1. Who is B’rit Hadasha?
B’rit Hadasha is a Messianic Jewish synagogue. B’rit Hadasha literally means “New Covenant.”
2. What is a Messianic Jewish synagogue?
A Messianic Jewish synagogue is a community of Jewish and non-Jewish believers in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) where the expression of that faith and worship is distinctly Jewish.
3. What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a resurrection of the first century expression of faith in Messiah Yeshua. Since the New Covenant was given in a Jewish context, it is best understood in that context. B’rit Hadasha has members from a number of different religious backgrounds in addition to the main branches of Judaism.
4. What exactly is a Messianic Jew?
A Messianic Jew is a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is joined by faith to Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.
5. Does B’rit Hadasha try to make everyone a Jew?
No. Believing that people should remain as they are, we do not practice ritual conversion. However, it is also understood that, given the calling of God upon B’rit Hadasha to a distinctly Jewish expression, those committed to this congregation should have a desire to live out their lives in a manner keeping with that calling.
6. Is it only for Jewish people? Are Gentile believers in the Messiah Yeshua welcome?
B’rit Hadasha is a house of worship for Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. Jewish and Gentile people are equally in need of God’s one provision of atonement in the Messiah Yeshua. In the Messiah, both are equally a part of the Body of Messiah and are beloved of God. All are welcome.
7. Since Jewish and non-Jewish believers are equal before God, why then have a distinctly Jewish-oriented congregation?
Because there is a need for it. It is a historical reality that people assemble with others of like culture, language and tradition. Rather than assimilating into the Gentile-dominated churches the Jewish believer can worship God and practice his Messiah-centered faith in a context that respects Jewish life and tradition. Unlike in the Gentile Church our congregants can bar-mitzvah their children, observe the Jewish life-cycle events and biblical holy days, follow the weekly Torah readings, etc. Maintaining one’s Jewish heritage is a distinct calling not to be cast off when becoming a follower of Yeshua. Messiah does not ask us to stop being male or female, black or white, Jewish or Gentile, etc. The New Covenant refers to Messianic Jews as a “remnant” within Israel who are “chosen by grace” (Rom. 11:5). As such we must maintain that Jewish identity.
8. Why would a non-Jewish believer want to be involved with a Messianic Jewish synagogue?
Gentile followers of Messiah join for various reasons, including: To stand with Israel, to embrace the Jewish roots of the New Covenant, and to show their love for Israel and the Jewish people. Some join because they have a “Ruth calling” in which they feel that God wants them to live as Jews, while some simply find great fulfillment and personal enrichment by observing things such as Sabbath and biblical holidays.
9. Why do you have services on Saturday?
The seventh-day Sabbath was given to Israel as a perpetual observance in the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 31:16-17).
10. What are the worship services like?
Services begin at 10:30 a.m. and usually last until about 1:00 p.m. The first hour or so is given over to announcements, giving, and worship. The worship time is spent in prayer, praise, singing, dance and various traditional liturgical chants and readings. Songs and liturgy are in both Hebrew and English, and are either contained in the siddur (prayerbook) or displayed on an overhead projector. Prophetic words of encouragement or exhortation, if done decently and in order, may also be given by congregants during the service. Then an abbreviated Torah service takes place, with readings and teachings on the weekly portion. The last hour is devoted to teaching and proclamation of Scripture by either the rabbi or others in leadership. Guest speakers are periodically brought in as well. Services often conclude with a song, the Aaronic Benediction, Kaddish, or prayer for individual needs. A meal or light refreshments may also be served following service.
11. What is Oneg Shabbat & Kiddush?
Oneg Shabbat mean “delight of the Sabbath.” At B’rit Hadasha it is a special time of food and fellowship. Visitors are welcome to participate in this “pot-bless” time of meeting new people and being encouraged in your faith by other believers. The food for the Oneg must be kosher (clean) by biblical standards; therefore, pork products, shellfish and anything containing animal fat or lard are not allowed.
12. How is B’rit Hadasha governed?
B’rit Hadasha is governed by its Board of Elders, one of whom is the Congregational Leader. The Congregational Leader, or Rabbi, carries the primary responsibility for teaching and daily ministry needs. The Elders share in responsibility as overseers of the congregation’s finances, general spiritual life, and administrative affairs. The Leadership Board, Budget Committee, office staff, deacons, ministry leaders and others share in carrying out the work of ministry as is delegated to them. In matters affecting the community as a whole, congregational meetings are held (at least twice a year) to give financial reports, current state of affairs, and address any issues as needed. Though this is not a voting congregation, any person is free to present their ideas, concerns, or questions to leadership on a regular basis. B’rit Hadasha is affiliated with both Tikkun International and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. As such, we are accountable to them. For more information regarding the nature of our accountability, please see our By-laws.
13. Apart from the Jewish elements, what are some of the goals and objectives of B’rit Hadasha?
We seek to be a congregational home for both Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua who are called into covenant community with one another, seeking to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven locally, in Israel and to the nations, within the framework of Messianic Judaism (Ephesians 2:11-3:7; Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37; Matthew 26:26-29; Jeremiah 31:31-37; Romans 11:11-36; Acts 21:20; Luke 4:42-44; Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 28:19-20). We also believe in promoting biblical worship, prayer, covenant relationships, and personal holiness.
14. Why do the men wear head-coverings and prayer-shawls?
These are traditional items of Jewish life, history and worship. The shawl is called a “tallit” and the small round cap is called a “kippah” (Hebrew for “covering”) or “yarmulke” (Yiddish for “reverence the king”). All males worshipping with B’rit Hadasha are encouraged to wear one or both of these items, but the conscience of each individual is respected in this matter. Women, likewise, may use or not use appropriate head-coverings as conscience allows.
