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Conversion to Messianic Judaism 171213a

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Conversion to Messianic Judaism

Conversion to Messianic Judaism

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  • GoalsThe 16th world congress of Jewish Studies assembles once every four years and provides a stage to present new studies and researches in the field of Jewish Studies. It is the largest assembly of its kind, and provides an opportunity for Jewish Studies scholar from around the world to meet and exchange ideas. More than 1000 lecturers from the world's leading research institutes are expected to give lectures and lead discussions during the Congress.
  • All people in the Jewish affinity category describe themselves as Jewish or partially Jewish. But they have not been included among the Jewish population in this report because no one in this group is exclusively Jewish by religion – though a few describe their religion as both Judaism and something else, usually Christianity – and no one in this group was raised Jewish or had a Jewish parent.Dear Dr. Harvey,I’ve consulted with our researchers regarding your questions. As to the first question, we do not have detailed information on those who formally converted to Judaism. We just have too few interviews with people who formally converted to Judaism (because they are a very small share of the Jewish population) to be able to say much about them.As to your second question, our researchers advised not use the results as described to attempt to estimate the number of Messianic Jews in the population. Pew Research did not ask directly about involvement or affiliation with Messianic Judaism, and so we would not use the results of the survey to estimate the size of the Messianic Jewish population.
  • P14 In the U.S., as already noted, against the estimated 5.2-5.3 million core Jews found by the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) in 2001 (Kotler-Berkowitz et al., 2003), highly similar results were found in the same year by the rival American Jewish Identity Survey (AJIS) (Mayer et al., 2002). Still another national study, the Heritage and religious Identification Survey (HArI) yielded an estimate of 6 million Jews (Tobin and Groenman, 2003). An independent estimate of 6.5 million Jews has been suggested based on a compilation of Jewish population surveys and other sources obtained in local Jewish communities (Sheskin and dashefsky, 2010). An even higher estimate, In the United States, the 2001 AJIS estimated the total number of Jews who had been converted to Judaism at 170,000 (Mayer, Kosmin, Keysar, 2003).Jpp1 p 208 we have already noted that the number of non-Jews in the U.S. who have Jewish ancestors approaches 1,500,000, mostly the children of intermarriages
  • . In Israel, the total number of immigrants who were not registered as Jewish was estimated at 312,800 at the beginning of 2010, of which 283,000 were without religious determination, and about 30,000 were Christian.207 - A growing gap is emerging between the large number of non-Jewish individuals falling under the definition of the enlarged Jewish population, and who therefore participate – albeit very marginally – in the cultural and associational life of Jews, and the actual numbers of people being considered for conversion to Judaism by acknowledged authorities. The number being formally admitted to the fold of the Jewish group is even smaller. A growing gap is also emerging between subjective feelings of belonging to a Jewish identification (no matter how specified), and formal Jewish identification categories established within a given population by religious authorities, researchers in demography or sociology, or other observers. Moreover, the many different organizations operating within the broadly defined Jewish community often adopt different criteria to delineate their own target constituencies.In Israel, the total number of immigrants who were not registered as Jewish was estimated at 312,800 at the beginning of 2010, of which 283,000 were without religious determination, and about 30,000 were ChristianThe annual number of conversions approved in Israel (see Table 2 above) never reached 4,000 until 2001, exceeded 6,000 in 2005, and reached an all-time high of 7,881 in 2007. In 2009, according to provisional data, the total number of converts in Israel fell to 1,500. This reflected the steady decrease in the number of immigrants from ethiopia, and high profile disagreement within Israel's rabbinate about conversion policies in general, and even about the validity of conversions already certified by rabbinical Courtsof the 22,700 converts between 2000 and 2004, 60% were from ethiopia, 24% from the FSU, and 16% from other countries, including relatively large contingents from India and Peru. All in all, between 1999 and 2008, 48,098 persons were converted to Judaism in Israel. Most of them were new immigrants from ethiopia who, as noted, undergo conversion in near totality (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 2007).
