1 Adar/2 Adar 5774 February 2014
March 15: Purim and Oneg: We will observe Purim (the holiday celebrating the salvation of the Jewish people in the time of Mordecai and Esther), followed by an Oneg. Please bring food to share, especially Hamentashen to compete for the coveted Golden Hamentashen Award. Children are encouraged to dress up in costumes related to the story of Esther.
Passover: April 14 and 15: Shema will host two Passover Seders this year, the first on April 14 and the second on April 15: The Seders will start at 6:00 p.m. and seating for each will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Farmington Hills Manor, 23666 Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills. Tickets are $27 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. You can make a reservation and pay using Paypal on the Shema website, at www.shema.com/passover. Or, you can pay by check. Along with your reservation, please indicate which night or nights you want to attend and how many adults and children for whom you are reserving places. Please include your phone number and email address with your reservation. We will send you a confirmation email or letter. You need to make your reservation by April 7. Please keep in mind that each Seder will last about three hours, so the evening may be unsuitable for young children.
THANKS VERY MUCH!
There’s a running joke among Jewish people that our history and holidays can be summed up this way: “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!” Purim is just such an occasion. It celebrates God’s deliverance of the Jewish people while we were living in Persia (modern-day Iran) in the 5th century BC. Unique among Jewish holidays, Purim is a time of laughter and hilarity, born of redemptive irony. During this holiday we read the Book of Esther and marvel at all the “reversals” that God brought about, foiling the attempt of a wicked descendant of the Amalekites named Haman to orchestrate the annihilation of the Jewish people. Haman wasn’t the first, nor would he be the last, to try to destroy the Jewish people. The Hamans, Herods and Hitlers ignore, to their detriment, God’s promise to Abraham: I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse. To this very hour, the land and people of Israel have enemies who curse us. Others, equally ignorant of the Scriptures, are callously indifferent to the well-being of the Chosen People. Both will find themselves on the wrong side of history when the King of the Jews returns to Planet Earth and establishes His Kingdom in Jerusalem. Then there are those who “get it.” They understand that God has ongoing purposes and good intentions for the Jewish people. They want to be His heart and hands, extending kindness, support and the message of redemption through the Good News. We are grateful that the supporters of Shema are among this last group, and we want to express our thanks for your prayers and your gifts to Congregation Shema Yisrael. And, if you are able, we invite you to come celebrate Purim with us!
AN INTERVIEW FOR THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
“CHUTZPAH: Missionary Church Sends Mass Mailing To Jewish Addresses Offering Free High Holiday Services. Did you get a card in the mail? What do you think?” Various people responded with thoughts about the postcards, Messiah Yeshua and Messianic Judaism. And there is more. In October, I was interviewed by Robin Schwartz, who wrote an article about this outreach forThe Detroit Jewish News. The interview was conducted by email. The article,Praying or Preying?, was published in the December 5, 2012, edition and contained just a quote or two. I am reprinting the entire interview because it illuminates the concerns of the Jewish community and our response to those concerns. Here is the interview:Question: What is the reason behind sending post cards out to Jewish families? I get that it’s an invitation to learn more about your organization – but are you trying to change what people believe? Teach them something new? Save them in some way? What is the idea behind this? As I mentioned … you don’t see synagogues mailing post cards members of local churches asking them to join so I’m wondering why this is a practice or method you use.
Answer: We are most definitely trying to change what people believe, because reality is that most people are ignorant of the truth and believe the wrongs things. Humanity is in a state of deep spiritual darkness. We are confused about the most basic truths – like there is only One God; that the Jewish people are the Chosen People; and that Yeshua, Jesus, is the Messiah of Israel and the one and only Savior of the World. Christians and Messianic Jews believe that there are important spiritual truths that are knowable and that the complete Bible, which includes the Tenach (Old Testament) and the New Testament, accurately reveals those truths. And the Bible tells us that because of the Fall of Man, humanity (including the Jewish people) is alienated from the Creator, far from God, far from the truth that will set us free so that we can be reconciled to God and live forever with Him in His real and eternal Kingdom. If the truth sets us free – and it does – then spiritual ignorance keeps us in a fallen state so that we remain alienated from God and far from eternal life. Human beings are in the most desperate need of “Messianic Salvation” – the help that only the Messiah can provide. Only Yeshua can meet our greatest spiritual needs to be reconciled to God and experience genuine atonement, followed by eternal life.
Question: How exactly does “Jesus make you kosher” as your website says?
Answer: The slogan, “Jesus Made Me Kosher,” is both funny and true. Kosher means “fit” – and primarily refers to food that is fit to eat. The problem is that because of the Fall of Man, human beings are treif (Yiddish for “non-kosher”). But, if we come to God on His terms, we can become fit. We can be acceptable to our Creator. Jewish people and Gentiles become kosher when they understand that God exists; and that He is Three and yet One; and they transfer their loyalties to God the Father, Messiah Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. God then considers them fit – fit to live with Him forever. So, only by knowing that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God, and by becoming loyal to Him and to His Father, can we truly be kosher.
