Community, by its very nature, lives in the past, present, and future. Community rests upon an extended narrative that retells its reason for being and the roots of its character. It lives in the present shared life of its members and neighbors. And it prepares to meet the future with integrity and vigor.
In recent decades, however, it has become increasingly difficult for a community to imagine its future because of the escalating rate of change in our world, and the uncertainty that results. The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020–21 (and perhaps beyond) has further escalated that change and uncertainty. But it has also unsettled the status quo in some healthy ways that bode well for the future.
This issue of Kesher seizes this transitional moment to explore “Tomorrow Together,” possibilities for the Messianic Jewish future, drawing upon lessons from the past and present. In the first article of this three-part series, Elliot Klayman discusses “Crisis, Reaction, and Hope: Jewish Adaptations to Past Adversity.” Rabbi Klayman discerns a pattern in the biblical narrative that is reenacted in Jewish communal responses to historical catastrophes and to plagues, including the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–19, to which the Covid pandemic is often compared.
Rich Nichol follows with a look at the present in “Messianic Jewish Synagogues: Coping with Covid.” Dr. Nichol draws on the experience of his home congregation, as well as interviews and surveys among other congregations, to identify lessons from the Covid crisis that hold promise for the future. In the next article, “Thriving, Not Just Surviving: Reconceiving Community for a Better Tomorrow,” Stuart Dauermann outlines promising new models of community life already emerging before the Covid crisis, which hold even greater promise in the aftermath of the crisis.
These three articles together consider past, present, and future to envision a “Tomorrow Together” that holds great promise for the Messianic Jewish community.
The two following articles are equally forward-looking. In the first, “Toward a Messianic Jewish Doctrine of the Atonement,” British scholar and pastor Stephen Burnhope points forward to an understanding of atonement based on God’s covenant relationship with Israel. In the second article, “Reading Jacques Maritain in the Twenty-First Century: Personalism, Aliyah, and the Political Organization of the World,” Dr. Walter Schultz builds upon the thinking of the 20th century Catholic philosopher to imagine a better world in the 21st century.
Our book review section opens with The Holy Spirit before Christianity, by John R. Levison, which our reviewer, Henri Louis Goulet, describes as “arguably the most important and insightful monograph ever written on the origins of what should rightfully be called ‘ruachology,’” or the theology of the Holy Spirit. Reviewer Joseph Culbertson follows with The Nations in the Divine Economy: Paul’s Covenantal Hermeneutics and Participation in Christ, by William S. Campbell, a book exploring Jewish-gentile relations within the community of Messiah. We conclude with At the Foot of the Mountain: Two Views on Torah and the Spirit, by Joshua Lessard and Jennifer Rosner. The review by Adam Millson provides a fitting conclusion to our issue on “Tomorrow Together,” as two younger leaders discuss the role of Torah and the Spirit in shaping the Messianic Jewish future.
Rabbi Russ Resnik