Non-Jews Doing Jewish
I grew up on a street in suburban New York that was populated almost exclusively by Jewish families and Catholic families.
I used to think that there was a clear delineation between Jewish things (like Shabbat and studying the weekly Torah portion, Sukkot and getting married under a chuppah) and Christian things (like the New Testament, Christmas trees and Jesus.)
And that’s how it was for most of my life.
Until it wasn’t so simple anymore.
My first indication that I held overly-rigid delineations came in 2003, when I first heard about Christian Zionism. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that anyone but a Jew could be a Zionist. That might seem naïve, but 15 years ago, there wasn’t as much talk about Christian support for Israel as a Homeland for the Jews as I hear today.
Fast-forward to 2014, and I began to shift a lot of different paradigms when I started meeting people, first a small handful, then dozens, now many hundreds, from Christian backgrounds who were interested in many of the things I had always thought belonged to the Jewish people.
I met people who were definitively not Jewish, and not interested in converting to Judaism. Most had grown up in church. Some still attended mainstream churches. Others left their regular churches when their deep interest in living a more “Jewish” lifestyle became too uncomfortable for their pastors.
I was so intrigued by this phenomemon that I published a book Ten From The Nations, to document what was going on out there.
In the initial stages, many of these people, who I call Torah aware non-Jews for lack of more precise terminology, were initially attracted to Jewish things because of their relationship with Jesus. Since Jesus was a Jew, they wanted to learn more about his lifestyle, the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith, and emulate it however possible. In a very real way, their relationship with Jesus lead them to Torah.
For others, the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel after 2,000 years of exile was a game-changer. The miraculous success of Israel is seen as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. For example, in the Book of Isaiah, there is a prophecy of a nation being born in a day, much like what happened on May 14, 1948.
And what was unthinkable 80 years ago, but now happens every day in Israel, was prophesied by Zechariah:
Today, we have the historically unprecedented situation where millions of non-Jews from all over the world, moved by the reality of God turning His attention once again to the long-exiled Jews, or inspired by the Jewish life of the man at the center of their religion, who are fascinated by Jewish ideas and hungry to learn all they can.
This itself is also a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, when the prophet Zechariah said that, at the End of Days, non-Jews will turn to the Jewish people, begging to be taught by us. This has undoubedtly begun.
As I, and my colleagues who work in this delicate area of sharing the wisdom of Judaism with the rest of the world can attest, this phenomenon is so new as to be completely unfamiliar to most Jews.
And it’s an area that is filled with minefields. And not a small amount of confusion, at this preliminary stage of what will eventually become much more commonplace.
Let’s be honest. Political correctness aside, after 2,000 years of trying to protect ourselves from Inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, forced conversions, missionizing and the Holocaust, most Jews don’t want to have anything to do with Christians.
And the idea of Christians appropriating Jewish things, like Shabbat and Torah study, does not sit well with most Jews.
I get that. Truly I do.
At the same time, nearly every day, I hear from people all over the world – from Kenya, from Finland, from Norway, from Nigeria, from China, from Holland, from the Philippines, from Pakistan, from Japan and from all over North America – who are waking up to the persistent call of Torah. And they want to know more.
“Please send me Jewish books!”
“Please come to our country to teach us!”
“Please can you help me understand…”
The prophet Amos said:
That hunger. That thirst. That’s what I believe I am privileged to see every day.
I realize that not every Jew will resonate with this worldwide phenomenon that I believe is connected to the End of Days.
My soul does.
And responding to the worldwide hunger for a better understanding of God’s Word, from a traditional Jewish perspective, has become my major focus over the past few years.
There is much more to say about this topic. It’s a complicated one. But the overall trajectory is clear. The world is waking up to the truth of Torah.
And the Jewish people are the ones God chose to share the wisdom of the Torah with the rest of the world.
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