We Had Questions…Oy! So Many Good Answers!
This was the most fun article to put together, because it’s all about YOU! We recognize that not all of our Havurah readers worship at a Messianic congregation, or live so far out in Yennevelt that they don’t have the option. Many in our Messianic family have chosen to worship in local churches and have found a warm welcome there as well as good, spiritual nurturing. We wanted to hear how Jewish believers in the church are building an awareness there of the need for understanding and outreach to our Jewish people.
But no matter where you worship, we also wanted to hear how you are sustaining a sense of Yiddishkeit in your lives. And this was really the fun part! Such creativity! So many Woody Allen movies to watch! So little time! We’ve compiled your input about what you or your church are doing to be sensitive to the needs of the Jewish believers who attend, and also to raise the church’s consciousness and knowledge of its Jewish roots. To that end, here are your suggestions:
- Encourage your church to support Jewish missions. Offer to supply the pastor or missions committee with information on various reputable mission organizations. Encourage the church to bring in a speaker from a Jewish mission.
- Some churches run Bible school programs. One Jewish believer developed and taught Jewish-related classes for this program: Jewish Studies and Evangelism; Israel and the End Times; the Rebirth of Israel and the Middle East; the History of Anti-Semitism and the Church.
- Have a Passover seder. Run cooking classes before Passover on how to cook the seder meal. Involve the church in cooking an entire meal for the seder.
- Put together your own Messianic haggadah or borrow what others have put together. Develop it into a powerpoint presentation.
- Encourage the church to hold a Jewish Evangelism Seminar. Many Jewish missions can provide a day’s worth of teaching for such an event.
- Celebrate the Jewish holidays with your church; show how the dots connect between the Old and New Testaments.
- Those who organize church dinners can be encouraged to hold a no-pork, noshellfish policy if the church has a number of Jewish believers.
- If you’re gifted in that area, offer to bring the teaching at a women’s or men’s church retreat. Speak on the need for Jewish evangelism and for understanding the Jewishness of Christianity.
- Put on a Purim play; ignore Halloween!
- When children from Messianic families are invited to their Jewish friends’ bar/bat mitzvahs, make sure they don’t just attend the party afterwards. Prepare them for what they might see and hear in the synagogue service. Familiarize them (and yourself!) with the liturgy, if possible.
- Schedule an appointment with your pastor and speak frankly with him about your needs as a Jewish believer in the church. Many pastors have never met any Jewish believers before. Suggest that perhaps sometimes he might refer to Yeshua” instead of “Jesus.” Tell him why that would make you more comfortable.
- If there are even a few Jewish believers in your church, host a Friday night Shabbat dinner and chavurah group (run this by the church leadership first). Invite the pastor.
- Have Jewish tracts and other literature available at the church for people to give to their Jewish friends, neighbors and co-workers.
- If you live in a very Jewish area, suggest to the pastor that the church sign outside include Messianic references when appropriate, i.e., at Easter time display the words “Celebrate the Resurrection,” or at Christmas, “Celebrate when God became flesh.”
And what of your own needs for Yiddishkeit? How do you maintain a sense of your Jewishness, and spread it around to others as well?
- Overwhelmingly, most of you answered that attending Messianic conferences, Jews for Jesus Ingatherings, sending your children to Camp Gilgal and other Messianic camp programs or vacation Bible schools, attending holiday services at a Messianic congregation or one held through a local Jewish mission—all these built a sense of Yiddishkeit and shared faith into your lives.
- Volunteer at a Jewish relief mission or nursing home—help serve holiday meals or visit the residents there.
- Listen to klezmer music.
- Watch Yiddish films…learn Yiddish.
- Build a library of children’s books in Hebrew and Yiddish.
- Watch Jewish history-themed movies like Fiddler on the Roof, Masada, Exodus, and The Last Klezmer.
- Listen to the Barry Sisters.
- Join the local Jewish community center’s gym. Participate in the center’s events such as holiday gift sales, Purim parties, Walk for Israel.
- Watch Seinfeld and Woody Allen movies.
- Send your children to the local Jewish community center or synagogue Hebrew school to learn Hebrew…take yourself there, too!
- Enjoy your unsaved Jewish family; ask your mother or grandmother to teach you how to cook her famous mushroom barley soup.
- Read Jewish newspapers and magazines.
- Keep a Jewish home. Eat at Jewish delis.
- Read and study each week’s parsha with your family, your friends, or by yourself.
- And finally, develop your own Jewish traditions and share them with your church. One Jewish believer told us about a beautiful tradition she has begun within her church. Throughout December, families are invited to bring a special candle or candle holder that they burn during the holidays, to help decorate for the church’s Christmas Eve service. This Messianic family brings their oldest hanukkiah, given to them after a beloved grandmother died. From the platform, they’ve been able to share why the hanukkiah is special to them as a Jewish family.
- Mostly, enjoy and share your faith in Yeshua. That is the essence of REAL Yiddishkeit, loving Him and loving your neighbor enough to share the Jewish Messiah with them.
Young Adult Ministry
Melissa Moskowitz has been a part of Jews for Jesus since 1976. She was born and raised in the Bronx and came to believe in Jesus while in college. Throughout her 40 years of service with the ministry, she's had the opportunity to use her giftings in youth and young adult work; in publications; through photography; and for the past 16 years in young adult ministry. Currently living on the west side of Los Angeles (to be closer to her grandson), Melissa maintains a monthly Shabbat fellowship for young adults and other events for the LA young adult community. A new initiative for the LA branch that Melissa is spearheading is ArtShareCollective/LA, a visionary community of Jewish believing artists who desire to use their creativity for the Gospel.