  • In 2008, the number of students in giyur preparatory courses was 7,823, of which 1,461 were ethiopians, 3,222 were IdF soldiers, and 3,140 civilians from other countries (Figure 39). This clearly indicates that the students do not adequately represent the profile of the whole pool of potential converts who, according to their proportion in Israel's Jewish population, would include a far higher share of candidates from countries other than ethiopia – namely from the FSU.FIGURE 39. STUDENTS IN CONvERSION CLASSES IN ISRAEL, 2008one important aspect of religious conversion is the composition by age and sex of the potential converts. Table 15 provides a detailed breakdown of the so-called “others” who are included in the category “Jews and others,” i.e. the components of the Law of return population who are not recorded as Jews.The matrilineal transmission of Jewish identity according to traditional Halachacontinues to play a central definitional role, even if the alternative of patrilineal transmission is equally followed by other denominations – especially the reform congregations in the U.S.. There is, therefore, a lack of symmetry in the consequences for the future generations of male and female conversions. From the angle of possible reproduction and future identity transmission, the more crucial age-group is women FIGURE 39. STUDENTS IN CONVERSION CLASSES
  • All people in the Jewish affinity category describe themselves as Jewish or partially Jewish. But they have not been included among the Jewish population in this report because no one in this group is exclusively Jewish by religion – though a few describe their religion as both Judaism and something else, usually Christianity – and no one in this group was raised Jewish or had a Jewish parent.Dear Dr. Harvey,I’ve consulted with our researchers regarding your questions. As to the first question, we do not have detailed information on those who formally converted to Judaism. We just have too few interviews with people who formally converted to Judaism (because they are a very small share of the Jewish population) to be able to say much about them.As to your second question, our researchers advised not use the results as described to attempt to estimate the number of Messianic Jews in the population. Pew Research did not ask directly about involvement or affiliation with Messianic Judaism, and so we would not use the results of the survey to estimate the size of the Messianic Jewish population.
  • Dellapergola 211 - The quest for conversion reflects different and complex motives among potential candidates. Some of the main paths toward conversion to Judaism include:• Intellectual curiosity and spiritual needs in a general context of the search for meaning;• Sometimes even an insistent, deep and endogenous affinity to Judaism – perhaps a mystical calling;• Interpersonal relations and the willingness to unify the cultural-religious composition and style of the household following or in the prospect of a marriage among two people born into different religions; and• Socioeconomic needs and a perception that conversion is likely to induce possible advantages.In turn, these motivations are in all likelihood related to the candidates’ personal characteristics, including their demographic profile, psychological makeup, family history, socioeconomic status, and cultural background. But what above all is important and has not enjoyed sufficient attention in public debates and in legal decisions is the fundamental distinction between the status of Jews as a majority in the State of Israel or as a minority in other countries. Minority status – as discussed in the previous chapter – is tightly related to assimilation, secessions and accessions. Normally, members of the minority tend to be attracted into the fold of the majority – usually one or another form of Christian belief in the U.S., more often some form of secular agnosticism in europeand Latin America – although these passages do not necessarily imply the acceptance of the new faith's dogma or intensive activism in the respective organizational network. Consequently, the identificational balance tends to be negative for members of the minority. Yet, the sense of real community in some Jewish congregations is a kind of existential balm for some, and one should not underestimate the drawing power (not necessarily charismatic) of particular communities and rabbis. Hence, the conversions balance – to and from Judaism – is in a sense an unfinished game, whose final result is open to several alternative scenarios.
  • I apologize for being delayed in my response. Overall I found your presentation insightful and accurate. I would only say that the UMJC explicitly does not accept nor recognize MJRC conversions (and the MJRC has stated officially their understanding of this), and that the UMJC still overwhelmingly is opposed to MJ conversion for both theologically and sociological reasons.KirkA Working Definition of Jewish IdentityNOTE: These criteria guide our evaluation of congregations for UMJC membership and are not to be taken as a final statement on Jewish identity. Nothing in this statement is intended to preclude further discussion and action on this issue.Jewish identity is best understood as neither a strictly religious category nor a strictly ethnic category, but as membership in a people. Such a definition seems to underlie Paul’s language in Philippians 3:4-5: “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews…”The primary criterion for defining Jewish identity is Jewish birth. Traditional Judaism recognizes one born of a Jewish mother as Jewish. Based on biblical precedent and reflecting the practice of some elements of the wider Jewish community, we also would consider one born of a Jewish father and a Gentile mother to be Jewish, if he or she identifies as a Jew. Since Jewish identity is not strictly ethnic, however, the discovery of Jewish ancestry beyond ones grandparents does not in itself render one Jewish. One who discovers Jewish ancestry and feels drawn to identify with the Jewish people should be encouraged to learn and grow in awareness and practice. He or she may be an appropriate and active member of a Messianic Jewish congregation, but would not help meet the UMJC minimum requirement of ten Jewish family units. Cases of conversion as well as ambiguous Jewish identity should be brought to the attention of the UMJC interviewers, i.e. the Regional Director and Exec. Representative, and would not help meet membership requirements apart from a ruling by the UMJC Executive Committee. Delegates, July 27, 2010
  • GoalsThe 16th world congress of Jewish Studies assembles once every four years and provides a stage to present new studies and researches in the field of Jewish Studies. It is the largest assembly of its kind, and provides an opportunity for Jewish Studies scholar from around the world to meet and exchange ideas. More than 1000 lecturers from the world's leading research institutes are expected to give lectures and lead discussions during the Congress.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The Conversion of Non-Jews to Messianic Judaism: A Test-Case of Membership and Identity in a New Religious Movement Dr. Richard Harvey, UK www.mmjt.eu richardsharvey@gmail.com
    • 2. Dan Cohn-Sherbok’s paradox “Paradoxically, however, Messianic Judaism has not formulated a process of conversion, and such reluctance has contributed to its isolation from the Jewish community as a whole.”
