Jews for Jesus

Jews for Jesus is a non-profit Messianic Jewish Christian[1] organization that proselytizes to Jews. They believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God[2] unlike Judaism, which views Jesus as a false prophet. Jews for Jesus is not considered a Jewish organization by any Jewish authorities.[3]

Jews for Jesus
Jews For Jesus logo.png
Formation1970; 50 years ago (1970) (as Hineni Ministries). 1973; 47 years ago (1973) (as Jews for Jesus)
FounderMoishe Rosen
Executive Director
David Brickner
Formerly called
Hineni Ministries

HistoryEdit

Jews for Jesus was first founded as Hineni Ministries, led by Moishe Rosen. By 1973, "Jews for Jesus" became the name of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. [4] Originally, "Jews for Jesus" was simply one of the organization's several slogans but after the media began to call the group "Jews for Jesus" the organization adopted that name.

Rosen and a small group of like-minded people began conducting community outreach on the streets and college campuses of San Francisco. As the organization grew, it was registered as a 501(c)3. In the following years, branches were established in New York, Chicago, and Boston. In 1978, the Jews for Jesus headquarters relocated to San Francisco, California where it remains to this day. In 1981, the organization expanded internationally.[5] Today, Jews for Jesus has offices in over a dozen cities around the world.[6]

David Brickner has been the executive director of Jews for Jesus since 1996.[7]

BeliefsEdit

 
The New York City office of Jews for Jesus
 
The London office of Jews for Jesus

Jews for Jesus claims to have found spiritual harmony between Jewish heritage and the Christian faith.

A summary of Jews for Jesus' beliefs:[8]

  • The Torah, the Writings, the Prophets, and the New Testament are divinely inspired, without error, and are the final authority in all matters of faith and life.
  • Traditional Jewish literature is valued, especially where it is supported by Scripture.
  • There is one sovereign God, existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They believe that this concept is rooted in Judaism.[9]
  • Mankind was created in the image of God, but due to sin, has been separated from the Creator.
  • Jesus is the Messiah and died for the sin of mankind as a substitutionary sacrifice. All who believe in Him have salvation.
  • The Church is an elect people in accordance with the New Covenant, both Jews and Gentiles who acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. [meaning]
  • Jesus will return in order to fulfill the Jewish prophecies of the Messianic era.
  • After the Messiah’s return, there will be a resurrection of the dead. Those who accept the Messiah will have everlasting communion with God, and those who do not will be eternally separated from Him.

OperationsEdit

Jews for Jesus is a registered 501(c)3 that employs approximately 250 staff worldwide. Jews for Jesus headquarters is located in San Francisco, California, and has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, Sydney, Johannesburg, London, Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Tel Aviv, Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, Jerusalem, and more.[10]

Once well-known for their distribution of hand-drawn and punny religious tracts, today, Jews for Jesus conducts community engagement through wider means. Examples of their outreach methods include: Jewish holiday events, one-on-one and group Bible studies, service projects, internet evangelism, and multi-purpose spaces such as the Moishe Rosen Center in Tel Aviv and the Upside Down cafe in Los Angeles.[11]

Funding and organizationEdit

Jews for Jesus’ income comes primarily from Christian donors. The nonprofit’s annual income breakdown is as follows: 87% individual support, 5% miscellaneous revenue, 5% congregational support, 3% congregational offerings. Their annual expenditures are as follows: 77% outreach, 12% administration, 11% fundraising. According to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the group's total income in FY 2018 was US$24,767,732 and total assets were $39,596,245.[12]

They are a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability[13] and are also members of MissioNexus.[14] Donations are tax deductible. An independent auditing firm, Eckhoff Accountancy, conducts the organization’s annual audit.

Jews for Jesus is governed by international boards of directors in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Israel, and Europe. The CEO, a position currently filled by David Brickner, is advised by an Executive Leadership Team, consisting of seven members.[15]

References in popular cultureEdit

Opposition and criticismEdit

Jews for Jesus has a contentious relationship with the Jewish community, and their methods have generated controversy. Jewish authorities, as well as the governing bodies of the State of Israel, hold the view that Messianic Judaism, the religious movement which Jews for Jesus is affiliated with, is not a sect of Judaism but a form of Evangelical Christianity.[17] Additionally, Gentiles who convert to Messianic Judaism are not recognized as Jewish by any Jewish sect.[18]