15. Is B’rit Hadasha a Jewish mission or parachurch ministry like “Jews for Jesus”?
No. Jews for Jesus is an evangelistic organization based in California. Unfortunately, the term “Jews for Jesus” is considered a derogatory term within the Jewish community much like others use the terms “Jesus freak” or “holy roller.” B’rit Hadasha and Messianic Judaism are more like a Messiah-centered branch of Judaism with its own rabbis, centers of learning, materials, congregational confederations, etc.
16. Does B’rit Hadasha practice water baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
Yes. Immersion in water is practiced as a sign of one’s beginning a new life of devotion to Messiah, and the Lord’s Supper is observed periodically usually in context of a meal when possible. Water Baptism (t’villah) has its roots in the Jewish rite of the “mikveh” (ceremonial washing) and the Lord’s Supper (shulchan Adonai) has its roots in the Jewish rite of Passover.
17. What distinctly Jewish elements are incorporated into congregational life and worship?
Just to mention a few: Shabbat observance, kashrut (keeping Mosaic dietary laws), identification with Israel as the Jewish homeland, Jewish liturgical worship, Jewish dance, use of the Hebrew language, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, traditional dress (kippahs and tallits), and observing the Jewish holy days.
18. Do you pass a collection plate?
Money is rarely stressed during services and no “collection plate” is regularly passed. An offering box is located in the back of the sanctuary for the reception of tithes and offerings similar to the days of the Second Temple. Occasionally an offering basket may be passed for special offerings or guest speakers.
19. What is B’rit Hadasha’s attitude toward other congregations or churches?
“There is one Lord, one faith, one immersion” and “one body” (Eph 4:4,5). B’rit Hadasha cooperates with other congregations who share faith in the Messiah Yeshua. We seek to build bridges between churches and the Jewish people, fostering love for Israel, repudiating anti-Semitism, educating churches about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith and being a resource to that end.
20. Other than Shabbat services, what are some of the other services/gatherings that B’rit Hadasha has?
- Corporate prayer gatherings
- Bible studies
- Praise services
- Men’s meetings are held monthly.
- Women’s meetings are held monthly.
- Topical studies
- Hebrew classes
- Special services are held for both Biblical and traditional Jewish holidays, e.g. Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), Rosh HaShanah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), Hannukah (Feast of Dedication) and Purim (Feast of Esther).
- Torah study
- Shabbat School
You may contact the office for the current meeting schedule.
21. What does B’rit Hadasha offer for children?
Following the morning worship, the children attend Shabbat School classes for nursery through high school. Depending on circumstances, teens may stay in service during the message. Nursery is available for children up to four years old.
22. Does B’rit Hadasha offer Bar/Bat Mitzvah for the children?
Yes. Bar and Bat Mitzvah (Son of/Daughter of the Commandment) is available. This ceremony recognizes the time of life when a boy (age 13) or girl (age 12) becomes responsible to follow God and obey the commandments. Children begin to prepare approximately one year prior to their respective birthdays. Training is centered around learning God’s Word as it pertains to a personal relationship with Him through the Messiah Yeshua. Also included is training in Hebrew language, liturgy, and chants for Scripture portions as well as various aspects of Jewish history and tradition.
23. How does one learn the special dances of the Shabbat service?
Davidic worship dance classes are offered periodically. Those wishing to participate should contact the synagogue office.
24. Does B’rit Hadasha offer Hebrew classes?
Yes. Hebrew classes are offered periodically, and Hebrew training is available to anyone who wishes, both children and adults.
25. How does one become a member of B’rit Hadasha?
As detailed in Section 5.2 of our by-laws, membership in the congregation will be granted to any Jewish or non-Jewish person who meets the following:
A. The applicant must profess and acknowledge that Yeshua is his or her personal Savior and that He is indeed the Messiah of Israel.
B. The applicant must be willing to submit him or herself to the Lord, to the Eldership of the Congregation, and to the other members of the Congregation respectively.
C. Each applicant must be willing to support B’rit Hadasha with his or her prayers, tithes and offerings, and other resources as the Lord leads.
D. The applicant must be willing to present him or herself for the believer’s immersion (t’villah) as a sign of obedience to God. (This applies only to new believers or those who have not been scripturally immersed.)
E. The applicant must successfully complete whatever course of instruction as the Eldership may elect to require for membership in the Congregation. A transfer member shall also provide a letter of reference from the leadership of his or her past congregation unless released from this obligation by a specific decision of the Eldership.
F. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age or have a written consent from a parent or guardian and must agree with our Purpose, Vision and Faith Statements (Sections 2.1, 2.2 and 3.1). If the applicant is married but his/her spouse is not joining, that spouse must be in agreement and supportive of the applicant’s decision to join. It is the desire of the Eldership that there be no division within the family. The Congregation shall not discriminate against race, national origin or gender in the acceptance of new members.
26. How long has B’rit Hadasha and Messianic Judaism been around?
For hundreds of years after Messiah came, there were many Jewish Christians, called Nazarenes, but the movement slowly diminished and disappeared. In the late 19th century there again arose a small number of these believers, who were called Hebrew Christians during that era. In the late 1960’s and 70’s the movement exploded, leading to the formation of congregations and institutions. In 1982 the movement reached Memphis, Tennessee and B’rit Hadasha was established.
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