    • 3. Definition of Terms • Jew – matrilineal and partrilineal descent, or through conversion • Messianic Jew – believer in Yeshua as Messiah • Messianic Judaism – UMJC definition to follow
    • 4. Pew Survey Methodology • Does not use only Halachic or Reform definitions • NET Jew = ‘practice of Jewish religion’ & ‘no religion’
    • 5. “Net Jews” and “Non-Jews” • Pew excludes ‘practice of another religion’ from “Net Jews” but • Includes in survey data • “non-Jews of Jewish background (NJOJB)” and • “non-Jews of Jewish affinity” (NJOJA) Non-Jews of Jewish Affinity (467) 9% Non-Jews of Jewish background (1190) 23% Jews of no religion (689) 14% 5132 completed interviews Jews by Religion (2786) 54%
    • 6. Jews in the Pew (Survey) • USA adult Jewish population estimates between • JBR – 4.2 million • JONR – 1.2 million • Subtotal “JEWS” 5.3 m • PLUS… • NJOJB – 2.5 m (7.8m) • NJOJA – 1.2 m • TOTAL “Possible Jews” • 9 million • Plus children – 11.9 m http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewishpopulation-calculator/
    • 7. Can you be Jewish and believe in Yeshua? • 34% say “yes” • Net figure 34% • All – 55%
    • 8. Conversion to Judaism • 212,000 (4%) NET Jews did not have a Jewish parent • 106,000 (2%) ‘formally converted’ • 54,000 (1%) did not convert (?)
    • 9. DellaPergola’s estimates (2011) • In the United States, the 2001 AJIS estimated 170,000 converts of 5.2m ‘core Jews’ = 3% (Mayer, Kosmin, Keysar, 2003) • Number of non-Jews in the U.S. who have Jewish ancestors approaches 1,500,000, mostly the children of intermarriages.
    • 10. Israeli Giyyur • 312,800 immigrants not registered as Jewish (2010) • 30,000 Christian • Increasing gap between enlarged Jewish community and number of conversions • 1999-2008, 48,098 • 22,700 converts 2000-2004 • 7.881 in 2007 • 1,500 in 2009
    • 11. What is Messianic Judaism? • A Jewish form of Christianity • A Christian form of Judaism • 150,000 (?) worldwide • 300+ Messianic Congregations • Jewish identity, faith and practice in light of Messiah
    • 12. Definition of Messianic Judaism “a movement of Jewish congregations and groups committed to Yeshua the Messiah that embrace the covenantal responsibility of Jewish life and identity rooted in Torah, expressed in tradition, and renewed and applied in the context of the New Covenant.” (UMJC, 2005)
    • 13. What is Messianic Jewish Theology? “Messianic Jewish theology is disciplined reflection about God’s character, will, and works, and about God’s relationship to Israel, the Nations, and all creation, in the light of God’s irrevocable election of Israel to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, and God’s creative, revelatory, and redemptive work in Messiah Yeshua.” (Kinzer 2005:1)
    • 14. Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology • Constructed in dialogue with Judaism and Christianity • Refined in discussion between reflective practitioners engaged with Messianic Judaism • Developed into a new theological tradition • Based on the twin epistemic priorities of the continuing election of the Jewish people and the recognition of Jesus as the risen Messiah and incarnate Son of God. (Harvey 2008: 282)
    • 15. Conversion to Judaism or Messianic Judaism? • Nichol’s reply ‘So, when the hospital attendant asks one of our converts, "what is your religion?" The natural and appropriate answer is, "Judaism”’ • Harvey’s clarification “within a Messianic Jewish frame of reference which assumes, accepts and indeed requires faith in Yeshua as Messiah”
    • 16. Estimated numbers • Israel – 10,000? –Kjaer-Hansen’s 4,785 –Cohen’s estimates • USA – 100,000? –Kosmin’s caveat emptor (20-30,000) • Europe – 25,000?
    • 17. Non-Jews in Messianic Congregations • Rudolph’s 3rd generation • Juster’s ‘new reality’ • Glaser’s ‘growing discussion’ • ‘non-issue’ in Israel?