Belief in Jesus as deity, son of God, or even a non-divine Christ/Messiah or prophet (as in Islam), is held as incompatible with Judaism by all Jewish religious movements.[19][20] In a 2013 Pew Forum study, 60% of American Jews said that belief in Jesus as the Messiah was not "compatible with being Jewish", while 34% found it compatible and 4% did not know.[21]

In 1993 the Task Force on Missionaries and Cults of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRCNY) issued a statement which has been endorsed by the four major Jewish denominations: Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, and Reconstructionist Judaism, as well as national Jewish organizations.[22] Based on this statement, the Spiritual Deception Prevention Project at the JCRCNY stated:

On several occasions leaders of the four major Jewish movements have signed on to joint statements opposing Hebrew-Christian theology and tactics. In part they said: "Though Hebrew Christianity claims to be a form of Judaism, it is not ... It deceptively uses the sacred symbols of Jewish observance ... as a cover to convert Jews to Christianity, a belief system antithetical to Judaism ... Hebrew Christians are in radical conflict with the communal interests and the destiny of the Jewish people. They have crossed an unbridgeable chasm by accepting another religion. Despite this separation, they continue to attempt to convert their former co-religionists."[23]

The director of a counter-missionary group Torah Atlanta, Rabbi Efraim Davidson, stated that "the Jews for Jesus use aggressive proselytizing to target disenfranchised or unaffiliated Jews, Russian immigrants and college students" and that "their techniques are manipulative, deceptive and anti-Semitic."[24]

In an interview for Beliefnet, Orthodox Rabbi Irving Greenberg, the author of For the Sake of Heaven and Earth, said:

There are Jews for Jesus who use the trappings of Judaism to bring people into a religion that teaches that Judaism is finished. Jews for Jesus are worse theologically than the mainstream of Catholicism or Protestantism, which now affirm that Judaism is a valid religion. Jews for Jesus say that it is not. They use the Jewish trappings, but de facto, they are teaching the classic Christian supersessionism—that Judaism was at best a foreshadowing of Christianity.[25]

ChristianEdit

Some Western Christians object to evangelizing Jews because they see Jewish religious practice as valid in and of itself.[26] Some Liberal Protestant denominations that have issued statements criticizing evangelism of Jews include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,[27] the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA,[28] which said in 1988 that Jews have their own covenant with God.[29] The Board of Governors of the Long Island Council of Churches opposes proselytizing of Jews, and voiced these sentiments in a statement that "noted with alarm" the "subterfuge and dishonesty" inherent in the "mixing [of] religious symbols in ways which distort their essential meaning", and named Jews for Jesus as one of the three groups about whom such behavior was alleged.[30]

In 2003, the sponsorship of Jews for Jesus by All Souls Church, Langham Place, a conservative evangelical church in London, with a launch event on Rosh Hashanah launching a UK mission targeting the Jewish community, led to the Interfaith Alliance UK, a coalition of Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious leaders, issuing a letter of protest to the Archbishop of Canterbury.[31]

OtherEdit

The InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington includes Muslims, Jews, and Christian groups.[32] The Conference states that they "support the right of all religions to share their message in the spirit of good will";[33] however, Rev. Clark Lobenstine has condemned the "proselytizing efforts" of "Jews for Jesus and other messianic Jewish groups".[34] His wording matched the Conference's 1987 "Statement on Proselytism",[33] which makes claims against "groups that have adopted the label of Hebrew Christianity, Messianic Judaism, or Jews for Jesus",[35] so it is unclear which claims are directed at Jews for Jesus in particular.

America's Religions. An Educator's Guide to Beliefs and Practices contains "[a] note about Jews for Jesus, Messianic Jews, Hebrew Christians, and similar groups: Jews in these groups who have converted to Christianity but continue to observe various Jewish practices are no longer considered part of the Jewish community in the usual sense".[36]

There are several other organizations that oppose identification of Jews for Jesus as a Jewish group.[37][38]

LitigationEdit

1987 – Freedom of speechEdit

In Board of Airport Commissioners of Los Angeles v. Jews for Jesus, Inc. the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Jews for Jesus in a free speech case against the Los Angeles International Airport.[39][40][41]

1998 and 2005–2006 – Online nameEdit

Jews for Jesus has been involved in litigation regarding Internet use of its name. In 1998 they successfully sued Steven Brodsky for cybersquatting — registering the domain name jewsforjesus.org for a site criticizing the organization.[42] The domain now belongs to Jews for Jesus and is used for their main site.

