Issue 19 - Summer 2005

Gentile conversion to Messianic Judaism is an area of discussion that provides an opportunity to demonstrate unity in the midst of diversity. The leadership of the UMJC is dedicated to this type of unity. Therefore, the UMJC leadership requested that Kesher devote the current issue to the subject of Gentile conversion from a variety of perspectives. Rabbi Jamie Cohen, the UMJC President, has taken the lead in guiding this discussion on Gentile conversion and provides an introduction in the following pages. This multi-faceted dialogue on conversion takes the form of an essay written by Rabbi Rich Nichol, diverse responses, and two book reviews.

Articles and Book Reviews...
Andrew Sparks K esher is a journal that deals with biblical, theological, and spiritual issues facing the Messianic Jewish movement today. At the same time, Kesher provides a forum for the discussion of challenging issues. Any issue has the potential to divide rather than unify, and to harm rather than heal. As Kesher deals with a wide range of topics, it is important to remember that those things that connect the Messianic movement are much greater...Read More >>

Jamie Cowen Kesher was established by the UMJC to be a journal willing to discuss substantive matters relevant to Messianic Judaism, including issues that are potentially controversial. This edition is primarily devoted to the topic of conversion of Gentiles to Messianic Judaism. In the Fall, 2004, the UMJC Executive Committee learned of a plan developed by the North American Halakic Council, primarily comprised of Messianic Jewish leaders in the Northeast, to convert Gentile members. As a result the Executive Committee issued the...Read More >>

Richard C. NicholThis article is written with my deepest respect to my Messianic Jewish colleagues who, with heart and soul, are seeking to build something beautiful-modern Messianic Judaism. I also hope these thoughts will be a blessing for many in our synagogues who wonder about the many issues raised in this piece.   The passing of time often change a person's perspective. Several years ago I was privileged to be asked to draft a proposal for the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations Theology Committee on the subject of the conversion of Gentiles to...Read More >>

Barney Kasdan Undoubtedly, one of the vital issues facing modern Messianic Judaism has to do with the place of non-Jews who feel called to be part of our congregations. This, of course, is not a surprising issue when one considers that all branches of Judaism are faced with the same question. In the world of all the various branches of rabbinic Judaism, one solution has been universally practiced: a conversion process to enfranchise the non-Jew. My colleague, Dr. Richard Nichol, makes his appeal for...Read More >>

Michael Wolf My response to Richard Nichol’s Case for Conversion pamphlet reflects the views of the Executive Committee of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and the Steering Committee of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues. I am opposed to any conversion process for Gentiles within Messianic Judaism. While recognizing the challenges of identity that Gentiles face in the Messianic Jewish community, I believe that these challenges can be addressed in ways that conform to scripture, and I do not...Read More >>

Jeffrey Feinberg For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of God through this trusting faithfulness; because as many of you were immersed into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one. –(Galatians 3:26-28 CJB) Rabbi Richard Nichol asks us to entertain the thought of converting non-Jews who...Read More >>

John Fischer Messianic Judaism has tended to be future-oriented since its first appearance (or re-emergence) on the stage of modern history. This future orientation has two aspects: generational and eschatological. We are concerned that we not only have Jewish children, but Jewish grandchildren and great grandchildren as well. As we pray daily in the synagogue, “as for me, so also for my descendants,” we want them to live and love their Jewish heritage, traditions, and faith. However, as there is a clear anticipatory dimension...Read More >>

Kay SilberlingRichard Nichol has made strong arguments for why Messianic Judaism should offer conversion to non-Jews. His plea is thoughtful and represents a deep awareness of the theological issues involved. However, his most urgent expressions about the issue arise out of sociological, not theological, concerns. Nichol appeals to a pressing need “to clarify the identities of men and women, boys and girls in our synagogues” (Refer back to page 10). The question of anxiety about social location is indeed an urgent...Read More >>

Dan Cohn-SherbokSeveral years ago I was invited to speak at the international conference of the UMJC where I had the opportunity to meet both Messianic leaders and congregants. The preceding year my book, Messianic Judaism appeared, and I was asked to reflect on ways in which Messianic Judaism might be able to gain greater acceptance in the Jewish community. I stated that I thought it would be helpful if Messianic conversion were introduced; my argument was that the process of conversion is normal...Read More >>

Douglas HarinkRichard Nichol asks Messianic Judaism to take the next important step toward full maturity as a Judaism. He asks that Messianic Judaism create a clearly understood process for Gentiles to convert through Messianic Judaism. His proposal in his crucially important booklet challenges every group involved in this discussion—Messianic Jews, non-Messianic Jews, Gentile Christians—to seriously consider some issues which were once thought to be long resolved, but which, it is clearly need to be carefully re-examined from the roots up.  Three years...Read More >>
Articles and Book Reviews
Jon C. Olson2006-03-30 10:42
This essay honors a traditional Jewish interpretive style used with the...Read More >>
Book Review
Paul L. Saal2006-03-30 10:39
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