    • 18. Christians of Jewish Background and Affinity • 70% of NJOJB identify as “Christian” • 64% of NJOJA identify as “Christian” • Total – 1132 of 5,132 respondents • Corresponds to 22% of 8 million • = 1.7m
    • 19. Both Jewish and Christian by Religion • JBOAR (2.4M) – Christian 1.6m – Christian and Jewish 100,000 – Messianic (2%) = 48,000 • JAOAR (1.2) – Christian 800,000 – Christian and Jewish 100,00 – Messianic (3%) – 36,000 • Total 2.6m • Messianics – 84,000 (5%)
    • 20. Discussion within the Messianic Movement • UMJC 1983 decision (90% against, 10% for) • MJRC 2004 conversion process (26 leaders) • Kesher Issue 19/2005 – – – – – – Rich Nichol Michael Wolf Jeffrey Feinberg Kaye Silberling Dan Cohn-Sherbok Douglas Harink
    • 21. Nichol’s proposal • Limited availability • Undergirded by halachic standards • Elevates Messianic Judaism • Grounded in: • Bilateral ecclesiology (Kinzer) • Post-supersessionist theology (Soulen) • Recognizes ongoing role of nations alongside election of Israel (Wyschogrod)
    • 22. Michael Wolf’s response • Contrary to the principles and practice outlined in Scripture • Will be seen as the ultimate deception • Proves extremely divisive, splitting the congregation • God does not change, scripture does not change, we will not change
    • 23. Rudolph’s response • David Rudolph on Shaye Cohen’s understanding of Timothy’s bris (Acts 16:3) • Paul’s halachic prohibtion – and exceptions
    • 24. New Perspective(s) on Paul • E.P. Sanders, J. Dunn, N.T. Wright, W. Campbell • Pharisaic Judaism not ‘legalism’ • Paul continued Torah observance and expected Jewish believers to do so • Justification theory a rereading of Pauline doctrine • Paul’s expectation on the nations • Radical new perspectives – Boyarin, Zetterholm, Eisenb raun, Nanos
    • 25. Kaye Silberling’s ‘stormy sea’ • “It may actually increase the converts’ social anxiety by heightening their sense of marginality vis-à-vis some perceived, monolithic, on tologically Jewish world that is, instead, a social construct and hence intangible and fluid.”
    • 26. Case Studies • Hannah - “not really Christian any more, not Jewish” • Baruch - “moving in a direction towards Judaism without giving up on Jesus” • Chava – “Messianic proselyte at marriage” • Sarah – “conversion for all gentiles”
    • 27. context crisis consequences quest commitment encounter interaction Understanding Religious Conversion – Lewis R. Rambo, 1995
    • 28. context crisis consequences quest commitment encounter interaction
    • 29. Instruction Programs • MJRC - preliminary qualification, applicatio n, sponsorship, educati on, examination and approval, conversion ceremony, educational guidelines, required syllabus, application forms, etc.
    • 30. Daniel Juster’s “Ruth II Commitment” • Life-time commitment • Of a Gentile who has committed themselves • To be part of Messianic movement and of Jewish people • Not a “conversion” • MJM does yet have sufficient halachic authority to oversee conversions
    • 31. Union of British Messianic Synagogues • 1 year conversion program • All Gentiles should convert • Leaders are self-converted non-Jews • “Despite the rhetoric and well-meaning theology, those who are not born Jewish will always feel, sense themselves to be inferior to those born Jewish if this kind of racial divide is maintained”
    • 32. Questionnaire Analysis • 59 responses from 500 surveys sent – 27 USA, –5 France, Brazil, Germany, Holland, – 19 Israel – 8 UK • 6 non-Jews, 3 MJCs • 7 women, 10 emerging leaders
    • 33. Personal views on MJC
    • 34. To what extent are you in favour of MJC?
    • 35. Two Additional Positions • Jewish and Messianic Jewish by adoption without ‘conversion’ • Messianic Jewish by being an Israeli believer
    • 36. Constructing Messianic Jewish Identity
    • 37. Summary and Conclusions • UMJC’s de facto recognition of non-recognised conversions • 95% of Messianic movement does not practice conversion • Social identity theory – Gentiles converting to MJ still seen as non-Jews by nonMJ, but see themselves as Jews. • MJ still defining itself as both a “Judaism” and a “Christianity”
    • 38. The Conversion of Non-Jews to Messianic Judaism: A Test-Case of Membership and Identity in a New Religious Movement Dr. Richard Harvey, UK www.mmjt.eu richardsharvey@gmail.com