In 2005 Jews for Jesus sued[43] Google for allowing a Blogspot user to put up a site at the third-level subdomain jewsforjesus.blogspot.com. In September 2006 Christianity Today reported that "Jews for Jesus settled out of court with a critical blogger identified as 'Whistle Blower' on jewsforjesus.blogspot.com. The evangelistic ministry assumed control of the site."[44]

2006 – misuse of Jackie Mason nameEdit

In 2006 comedian and actor Jackie Mason filed a lawsuit against Jews for Jesus, alleging that they unlawfully distributed a pamphlet which used his name and likeness in a way that suggested he was a member of the group. In fact, Mason is Jewish and not associated with Jews for Jesus.[45] Jews for Jesus issued a detailed response to the allegation on their website.[46]

A judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a preliminary injunction against Jews for Jesus over the pamphlet, finding the distribution of the pamphlet to be protected by the First Amendment, and also stated that the pamphlet did not suggest that Mason was a Christian.[47]

In December 2006, Mason dropped the lawsuit against Jews for Jesus after they issued a letter of apology to him. The group's executive director, David Brickner, stated in the letter to Mason that he wanted "to convey my sincere apologies for any distress that you felt over our tract." Brickner continued that he believed its publication was protected by the Constitution, but the group was willing in the interest of peace and love for Israel to retire the pamphlet. Mason replied in front of the federal court in Manhattan where he accepted the apology, "There's no such thing as a Jew for Jesus. It's like saying a black man is for the KKK. You can't be a table and a chair. You're either a Jew or a Gentile."[48]

