In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, over one-third of Jews in the United States said that someone can be Jewish even if they believe that Jesus was the Messiah. This runs counter to what I was taught as a child, but it’s the fundamental tenet of Messianic Judaism, a movement that’s been growing and gaining prominence internationally, particularly in the United States and Israel. There are now over 100 Messianic Jewish congregations in the United States, and the State Department estimated in 2012 that about 20,000 Messianics were living in Israel. Last month, the Israeli government declared that Messianic Jewish congregations are exempt from municipal taxes under the same law that applies to traditional Jewish synagogues.
Messianic Judaism is controversial. It’s not accepted by most Jews, and it’s also rejected by some Christians. The recent growth of Messianic Judaism has gained scant attention from the press, perhaps because they don’t know what to make of it. Is it, as some Jewish scholars argue, a quietly inclusive, grassroots, healing, but persecuted movement that can properly be called Jewish? Or is it a patently self-contradicting notion that has been seized upon by the right-wing Christian propaganda machine—supported by divisive figures like Glenn Beck and Rick Santorum — in preparation for the prophesied End Times?
It is, of course, both, and I believe that the "processing" that people are collectively doing in and around Messianic Judaism here and in Israel reflects—and can helpfully inform—our views of the Abrahamic faiths, Zionism, community identity, and even the nature of words themselves.
I am raising $1,500 for my work researching and writing an article of 1,500 words, give or take, that gives a good introduction to Messianic Judaism today. I’ll mainly report from home via phone / Skype / email, so I’ll incur no big travel expenses, but I do hope to visit at least one nearby Messianic congregation. I don’t know of any in San Francisco, where I live, but there’s one in nearby Los Gatos and another in Walnut Creek.
Some people and institutions that I hope to talk with for my research include:
If this article sounds interesting to you, this is your opportunity to support it! I’m excited about this project, and would love to find out more for others who share my curiosity about this topic.
Perhaps we are the only ones who see the growth of Messianic Judaism as interesting, in which case we’ll have fun learning more about it and discussing it ourselves.
But if others also like this article—see it as informative, thought-provoking and relevant coverage of something that’s been overlooked by the press—then wouldn’t you also enjoy knowing that you helped make it happen?
Thanks for reading this far. I welcome any questions or suggestions.