History & Timeline

Here's a little look at our history as an organization

History

It was just after the social ferment of the 1960s. A spiritual revolution was grabbing the lives of young people throughout North America, many of whom were Jewish. Out of this matrix of social unrest and spiritual seeking, Jews for Jesus was born as an organization in 1973. Founded by veteran missionary Moishe Rosen, the organization changed the way the Jewish community looked at the person of Jesus.

But Jews for Jesus began much earlier, as the plaque outside our headquarters building reads, “Established A.D. 32—give or take a year.” The movement of Jews to faith in Jesus began in the first century. And there was a substantial movement of Jews to faith in Jesus in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, both in Europe and in North America.

But this late twentieth century movement was different. Jewish followers of Jesus proclaimed both their faith in Jesus and their Jewishness in a new, vibrant way. Homemade pamphlets called “broadsides” were being handed out on street corners and campuses. A new music genre—Jewish gospel—was developed and the Liberated Wailing Wall was putting out albums of original music. By the mid-1970s, Jews for Jesus had opened several branches in the United States. That’s when we also began our first secular media outreach with a full-page evangelistic ad in the New York Times in 1976 followed by ads in newspapers and on billboards in major cities across the US, Jews for Jesus started publishing ISSUES (a publication that invites Jewish people to consider Jesus) and conducted exploratory witnessing expeditions to Israel and Northern Ireland.

Then came the 1980s. The Rubik’s Cube swept popular culture and Ferris Bueller was having his famous day off. For Jews for Jesus, it meant the establishment of international branches in cities such as Toronto and Johannesburg. In the eighties we also instituted a Masters in Jewish Missions program in conjunction with Fuller Theological Seminary. Like Jews everywhere, we placed a value on education, and we required any of our missionary staff without a higher degree to go through this program. The eighties were also a watershed decade for another reason: the United States Supreme Court ruled in our favor when we challenged an ordinance that banned us from distributing religious literature at Los Angeles International Airport.

On the eve of the 1990s, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union split apart, ending decades of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. That allowed us to start branches in the former Soviet Union, which, within the space of seven years, became fully indigenized, headed and staffed by Russian and Ukrainian Jewish believers in Jesus. Additional international branches were established, including branches in London, Paris, Sydney and Tel Aviv. We began a website on the fledgling World Wide Web in 1995. In May of 1996, Moishe Rosen stepped down as executive director, believing that a new and younger generation needed to lead the way. David Brickner (a fifth-generation Jewish believer in Jesus) was appointed executive director, having served in various leadership positions throughout his first seventeen years with Jews for Jesus.

As the new millennium began (remember the panic over Y2K?) our Israel branch received amutah, or official status. We opened a branch in Essen, Germany, and completed an outreach (called “Behold Your God,” after Isaiah 40:9) to all 55 cities worldwide that had 25,000 or more Jewish people. Other branches opened in Miami, Phoenix and Montreal. We established a video department in addition to our web department. Both of these later expanded into a full digital media department (including a social media outreach team) complemented by our Information Technology team.

One of our social media projects—That Jew Died For You—went viral on YouTube.

Today, our largest branch by personnel is in Tel Aviv, where we have opened the Moishe Rosen Center, now serving as a vibrant community and outreach center in the trendy Florentine neighborhood. And since many Israelis have moved to Berlin, Germany, in search of better opportunities, we opened a branch there as well.

Jews for Jesus remains committed to reaching out with the good news of the Messiah to our people worldwide, with a staff and corps of volunteers spanning multiple generations including Boomers and Millennials. Check out the timeline below for a more detailed history.

Timeline

1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

1960s

Late 1960sThe Jesus Movement is in full swing and many Jewish young people are coming to faith in Jesus.
1969Moishe Rosen, veteran missionary, develops broadside-style gospel tracts in New York City.

