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, founded in the 1970’s by a Jewish-born Baptist minister named Moishe Rosen, z”l. It functions primarily as a Christian church-auxiliary evangelical organization, taking the New Testament message specifically to Jewish people. Christian churches, by and large mystified as to how to reach Jewish people, and feeling utterly stymied for centuries, pay Jews for Jesus out of their church budgets or by individual gifts, to go to the Jewish people on their behalf.
“Two-Testament Judaism” ( or, “Messianic Judaism”) is a non-centralized, spontaneous world-wide movement of Jewish people and supportive others: the individuals, congregations and associations in its sphere have these distinctions:
- Faith is lived in authentic Jewish context: Jewish national identity, synagogue identity, and faith practice are believed to have endemic value, and are commanded by New Testament writ not to be abandoned in favor of a non-Jewish identity (see Acts 21:18-25).
- Jewish perpetuity is actively fomented as an endemic value, not a mere tool for outreach or as a 2nd-tier concern.
- Any activity weakening Jewish identity or perpetuity is avoided.
Dozens of organizations are within the Messianic / Two-Testament Jewish sphere, and no one organization can claim definitively to represent “it” – just as no one denomination of Jewish people or Christian doctrine officially represents all Jews everywhere, or all New Testament faith everywhere.
Jews for Jesus primarily functions through literature and street-evangelism campaigns conducted either by visiting teams or from permanent stations located throughout the United States and the world. It is significant to note that since the 1980’s, in the wake of the outreach success of the indigenous Jewish pattern of practice within the “Messianic Jewish” movement, Jews for Jesus adopted synagogue-planning to some degree into their mode of operation.
JFJ also adopted emphasis of the Hebrew name of the Messiah, יֵשׁוּע Yeshua – rather than his Greek-based name in English, Jesus. JFJ spells Messiah’s name, “Y’shua” – which is linguistically incorrect (placing an apostrophe used in standard transliteration to denote the Hebrew glottal stop vowel “sh’va” (:) where Messiah’s name יֵשׁוּע has the “‘a’ as in aim” sounding “tserey” (..) beneath the Hebrew letter for the starting “y” sound – yod. A Jews for Jesus Regional Director explained to our rabbi years ago, that the Y’shua spelling was conceived by JFJ Founder Moishe Rosen in part as a “marketing tracking device” to differentiate Jews for Jesus impact from that of the rest of the Messianic Jewish movement. Communities using the Y’shua spelling were displaying primarily JFJ influence, whereas the Messianic Jewish world used Yeshua as the standard spelling.