I was born in the south Bronx of NYC during the 60’s, the product of an inter-faith marriage between Judaism and Christianity. My parents were not religious even though my father was bar mitzvah’d, and it was my grandfather who included me culturally within Judaism and raised me with Jewish traditions. And although I was given a bris and a hebrew name and entered in the register of a Reform shul my adherence or passion to my heritage was more or less taken for granted. I was a secular Jew and it started not to matter to me at all so I wandered from any type of observance.
Though many Shabbat’s into my early twenties were spent with my grandfather after he came home from shul with bagels and schmears, eggs lox and onions… and enjoying the day with him at his request. He even took me to synagogue more than once. Yet, as my family fell apart when I hit my teen years I was more and more what you would describe as a secular Jew. I knew I was Jewish, but that was about all it meant to me, a family heritage. And since my family was crumbling around me it held little meaning to me any longer. Especially after we left NYC and moved out west.
As I entered high school I started to become interested in spirituality, so I started reading..and reading..Philo, Socrates, Antone Levey, the Bible… I had become so disconnected from my Jewish roots that I actually considered myself ‘atheist’ at one point, denying God all together. That didn’t last long. Ever see a Jew try to deny God? It’s a hoot. After peeking over the fire wall at the devil’s party I let go of my grip in shock and never climbed that wall again. At this point I knew I had to get back to God.
So at 18 I made a promise to God that I would no longer reject him as my God. That I would serve the God of my fathers. But at 18 I did not know what this really meant. So many years went by dealing with my ‘self’ and building my ‘self’ up. At least I had stopped rejecting God all together.
But by 22 I had still managed to make a complete mess of my life. Even with my love of God. And I hit another bottom in my life, which caused me to re-evaluate my intent.
So I picked up the bible one more time. And, since I was not raised strictly orthodox it didn’t matter to me that it was a Christian bible with that ‘new’ testament included in the back. I started reading it too. And then it happened, after reading the words of Yeshua, I accepted them as real. And offered my life to Him.
I found a church and became baptized, then left. Haha! This was my first church experience, and as a Jew I didn’t want what they were offering, I only wanted to dedicate my life to Yeshua. And I didn’t see how they had anything to do with that, though they say they have everything to do with it. I remained my rebel self and held to my God, Yeshua and my sacrifice of life to him as something between me and him alone.
So, now that I had become a believer in Messiah this made me even more of a pariah to both sides. I was not about to run into the doors of an institution just because they say I should, shul or church. God did not lead me into orthodox Judaism, nor was God leading me into the Church. This was my birth as a “Messianic” Jew.
That was over 25yrs ago. Today I have been married for over 14 years to a beautiful wife who has blessed me with 3 children. I’ve managed to bar mitzvah one of them so far. I have been teaching the Messianic way for about 10 years online.
I didn’t become a Messianic Jew because I believed I was called to keep the law. As a Jew by birth I became a ‘Messianic’ Jew because I was called by the Spirit of God to believe in Yeshua’s testimony and witness, of God’s witness about Him as Messiah.
I don’t believe Jews become Messianic because they feel called to observe the laws. We are born within the covenantal people of God to begin with. The law applied to us naturally by birth, and we have been in relationship with God through the law from birth, or conversion.
What Messianic Jews have been called to is the testimony of Yeshua, that is what makes us ‘Messianic’ Jews. Not some calling to something we were born within already.
No Messianic Jew I have ever met says he became MJ because of a draw to observe the laws given Moses. If they were Jewish to begin with they would already have had a relationship with God through Torah. The unique qualifier of a Messianic Jew is a Jewish person who has begun to believe in the testimony of Yeshua. Not a Jew who has begun to believe they should observe the law. That’s an oxymoron.
I was drawn to Messianic Judaism because I wanted to be around other Jews who believed in the testimony of Messiah Yeshua, as we remain Jewish in our faith.
I wanted to enjoy the Jewish revival that was apparently being realized in our generation. Motivated largely by the rebirth of Israel in our time. I desired to be part of a movement within the Jewish people who were returning to faith in Yeshua as the original apostles had testified and witnessed about.
Torah observance was/is not my draw….”remaining” part of the Jewish community while professing faith in Yeshua’s testimony is.
I do not believe Yeshua’s testimony was to return us to that which we were already apart of. I believe he calls us into our redeemed future.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Jewish adventures in the diaspora.
Scripture, ethics and spiritual formation