"That Jew Died for You" videoEdit

In 2014, Jews for Jesus published a three-minute YouTube video called That Jew Died for You, to coincide with Passover, Holy Week and Holocaust Remembrance Day on 28 April.[49] A long-haired Jesus dragging a large wooden cross appears in the film until an Auschwitz extermination camp guard sends him to the gas chambers and says "just another Jew" in German.[50] Jews for Jesus said that the objective of the film was for Jesus to be identified with the victims rather than the perpetrators of the Holocaust and that "the Holocaust has been used – perhaps more than any other event or topic – to prevent Jewish people from considering the good news of Jesus."[49] Jay Michaelson, writing in The Jewish Daily Forward, described it as "the most tasteless YouTube video ever" and wrote, "not to state the obvious, but it desecrates the memory of six million Jews to use their suffering as a way to convert Jews to Christianity."[51] Fox News Channel and History refused to play an advertisement for the film.[50]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "About Jews for Jesus". jewsforjesus.org. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  2. ^ "Who We Are". Jews for Jesus.
  3. ^ "Jews for Jesus". www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  4. ^ Carol Harris-Shapiro (1999). Messianic Judaism: A rabbi's journey through religious change in America. Beacon Press. p. 25. ISBN 9780807010402.
  5. ^ "Retiring Jews for Jesus Leader Nurtures a Growing Faith". SFChronicle.com. 1996-06-15. Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  6. ^ "Home". jewsforjesus.org. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  7. ^ Green, Emma (2014-12-23). "Hanukkah With the Jews for Jesus".
  8. ^ Statement of Faith (Jews for Jesus) written January 1, 2005
  9. ^ "A Look at the Trinity From a Messianic Jewish Perspective". Jews for Jesus.
  10. ^ "Find Locations". Jews for Jesus.
  11. ^ "What We Do - About Jews for Jesus - Jews for Jesus".
  12. ^ Jews for Jesus. Financial information for FY2010 (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability)
  13. ^ "ECFA". www.ecfa.org.
  14. ^ "Missio Nexus". missionexus.org.
  15. ^ "Finances". Jews for Jesus.
  16. ^ Peele, Anna (August 6, 2014). "Oh Lord, There Goes That Damn Pratt Boy Again, Bless His Heart". Esquire.
  17. ^ Burton, Tara Isabella (2018-10-31). "Messianic Jews and Jews for Jesus, explained". Vox. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  18. ^ "Who Are Messianic "Jews"?". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  19. ^ "For most American Jews, it is acceptable to blend some degree of foreign spiritual elements with Judaism. The one exception is Christianity, which is perceived to be incompatible with any form of Jewishness. Jews for Jesus and other Messianic Jewish groups are thus seen as antithetical to Judaism and are completely rejected by the majority of Jews". (Kaplan, Dana Evan. The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism, Cambridge University Press, August 15, 2005, p. 9).
  20. ^ A belief in the divinity of Jesus is incompatible with Judaism:
    • "The point is this: that the whole Christology of the Church — the whole complex of doctrines about the Son of God who died on the Cross to save humanity from sin and death — is incompatible with Judaism, and indeed in discontinuity with the Hebraism that preceded it." Rayner, John D. A Jewish Understanding of the World, Berghahn Books, 1998, p. 187. ISBN 1-57181-974-6
    • "It has always been recognized, for instance, after the rise of Christianity and Islam, that these two religions are incompatible with Judaism and that no Jew can consistently embrace them while remaining an adherent of Judaism." Neusner, Jacob & Avery-Peck, Alan Jeffery. The Blackwell Reader in Judaism, Blackwell Publishing, 2001, p. 8. ISBN 0-631-20738-4
    • "Aside from its belief in Jesus as the Messiah, Christianity has altered many of the most fundamental concepts of Judaism." Kaplan, Aryeh. The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology: Volume 1, Illuminating Expositions on Jewish Thought and Practice, Mesorah Publication, 1991, p. 264. ISBN 0-89906-866-9
    • "[The] doctrine of Christ was and will remain alien to Jewish religious thought." Wylen, Stephen M. Settings of Silver: An Introduction to Judaism, Paulist Press, 2000, p. 75. ISBN 0-8091-3960-X
    • "For a Jew, however, any form of shituf is tantamount to idolatry in the fullest sense of the word. There is then no way that a Jew can ever accept Jesus as a deity, mediator or savior (messiah), or even as a prophet, without betraying Judaism. To call oneself, therefore, a 'Hebrew-Christian,' a 'Jew for Jesus,' or in the latest version a 'messianic Jew,' is an oxymoron. Just as one cannot be a 'Christian Buddhist,' or a 'Christian for Krishna,' one cannot be a 'Jew for Jesus.'" Schochet, Rabbi J. Immanuel. "Judaism has no place for those who betray their roots", Canadian Jewish News, July 29, 1999.
    • This July, Hebrew-Christian groups such as Jews for Jesus will work to convert Jews to another religion. The Jewish Response to Missionaries (NY Board of Rabbis)
    • Judaism and Jesus Don't Mix (foundationstone.com)
    • Jews believe that "Jews for Jesus", "Messianic Jews", and "Hebrew Christians" are no longer Jews, even if they were once Jews (whatjewsbelieve.org)
    • "If you believe Jesus is the messiah, died for anyone else's sins, is God's chosen son, or any other dogma of Christian belief, you are not Jewish. You are Christian. Period." (Jews for Jesus: Who's Who & What's What by Rabbi Susan Grossman (beliefnet – virtualtalmud) August 28, 2006; archived 2006-11-23 at )
    • "For two thousand years, Jews rejected the claim that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the dogmatic claims about him made by the church fathers — that he was born of a virgin, the son of God, part of a divine Trinity, and was resurrected after his death. ... For two thousand years, a central wish of Christianity was to be the object of desire by Jews, whose conversion would demonstrate their acceptance that Jesus has fulfilled their own biblical prophecies." (Jewish Views of Jesus by Susannah Heschel, in Jesus In The World's Faiths: Leading Thinkers From Five Faiths Reflect On His Meaning by Gregory A. Barker, editor. (Orbis Books, 2005) ISBN 1-57075-573-6. p.149)
