bringing forth and carrying forward our three thousand year old legacy? Am I prepared to take a stand and recognize what I really am -- and have the world see it too? It's no small order. But following what may seem at first like taking on a burden, soon blossoms the joyous expression of living fully what is deep in one's DNA.

Yes, there is much Christians can learn from Jews, and vice versa. We are different, yet we can enrich each other. But first, a Jew must be a Jew.
Jim D.
Los Angeles
July 28, 2015
I had another thought about our original topic. Today, a nurse called me because I need to go to the hospital. I have noticed on the patient forms now, that racial and religious belief questions are really growing , taking up half the page on the form. I have stopped answering these devisive questions. It is rude to ask me my beliefs, my personal DNA, it is out of hand and I think these questions foster division more and more. Maybe the people making these forms are part of a social vacuum cleaner selling their dust to politicians.. Duh. My husband buys me books on how to engage in conversations with proselytizers and others of that ilk. I should be more vocal, more filled with facts as to how to represent my people, but I always just look at anyone who steps over the line and I clearly state, I am Jewish, and then go to another topic. I think it has been drummed into me not to encourage converts and just remain passive, but singularly strong with my 9 million Jewish family members.
Sheri Williams
Hastings, MI
July 28, 2015
Response to Anonymous UK 7-28-2015 Comment
Your remark is academic, and I would hardly paint such a rosy picture. First, there has always been sporadic support for Jews throughout the ages, including by popes, but that ebbed and flowed, and didn't change the overall course of antisemitism.

The Protestant Reformation was sparked by Martin Luther, who as we all know, wrote the playbook the Nazi's later acted out, and the virulent antisemitism he promulgated was palpably retained in Protestantism and provided the undercurrent of support that made the Holocaust possible.

Even today, the UK isn't doing enough to counter recent Muslim antisemitism, and a recent poll showed that 2/3 of secondary students there don't know that the Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, and 25% don't know what Auschwitz was used for.

And do you realize the sad irony of what you (somewhat myopically) said? "in the Anglosphere, which is where most of today's Jews outside of Israel still live." That's because the Holocaust wiped out a third of world Jewry!
Jim D.
Los Angeles
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