March 13, 2007
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At first glance, Messianic Judaism may seem like an appealing option for interfaith families. It combines the ritual practices and holidays of the Jewish partner with the religious beliefs of the Christian partner. It would appear to be "the best of both worlds," allowing participants to be Jewish and Christian at the same time.
But despite the temples, the spiritual leaders labeled rabbis, the use of Hebrew and the celebration of Shabbat, Messianic Judaism is not Judaism. By worshipping Christ as a divine figure, Messianic Jews violate a central tenet of Judaism: God is one. More importantly, there is not a single mainstream Jewish movement or organization that accepts Messianic Jews as Jews.
Even though very few interfaith couples become Messianic Jews, we published this issue on The Threat of Messianic Judaism as a way of making our readers aware of the tactics of Messianic missionaries and giving them the knowledge to refute some Messianic claims.
Rabbi Carl Perkins explains why becoming a Messianic Jew is likely to push you further away from the Jewish community, not closer, in What's the Big Deal?
If it looks Jewish, talks Jewish and acts Jewish, it must be Jewish, right? Wrong, says Rabbi Michael Skobac, in Avoiding Spiritual Deception .
A friendly encounter with a pair of missionaries atop the Golan Heights causes Janet Silver Ghent to reflect, in On Revelations and Close Encounters of the Messianic Kind .
The tactics of Messianic missionaries are varied. In Phoenix, Messianic Jews quietly attend Jewish community events and own a Judaica store. In Colorado, they hand out flyers full of fabricated rabbinic quotes to college students. In Germany, they target Russian Jews, who have few personal connections and often know little about the religion of their birth. And in New York, Jews for Jesus set up kiosks at shopping malls.
Gary A. Tobin has no dispute with the numbers from Steven Cohen's study arguing that the Jewish community is divided between the in-married and the intermarried. He just wonders, what's the point?
Arts and Entertainment
Nate Bloom investigates the interfaith connections of the stars of Zodiac, Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr., and also gives props to Ronnie Spector, Phil Spector's "Jewish" ex-wife and founding member of the Ronettes.
Tom Tugend tells the story behind West Bank Story, the winner of an Oscar for best live action short film.
Marc Ballon relates how punk rock was shaped by a bunch of alienated Jews and half-Jews, in his review of The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's: A Secret History of Jewish Punk .
Helene Dunbar looks at a new book that tackles the question, "How should Jews and Christians speak to each other about religion?" in An Academic Dialogue Seeks to Break Down Religious Walls .
What's New on the Blogs
On the IFF Network Blog, we recently wrote about a teddy bear in space and printed a response to More than a Succubus: Confessions of a Shiksa .
On the Weddings Blog, Bryan and Julie explain how they found their rabbi and their minister .
Our next issue will come out a little earlier than usual. Our issue on Passover and Easter will be published on Thursday, March 22.
Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor
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