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Y’shua and Yeshua

Hebrew, and actually any language, when transcribed into another language, will not have exact equivalences. An “s” sound in English may be similar to a “samech” in Hebrew, but what do we do with the vowels, like “sh’va” or “patach” in Hebrew, and what do we do with the “j” sound in English which has no such equivalence in Hebrew? So controversy is natural for those involved in migrating languages from one to another. Consider the name of our Savior in English. We make it “Jesus” but there is no “J” in Hebrew. How did that happen? Much too long a tale to spin here, but it’s about the controversy that arose over the spelling of the transliteration, which was from the Hebrew into English. Some spell it “Yeshua” and others “Y’shua”. The difference is the transcribing of the vowel “sh’va.”

In 1982 a moment in history in San Francisco would shape the organization Jews for Jesus for years to come. A vandal used offensive language on the building of our headquarters while no one was nearby. We came to the office that next day to discover both the maligning of the name of our Savior and our own overwhelming sadness at the desecration. Moishe Rosen, founder of the organization, told everyone to come to the main auditorium and after some discussion a long prayer meeting took place. We prayed both for the perpetrator and the wisdom to know how to respond.

As a result, our Yeshua campaign followed. We put his name up everywhere we could.

in the newspapers

on T-shirts

on billboards

Even the Y’shua book and album (later CD) are a direct result of that prayer meeting.

We took the knock of the desecration of the name of our Messiah and made it a name to broadcast.

Moishe wanted to monitor the impact we might have as a result of the Y’shua campaign and chose to use the apostrophe rather than the “e” for the Hebrew vowel “sh’va.” That way, he could see, in media, in articles, in any manner of response, how far our reach actually went. Since we were only nine years old as an organization, that made sense.

And for years we could see that influence in who used the apostrophe and who used the “e.”

But by 2013, that time for monitoring was long past. Now we were known as the contrarians and, rather than use the “e” like almost all the other Messianic folk, we appeared to be resistant. At the same time, we were seeking reconciliation with some Messianic leaders in various groups and the use of an alternate name/spelling seemed an unnecessary hindrance to that cause. So the Council heard this concern and voted to change the spelling from now on to “Yeshua,” the current usage.


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