Question: How do you get the names/addresses of the people you send cards to? Do you just pick Jewish sounding names out of some database? How does this work?
Answer: Over the years, we have sent numerous cards and letters to the Jewish Community of Metro Detroit. There are various ways to get the names and addresses of the people we send cards and letters to. Using various resources, we have created our own database of Jewish homes. We have also purchased a list from a company that is able to provide those kinds of lists.
Question: Why is it so important to you that “traditional” Jewish people believe what you do – important enough that you spend money on post cards and mailings and recruitment efforts? Why don’t you send post cards to area Muslims? Or others? Is there something wrong with Jewish people following the traditions they grew up with and are comfortable with? Why do you feel it’s necessary to alter or influence people’s beliefs?
Answer: It’s important that “traditional” Jewish people believe what we do because, like the rest of a fallen world, they are not close to God and are not headed to Heaven, but to Hell. Only by understanding that Jesus is the Messiah whom God sent to rescue humanity, and that Yeshua died to make atonement for us, and then was resurrected so that He overcame death so that He is alive now, and only by transferring our loyalties to Him can traditional Jewish people, and everyone else, get close to God and experience eternal life in the World To Come. And using various methods, we bring this same message to Muslims and to everyone else.
Question: Not sure how to put this so I’ll just come out and say it. Are you trying to be deceptive or “trick” people by using words like, “Rabbi” “Shema” “Yisrael” and “kosher,” etc.? Why not use words like “Jesus” “New Testament” “priest/minister” or “church”?
Answer: No, we are not trying to be deceptive by using Jewish terminology and practices. We are convinced that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah; that the majority of the Jewish people made our worst mistake ever by rejecting Him; and that the minority of Jewish people who do recognize that Yeshua is the Messiah are still Jewish. For too long, elements within the Christian Church and also within the Jewish Community have falsely taught that Jews who believe in Jesus are no longer Jewish. We believe that the exact opposite is true – that Jesus is the Messiah and the King of the Jews and that a Jewish person who comes to that understanding is not only still Jewish, but the best kind of Jewish! We are convinced that believing in Jesus is the most Jewish thing any Jewish person can do; that Messianic Judaism is the most authentic form of Judaism. We believe that, as Jews, we have the right to use Jewish customs and traditions in a way that is meaningful to us and reflects the truth. By using Jewish terms, customs and practices, we are identifying as Jewish people and correcting the misunderstanding that Jews for Jesus are no longer Jewish. And, we love our Jewish people and our Jewish identity and want to continue to identify as Jewish people – Jewish people who follow the King of the Jews. By creating a Jewish community that accepts Jesus as the Messiah and continues to identify as Jewish people, we combat assimilation and provide a community for Messianic Jews to maintain their Jewish identity and pass it on to the following generations.
Question: This is on your website: “To be a congregation which leads others, especially Jewish people, to God and His Messiah Yeshua.” Why ESPECIALLY Jewish people? Also – “To be a congregation which identifies with Israel and the Jewish people worldwide” – How exactly do you identify with Israel and the Jewish people worldwide?
Answer: We are committed to be a community that leads others, especially Jewish people, to God and His Messiah for several reasons. First, there are hundreds of churches in Metro Detroit. There are only a few Jews for Jesus synagogues. So, we are uniquely equipped to reach our Jewish people in a way they can best relate to. Second, we are committed to be a community that leads others, especially Jewish people, to God and His Messiah because the New Testament teaches us that the Good News about the Messiah has a divine priority. It is to go to the Chosen People first. Messianic Jews are in a unique position. We are part of Messiah’s New Covenant Community (the Church, Christianity, made up of Jews and Gentiles) but we are also part of the Jewish Community. We identify as Christians (followers of the Jewish Messiah) but we also identify as Jews. We are 100-percent Christian and 100-percent Jewish at the same time. We use our unique position within Christianity to influence Christians to appreciate the Jewish roots of Christianity and be pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. We identify with Israel and the Jewish people by identifying ourselves as Jews. Most Messianic Jews are Zionists. We are pro-Israel. We see the rebirth of the state of Israel as part of God’s prophetic plan to redeem the world. We identify as Jewish people by raising our children as Jews; by the use of Hebrew and a worship service that is recognizably Jewish; by practicing life-cycle evens like circumcision and bar/bat mitzvahs.
That is the end of the interview. Some observations: I was intentionally blunt and provocative because, unless the shofar is blown clearly and loudly, most people won’t pay attention or understand. Robin’s article ignored most of my statements and only included a few provocative statements. That was expected. We are in the world but no longer of the world. We will be misunderstood. People will think we are crazy. We will be opposed. Controversy is to be expected. But, we should not be afraid of controversy. Controversy can call attention to our message and amplify our efforts. And, God will give us the grace to endure controversy.
Praise the Lord that as individuals, and as a community that belongs to the Son of God, we have the grace and resources to do what God has called us to do! And thank you for supporting us so that we can be faithful to carry on Messiah’s mission of salvation – to the Jewish people first but also to the other peoples of the nations!