    • "[There] are limits to pluralism, beyond which a group is schismatic to the point where it is no longer considered Jewish. For example, everyone considers Messianic Judaism and belief in Buddha as outside of the Jewish sphere." (Why did the majority of the Jewish world reject Jesus as the Messiah, and why did the first Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah? by Rabbi Shraga Simmons)
    • "No Jew accepts Jesus as the Messiah. When someone makes that faith commitment, they become Christian. It is not possible for someone to be both Christian and Jewish." (Why don't Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah? by Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner)
  21. ^ "Chapter 3: Jewish Identity". 1 October 2013.
  22. ^ (PDF). 3 November 2006 https://web.archive.org/web/20061103010412/http://www.jcrcny.org/pdf/sdpp/MEETINGTHECHALLENG2.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 November 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions About Hebrew-Christian Missionaries & "Jews for Jesus"" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-28. Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. Spiritual Deception Prevention Project
  24. ^ Portland Jews Brace for Assault by 'Jews for Jesus' Archived 2006-05-15 at the Wayback Machine By Paul Haist (Jewish Review) May 15, 2002
  25. ^ "Rabbi Irving Greenberg on Jewish-Christian relations, the Holocaust, Israel, religion, pluralism". Beliefnet.
  26. ^ Pluralistic opposition:
  27. ^ Guidelines for Lutheran – Jewish Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Archived 2009-06-04 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
  28. ^ Spector, S. Evangelicals and Israel, 2008, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 114
  29. ^ "A Theological Understanding of the Relationship Between Christians and Jews, 199th General Assembly (1987) of the Presbyterian Church (USA)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-05.
  30. ^ Jews for Jesus: Targeting Jews for Conversion with Subterfuge and Deception, Anti-Defamation League Archived 2012-03-25 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved July 5, 2009.
  31. ^ The Guardian Imams join plea for gay tolerance 26 September 2003
  32. ^ {cite web|url=https://ifcmw.org/about-us/member-faiths/}
  33. ^ a b "PCUSA's excerpt of the IFCMW's 'Statement on Proselytism'" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
  34. ^ "Proselytism Efforts Condemned". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 1987-03-26. Retrieved 2020-10-23.
  35. ^ "IFCMW Statement on Proselytism in a longer quote". Archived from the original on 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
  36. ^ Benjamin Hubbard; John Hatfield; James Santucci (2007). America's Religions. An Educator's Guide to Beliefs and Practices. Teacher Ideas Press, a Division of Libraries Unlimited. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-56308-469-0.
  37. ^ "Jews for Jesus".
  38. ^ Balmer, Randall. Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, Baylor University Press, November 2004, p. 448
  39. ^ "L.A. Airport's Free Speech Curb Upset by High Court : 'Jews for Jesus' Win Rights Case". Los Angeles Times. June 15, 1987. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  40. ^ Sekulow, Jay; Zimmerman, Erik (2012–2013). "Reflections on Jews for Jesus: Twenty-Five Years Later" (PDF). Regent University Law Review. 25 (1): 1–23. Retrieved July 16, 2020.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  41. ^ Savage, David (June 16, 1987). "LAX Ban on Soliciting Rejected by High Court : Justices Say Rule Goes Too Far in Limiting Free Speech; Larger Question of Exclusion Ignored". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  42. ^ "Jews for Jesus: Targeting Jews for Conversion - Legal Cases". Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith. Archived from the original on 2012-10-13.
  43. ^ Google Sued for Trademark Infringement Based on Third-Level Subdomain by Eric Goldman (CircleID) December 30, 2005
  44. ^ Christianity Today News Briefs September 1, 2006
  45. ^ "Comic sues Jews for Jesus". Archived from the original on 2006-08-29.
  46. ^ Press Release: Jews for Jesus and Jackie Mason (Jews for Jesus) August 25, 2006
  47. ^ Jackie Mason Charges Against Jews For Jesus Denied By U.S. District Court Archived 2006-12-11 at the Wayback Machine, November 8, 2006
  48. ^ USA Today, nymag.com Archived 2007-10-16 at the Wayback Machine (and many others) quoting an Associated Press release, December 4, 2006.
  49. ^ a b Heather Saul (25 April 2014). "Jews for Jesus video showing Jesus being sent to Nazi gas chambers sparks outrage". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2014-04-28.
  50. ^ a b "'That Jew died for you' - the 'most tasteless YouTube video ever'?". Haaretz. 23 April 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-06-27.
  51. ^ Jay Michaelson (17 April 2014). "When Jesus Died at Auschwitz". The Jewish Daily Forward. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17.

Further readingEdit

  • Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Rosen (Thomas Nelson, 2012) ISBN 978-1-59555-491-8
  • Not ashamed: The story of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Tucker (Multnomah Publishers, 2000) ISBN 978-1-57673-700-2
  • Sentenced for Life: A Story of an Entry and an Exit into the World of Fundamentalist Christianity and Jews for Jesus by Jo Ann Schneider Farris (Writers Club Press, 2002) ISBN 0-595-24940-X
  • Messianic Judaism: A rabbi's journey through religious change in America by Carol Harris-Shapiro (Beacon Press, 1999) ISBN 978-0-8070-1040-2
  • Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 1880–2000 by Yaakov Ariel (The University of North Carolina Press, 1999) ISBN 0-8078-2566-2
  • Hawking God. A Young Jewish Woman's Ordeal in Jews for Jesus by Ellen Kamentsky (Sapphire Press, 1993) An excerpt
  • Jews for Jesus: An Anthropological Study by Juliene G. Lipson (AMS Press, 1990) ISBN 0-404-62605-X
  • Smashing the Idols: A Jewish Inquiry into the Cult Phenomenon by Gary D. Eisenberg (Jason Aronson, 1988) ISBN 0-87668-974-8

External linksEdit