1970s

Summer, 1970Fellowship of Christian Testimonies to the Jews has Jewish executive, Sid Lawrence, speak. Lawrence tells the mission leaders they are ineffective. Moishe Rosen moves to San Francisco to be part of the Jesus movement to minister to young Jewish believers in Jesus.
1971Jews for Jesus Presentation Group formed (later named the Liberated Wailing Wall).
1972New Jerusalem Players drama team formed.
June, 1972“Jews for Jesus”s” slogan is picked up by the national media. Jews for Jesus film with Les Crane airs on network TV.
August, 1972Moishe Rosen speaks at the Jesus Joy Rally at Madison Square Garden.
January, 1973Volunteers at Jews for Jesus covenant to stay together for eighteen months.
Summer, 1973Liberated Wailing Wall goes on first tour.
September, 1973Jews for Jesus incorporated as Hineni Ministries. Staff consists of a mobile singing group, the executive director and his secretary.
Autumn, 1973First Liberated Wailing Wall album, Hineni, produced.
1974Jews for Jesus book by Moishe Rosen and Bill Proctor published.
June, 1974Jews for Jesus attends Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (LCWE) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Summer, 1974First annual summer witnessing campaign in New York City.
Autumn, 1974Los Angeles branch established.
Autumn, 1974Approved student program instituted.
January, 1975New Jerusalem Players kick off first tour.
January, 1975Move Jews for Jesus Headquarters relocated from Corte Madera to San Rafael, California.
January, 1975First weekly staff report.
Spring, 1975First Israel Witnessing Expedition.
June, 1975Jews for Jesus Council formed.
August, 1975New York branch established.
Autumn, 1975Israelight singing group formed.
Autumn, 1975First Jews for Jesus Ingathering.
1976ISSUES publication founded.
Early 1976Chicago branch established. Boston branch established.
April, 1976First Northern Ireland Witnessing Campaign.
June, 1976First full-page evangelistic ad in secular paper (The New York Times).
Summer, 1977Miami branch established.
February, 1978Jews for Jesus Headquarters relocated to San Francisco.
September, 1978Washington, D.C. outpost established.
September, 1979 – June, 1980Avodah retraining year for missionary staff. All branches temporarily shut down.

1980s

Summer, 1980First Liberated Wailing Wall traveling bus purchased.
August, 1980Branches reopened in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.
August, 1981Toronto branch established. First world tour of the Liberated Wailing Wall.
December, 1981San Francisco branch reestablished.
Spring, 1982Co-Laborer in Messiah program instituted.
Summer, 1982Probe witnessing campaign in England.
December, 1982Yeshua secular media ad campaign initiated on a broad scale.
Summer, 1983Joint London witnessing campaign with other Jewish missions.
September, 1983Boston branch re-opened.
Early 1984New York building purchased. Joint World Tour of New Jerusalem Players and Liberated Wailing Wall.
Summer, 1984Jews for Jesus Summer Olympics Campaign in Los Angeles.
1985Still Not Ashamed documentary film released.
Spring, 1985Mishpochah Message started (now Havurah).
May, 1985First academic study program abroad (Israel ’85).
Summer, 1985Project Nehemiah initiated.
1986Shalom Hospitality House opened.
Summer, 1986Jesus for Jews book published (now titled, Testimonies).
September, 1987Jews for Jesus wins U.S. Supreme Court decision re: broadsiding at LAX in Board of Airport Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles v. Jews for Jesus, Inc.
Summer, 1988Institution of Masters in Jewish Missions program at Fuller Theological Seminary established.
Winter, 1988Washington, D.C. branch established.
April, 1989Willowbank Declaration on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish People adopted.
August, 1989Merger with Hope of Israel of South Africa.
November, 1989Johannesburg, South Africa branch established.
December, 1989First iteration of Project Joshua, trip to Israel for Jewish-believing college students.

