Who Is a Jew?

In Beth El’s view as Jewish Scripture addresses the issue, a half-Jew or any other meaningful fraction is a whole Jew — meaning, entitled to self-identify as a Jew.

The most basic answer to the “Who Is A Jew” question divides into two parts, because Jewishness is a nationality, and Judaism is a religious faith — but the word “Jew” can mean an adherent to either or both. So, a Jew in regard to nationality is anyone who can demonstrate any tangible presence of the blood of the Jewish nation in their family heritage, or valid “conversion” to Jewish identity inclusive of national affiliation by either mainstream or Messianic means.

Insofar as Messianic Judaism is concerned, the House of God is a “house of prayer for all nations” as both Testaments affirm: so Jewish identity or conversion is not necessary if choosing a Messianic congregation as one’s spiritual community

  • Jewish identity is not necessary for any aspect of community life, including rising into leadership.
  • A Jew religiously is anyone who chooses Judaism as his/her faith expression, and formally affiliates with it.
  • Non-Jews who feel some degree of calling to Jewish faith life as expressed in Messianic synagogues are welcome in Beth El of Manhattan — and we do our best to help such “People of Calling” across time come to as clear an understanding as possible of the manner in which they are called — ranging from casual attendance all the way to lifelong affiliation as what the Scriptures call “gerim” (permanent residents within the Jewish nation).

We endeavor to foster in Jewish people a consciousness of the sacred stewardship of Jewish identity (Jer. 31:35-37). As the great Conservative Jewish writer A.J. Heschel put it: “For us as Jews there can be no fellowship with God without fellowship with Israel.”