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In This Issue

From the Editor – Issue 19

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…

Introduction to the Issue of Gentile Conversion

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…

The Case for Conversion: Welcoming Non-Jews into Messianic Jewish Space

This 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…

A Response to Dr. Nichol’s Case for Conversion

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…

A Conviction Against Conversion

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…

The Case for “Defacto” Conversion: Building Messianic Jewish and Messianic Gentile Households

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,…

The Conversion of Gentiles

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…

The Notion of Conversion in Antiquity and Beyond

Richard 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…

On Messianic Conversion

Several 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…

Celebrating the Gentiles Among You: A Response to Richard Nichol

Richard 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…

Twelve Ethical Interpretations for Matthew 1:1-2

This essay honors a traditional Jewish interpretive style used with the Torah, by imitating it with respect to the New Covenant scriptures. The twelve interpretations illustrate that God’s Word is an inexhaustible source of inspiration and instruction. My fanciful elaborations exalt the giver of the Word, much as the fanciful multiplication of the ten plagues…

Book Review

Book Review: Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo Christianity By Daniel Boyarin

By Daniel Boyarin, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESS ©2004 • PHILADELPHIA , PA Reviewed by Paul L. Saal In recent years many books have been written which bolster the Messianic Jewish claim that Yeshua and his earliest talmidim would have been at home within the normative Jewish culture and practices of their day. Both post-critical studies…