1990s

March, 1990Argentina work established.
October, 1990Israel Witnessing Campaign.
November, 1990South Florida branch reopened.
Winter, 1990Dallas chapter established.
Summer, 1991First Camp Gilgal on East and West Coast of U.S.
August, 1991Retraining Week of Missionary Staff Worldwide at Asilomar.
September, 1991Odessa, Ukraine branch established.
January, 1992London branch established.
January, 1992Establishment of Purple Pomegranate Productions.
April, 1992Paris branch established.
August, 1992Thousand Tongues Witnessing Campaign  London and Amsterdam.
September, 1992School of the Prophets Odessa, Ukraine.
January, 1993Moscow branch established.
March, 1993Theological Consultation on Theology and Law.
August, 1993conducted our first street witnessing campaign in Moscow
December, 1993Second Asilomar Missionary Retraining.
December, 1993Liberated Wailing Wall at Urbana.
May, 1994Israel Worker established.
Summer, 1994Paris, Toronto, New York and Moscow witnessing campaigns.
September, 1994Moved into our own facility in Westwood, California.
December, 1994First Project Caleb – Israel Teen Program.
March, 1995Jews for Jesus Website launched.
April, 1995 – June, 1995Liberated Wailing Wall World Tour.
Summer, 1995Paris, Moscow, New York campaigns.
May, 1996David Brickner elected executive director.
Summer, 1996New York, Toronto, London witnessing campaigns.
Spring, 1997Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician published.
Summer, 1997Paris, New York, Moscow witnessing campaigns.
January, 1998Argentina branch closed.
February, 1998Witnessing to Jews published.
Spring, 1998Kharkov branch established.
Spring, 1998Kiev branch established.
April, 1998Multimedia/Video department of Jews for Jesus established.
April, 1998Juden für Jesus/Deutschland established.
June – October 1998Decapolis — ten plus 1 witnessing campaigns conducted throughout Ukraine and Russia.
Autumn, 1998Sydney branch established.
Autumn, 1998Dnepropetrovsk branch established.
Autumn, 1998Messiah’s Shofar music team (Ukraine) evangelizes in Germany.
December, 1998Purchase of residential buildings in New York.
December, 1998Walk With Yeshua, first children’s book, published.
Spring, 1999Jewish Evangelism Seminar video produced.
Spring, 1999Skokie, Illinois property purchased.
May, 1999First Israeli-born staff trained and deployed to Israel.
July, 1999Future Hope published.

