What Happens to the Children of Jews for Jesus?
I have heard a number of rabbis try to answer this question, each according to his own theory, but I have never heard anyone ask this question of one who can answer from experience. I am one of those children born to Jewish parents who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and here is my story:
My parents, like most Jewish Christians I know, took great pride in their heritage and wanted their children to know their Jewish roots as well as them. My bedtime story was usually a Bible story, so my growing knowledge and understanding of my heritage and faith was based on the Scriptures. When we children were old enough to sit still at the table, each dinner was ended with a reading from the Bible. As each of us learned to read, we were allowed to take turns with the great privilege of reading the evening Scripture portion aloud for the family. Then each night, as my parents tucked us in bed, we would close each day with prayer together. My parents taught me that the God of Israel should come first in my life. He was the one I should seek to please. This was the kind of Jew they wanted me to be.
The holidays were a fun time for me. As a child, one of my favorite Bible heroines was Queen Esther, and I especially looked forward to Purim. I would enjoy going to synagogue for celebrations with some of my friends from school and eating hamentashen. Mmmm.…
The holidays were also a time of learning. Besides the historical significance of each celebration, my father would point out the messianic application. For example, Passover was the time to celebrate God’s redemption not only in Egypt but when God sent the Lamb of God, Jesus, to take away the sins of the world. I was able to see clearly the most important facet of my Jewishness through these celebrations: the need for a personal relationship with God. My parents challenged me to desire that relationship first above all else in life.
However, being born in a Jewish Christian home does not automatically make one a Jewish Christian. I had to decide for myself.
Being strong minded, I was not satisfied to accept everything my parents taught me (especially when I started coming into my own and feeling my oats of adolescence). While I highly respected my parents and their faith, I decided to do some searching. I searched out the reality of a God who could care enough to send a personal atoning Messiah.
I was 15 years old when I accepted Jesus as the Messiah, and something happened to me! I had the assurance that my need for atonement was met, and my personal relationship with God had begun. The Bible became more than a bunch of facts; it was a guide, a love-letter and a way of life. I enjoyed reading God’s Word. My Jewishness was no longer an accident of birth but rather a gift from God to embrace and in it, a purpose to be fulfilled. I wanted to identify with my people, the way my parents had really wanted me to.
Yet, they were a little surprised when I told them that one of my deepest hopes was to go to Israel, to be part of my people in that pioneer land, a land I had grown to love through the Scriptures.
I tucked away that dream for then and pursued a career in nursing. Becoming an RN was certainly fulfilling, but my growing urge to learn more about my heritage influenced me to enroll in a Jewish studies program. [here I studied the development of rabbinic law, Jewish history, development of modern Israel, studies in the Pentateuch, the prophets, etc.
Now, with my nursing career established, a nice amount of Jewish education under my belt, you would think my parents would be happy. But being like most any Jewish parents they wanted a different kind of nachas, the kind you find under a canopy.
I met my husband, Loren Jacobs, while attending some of those Jewish studies classes. Like myself, Loren had a tremendous appreciation for his heritage, a love for his people, and a strong identification with his culture. Loren told me that before his faith in Jesus, he did not think about his Jewish roots very often. He even said it just wasn’t meaningful to him. Loren’s family background was strikingly different from my own. I’m sure his parents loved him as much as mine did me, but their idea of a Jewish education was six years in Hebrew school, a splash of a bar mitzvah, and a visit to Israel. They didn’t stress a personal relationship with God, basically because they didn’t know it existed.
Loren was committed to marrying a Jewish girl, but he didn’t bargain for marrying one with a yichus (lineage) like mine. One year later, we were joined under the chuppah.
We’re still just newlyweds, but if we were ever to plan to have children we would both see to it that they were raised with the knowledge, love and respect for their heritage and the God that gave it to them.
Do the children of Jews for Jesus assimilate and lose their Jewish identity? Judge for yourself.