Prayer, not a bad idea, or is it?
Messianic rabbi prays and people are incensed
The article that prompts this blog is here:from NBC News
Being that we live in Australia, and since we have no direct knowledge of the event or the circumstances, we have no official JFJ response to the politicking that is flaring up all over the Twitter world. However, we do have an opinion about Rabbi Loren and about messianic Judaism.
I’ve known Loren Jacobs since 1979, as he and his wife Martha, and my wife Patty and I joined in with Jews for Jesus in a year of learning and training and growing and community development. It was an exceptional time and one which I will always remember. We had daily teaching sessions, workshops on various subjects, and even Friday night Shabbat gatherings. When the Jacobs’ and we moved to New York City in June 1980, we continued to meet on Friday nights. We didn’t meet to convert anyone; we met to be a messianic community.
We played together and prayed together. When the Jacobs family left in 1985 to found Congregation Shema Yisrael in Detroit’s suburbs, we kept up relationships, not for the sake of conversion, but for the sake of community. I have preached at Shema a couple times in the last decade, traveling most recently in February this year to do so. We don’t meet to convert; we meet to be a community, and as a result of our relationships with the Almighty and with one another, yes, some Jewish people as well as some Gentiles, encounter the living God and make that relationship primary in their lives.
I have even met up with the Jacobs’ adult children over the years in Texas and California, and we don’t meet for conversion. We meet because we love one another and grow as a community.
To characterize messianic Judaism as conversionary only, is to demean the essence of our faith. Yeshua is Messiah, yes, and we want everyone to know that and to meet Him. And as a result of our meeting Him, we encounter one another and grow as a community, serving the general community around us, and making the world a better place.
Caricaturing a movement, and a religious one at that, as a singular entity, is in this case demeaning and unhelpful in the general conversation. From what I’ve read, it was Ms Epstein who invited Rabbi Jacobs to the platform. She invited him to pray. And prayers are good, no matter who is praying them. The rally was for a midterm election candidate. The particular prayer situation was prompted by the horrible tragedy of Pittsburgh, and the worst case of killing Jews ever in America. From what I hear, Rabbi Loren prayed for peace and good will to conquer the hatred which that shooting evidenced.
What’s wrong with that?