WHO ARE WE? WE ARE JEWS !!
We are natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We were raised in Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and even secular Jewish homes. For some of us, we went to Hebrew School, had Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, received Jewish education, learned Torah, etc. Especially in light of the Holocaust, which some of us lost family in, our Jewishness was driven into us, and we were impressed to never forsake it. For some of us, the Jewish community of Memphis is home, where we were raised, while others of us have moved here from different places. We all have different stories, and each of us has different experiences. But at some point in each of our lives, each one of us had a life-changing experience. We discovered the Mashiach (Messiah)! What Good News! We now understand the joy that the disciple Philip shared with Nathaniel when he said,
"We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law,
and about whom the prophets also wrote--
Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." (John 1:45)
For some of us, our families shut us out or were dismayed at our decision to follow Yeshua, and our Jewish community no longer considered us as members. Some of us ended up in churches, and found strength as we learned how to follow Messiah, but something was missing. As we read the New Testament, we saw where Yeshua said,
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20).
The churches were kind, and we grew. But eventually many of us felt that something was missing. Where was the joy of Sabbath, the fresh-baked challah, the singing of Eliyahu haNavi? Who would Bar Mitzvah our children? How could we fit in with traditional Christianity while our longing for Jewish identity went unfulfilled? Traditional Judaism was no longer an option. Yet we did not seem to fit in traditional churches. Our longing for our roots and heritage was a deeply engrained conviction. Where could we go?
For each one of us, the Messianic Jewish synagogue has become that place for us to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, enjoy Jewish space, enjoy the Hebrew language, stand for kaddish, have Jewish weddings and burials, hear the Torah read and shofar blown, sing Adon Olam, celebrate the Jewish holidays, bar mitzvah our children, and to keep our connection to Judaism all while maintaining our Messianic distinctives. In Messianic Judaism, we seek to preserve and proclaim our Jewish heritage and values in light of the person and teachings of Yeshua the Messiah.