2000s

January, 2000David Brickner on Larry King Live.
March, 2000Following Yeshua discipleship manual published.
May, 2000French testimonies booklet published.
June, 2000First Ethiopian staff trained.
July, 2000Not Ashamed by Ruth Tucker published.
July, 2000Amutah (official status) granted to Jews for Jesus in Israel.
September, 2000Essen, Germany branch established.
September, 2000Sam Rotman evangelistic video produced.
November, 2000Street Evangelism Techniques CD-ROM produced.
December, 2000Millennial Convocation held to kick off Behold Your God five-year effort.
April, 2001Survivor Stories video produced.
April, 2001First Behold Your God witnessing campaign in San Francisco.
July, 2001Last Jew of Rotterdam published.
April, 2002Evangelistic CD-ROM “CD-ROM-A-RAMA” produced.
April, 2002Rio de Janeiro branch established.
July, 2002Between Two Fathers published.
September, 2002Boston branch re-opened.
September, 2002First Spanish-language witnessing campaign, Mexico City.
March, 2003For Jews for Jesus” web site launched.
July, 2003Behold Your God CD released
July, 2003Jews for Jesus RealTime (monthly e-letter) launched
January, 2004Behold Your God five-year outreach reaches halfway point.
May, 2004Christ in the Passover DVD/video released.
June, 2004Forbidden Peace DVD/video released.
August, 2005The Messianic Movement: A Field Guide for Evangelical Christians published
August, 2005Montreal outpost established.
May, 2006Thirty new broadsides written for summer witnessing campaign
May, 2006Mass mailing of Yiddish versions of the Jesus film sent to 20,000 Hasidim in New York
May, 2006Days of Moshiach” website launched in Hebrew, English and Yiddish.
May, 2006A Rose from the Ashes published.
June, 2006Christ in the Feast of Tabernacles published.
July, 2006Behold Your God concluded with grand finale in New York/New Jersey: nine simultaneous witnessing campaigns for each significant Jewish community including Russian-speaking Jews, Israelis and Hasidim.
August, 2006Miami outpost established.
August, 2006Phoenix outpost established.
September, 2006Leadership of Israel work transferred to an Israeli-born Jew for Jesus
September 2006JFJ YouTube page launched.
December, 2006First ever phone campaign conducted in the greater Tel Aviv area.
January, 2007Brooklyn branch opens.
January, 2007Indigenous leadership established in Essen, Germany.
February, 2007Jews for Jesus Family Haggadah published.
April, 2007One-week probe street campaign conducted in Tel Aviv.
May–August 2007First Massah (short-term outreach to Israelis in Israel, India and other trekker destinations).
November 2007JFJ Facebook page launched.
May 2008Gush Dan campaign—first Behold Your God Israel evangelistic campaign.
June-August 2008Second Massah outreach.
August 2008MessianicRX website launched.
September-October 2008Upper Galilee Behold Your God Israel campaign.
October 2008Jewish-Gentiles couples website launched.
November 2008The 23rd Psalm for the 21st Century published.
November 2008Jazzed for Jesus: Two Jews Meet Their Messiah booklet published.
2008-2009Twenty-six new broadsides produced.
April-May 2009Shephelah and Lower Galilee Behold Your God Israel campaign.
June-August 2009Third Massah outreach.
August-December 2009Massah mobile outreach (extended time in various countries).
September 2009God, Torah, Messiah: The Messianic Jewish Theology of Dr. Louis Goldberg published.
September-October 2009Jezreel Valley Behold Your God Israel campaign.
October 2009Kosher Joe website launched.
November 2009Praise and Glory: The Songs of Jews for Jesus CD released.
December 2009Jews and the Gospel at the End of History: A Tribute to Moishe Rosen published.

2010s

January 2010Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 5 published.
January 2010Comfortably Jewish published.
March 2010You are Home CD released.
April 2010Boston branch closed.
April 2010The Liberated Wailing Wall final tour.
May-June 2010Sharon Behold Your God Israel campaign.
May 2010Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus, died at age 78.
May 2010Moishe Rosen tribute page established online, including streaming video of memorial service.
June 2010Stories of Jews for Jesus published.
June 2010Blue Mosaic, new mobile evangelistic team, launched.
June-August 2010Fourth Massah outreach.
September 2010Geneva branch established.
January 2011Flowers of the Son DVD released.
March 2011Moishe Rosen Center dedicated in Tel Aviv.
February 2012Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Rosen published.
February 2012Awakening documentary film released on DVD.
September 2013Fortieth anniversary of Jews for Jesus.
April 2014Jews for Jesus survey of Messianic Jews published.
April 2014That Jew Died For You media campaign launched.
December 2014Relocation of UK branch and opening of Jews for Jesus Store in Hendon, a suburb of London.
February 2015Painting Deserts album, by Heartcities released.
June 2015Grand opening of “Multitudes: Gospel of Matthew” art exhibit in San Francisco.
July 2015Multitudes” fine art book, an illustrated Gospel of Matthew published.
July 2015Rio de Janeiro branch closed.
May 2016Berlin branch established.
June 2016He Said Then She Said: Helping Jewish-Gentile Couples Find Spiritual Harmony published.
August 2016Jubilee Campaign in honor of 25th anniversary of the Odessa branch of Jews for Jesus
May 2018Jerusalem Behold Your God Israel campaign.
TodayWe relentlessly pursue God’s plan for the salvation of the Jewish people.