We Are NOT Jews for Jesus!
FAQ: “How Are You Different from Jews for Jesus?”
Firstly, “Jews for Jesus” is the trademark name of an organization based in San Francisco, California. It is a Christian evangelical organization founded in 1973 by a Jewish-born Baptist minister named Moishe Rosen.
Asking a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, “Are you a “Jew for Jesus””? is like asking someone in the photo-copying industry, “Are you a Xerox™?”
Jews for Jesus is simply one organization’s name. “Messianic Judaism” is the nomenclature for an entire world-wide movement of Jewish people not represented by any one organization. There are dozens of organizations within its sphere.
Secondly, Jews for Jesus primarily functions through literature and street-evangelism campaigns conducted either by visiting teams or permanent stations located throughout the United States and the world. Their staff is composed of workers they call missionaries in the classic Christian model of evangelism: missionaries do mission work in a mission field, seeking to convert their target-population to Christianity. Jews for Jesus functions this way, seeking to convert Jewish people to Christianity; Most of the Jewish people whom they meet, they refer to Christian churches for the furtherance of their faith lives.
Messianic Judaism primarily functions as a synagogual movement of Jewish people who believe that faith in Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth as the Messiah should not be expressed in a departure from synagogual Judaism, Jewish life, biblically-sound Jewish religious practice, or Jewish culture (Acts 21:18-25, Jeremiah 31:35-37).
Messianic Jews express their faith in Messianic synagogues, which are New Testament houses of Jewish worship, committed in varying degrees, according to their understanding of New Testament instruction, to the three pillars of Jewish life: 1. circumcision of sons, 2. observance of the Torah, and 3. the customs of our Jewish forefathers (Acts 21:18-25, Jeremiah 31:35-37). Central to “Messianic Jewish”, as compared to “Hebrew Christian”, spiritual practice is the synagogue, and the Jewish cultural identity it upholds.
For a detailed position paper on this point of doctrine see Why Messianic Judaism: A Position Paper by Rabbi Bruce Cohen.
NOTE: This position paper is written by Rabbi Bruce Cohen of Congregation Beth El of Manahattan, a Messianic Jewish Synagogue. He is solely responsible for its content, and does not represent this paper as being the views of any particular organization.