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July/August 2013 – Judaism and Christianity—Connections and Distinctives


Judaism and Christianity—Connections and Distinctives

By Rabbi Barney Kasdan

It seems that more and more these days that people are appreciating the connection between Judaism and Christianity. It wasn’t always this way and indeed there have been some dark chapters of history between these two great religions. But the positive connections are all around us, if we just take a closer look. This stretches from the Liberty Bell inscribed with a verse from the Torah (Leviticus 25:10) to the structure of the Western law system with its checks and balances. Some insist that the USA is strictly a “Christian nation” but the historical reality is that we are a nation based on “Judeo-Christian” values. This certainly is part of the explanation why the USA has been such a blessed haven for us Jews for so many generations. I believe it also must be factored into the blessing that has clearly been upon our country for over 235 years. It is actually a manifestation of the ancient promise to our forefather Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3).

What is of special interest today is that it is not just one side or the other who is appreciating our inherent connection. It is coming from many Jews and Christians of various denominations. A trip to a local Christian bookstore will reveal new books on “Jewish Roots”, “Our Father Abraham” plus many others. In the Jewish community we have also recently seen books on “Kosher Jesus” and even a “Jewish Annotated New Testament.” So what are some of these newly appreciated connections?

#1:

 

the Hebrew Scriptures. Many are rediscovering the fact that we both share the same Scriptures found in the Tanakh (Torah/Prophets/Writings). OK, so Christians tend to call it the “Old Testament.” Nonetheless, most people realize that it is the exact same Hebrew text that is the source of these holy writings. Even though Christians (and Messianic Jews) include the New Testament, it cannot be overlooked that both Christians and Jews have a huge amount of common scriptural heritage.

#2:

 

the God of Israel. This is obviously a direct result of point #1. Since the revelation to Moses and the forefathers, Jews have held to the description of the oneness of God and His uniqueness as the only God, Creator of all things. The most foundational declaration in the Tanakh is affirmed by Jews three times daily: “Shema Yisrael! The Lord is God, the Lord is One!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). There has certainly been considerable debate between Jews and Christians as to what this means. Sometimes it has sounded almost as if there might be three gods. Whatever one’s interpretation of the Shema might be, it should be noted that Yeshua, in the New Testament, clearly agreed and even called this the greatest commandment for both Jewish and Christians (Mark 12:28-34). Other religions of the world may have good things to say but they vary on the self-revelation of God. Jews and Christians, while dialoguing about the meaning of this, should be in unity about our common belief in the only God.

#3

 

: the Mitzvah of Love.

The Scriptures teach that you can tell a person by the fruit they bear in their lives. For the bulk of the godless world, the fruit is pretty obvious. Just check out the evening news if you want confirmation of this depressing truth! Many times this holds true even for religious groups, especially to the radicals among them. Some religions and philosophies just seem to have a bad root. Judaism and Christianity are not without their historical controversies. But these tragic actions were not a direct result of the root of the tree but of people actually straying from the clear teachings of Scripture. To the Jewish imperative to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to love others (Leviticus 19:18), Christians should give a hearty “amen!” In fact, a rabbi (Shaul/Paul) who wrote much of the New Testament put it this way: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the Torah” (Romans 13:10). Yes, there have been moral failings. But it is not coincidental that many times it has been both Jews and Christians standing up for social justice, building hospitals and helping the downtrodden. When properly understood, it has been another one of our common connections.

So clearly there are many good connections between Judaism and Christianity. Likewise, there are some obvious distinctives to each religion.

#1:

 

Differing Cultures.

To see some of the differences, just follow a Jewish friend for a week. Then follow a Christian friend. One has to keep a healthy sense of humor when it comes to the “holiday season.” Will it be a Christmas tree or a Hanukkah menorah…or both? Will it be matzah at a Seder or a ham dinner at Easter? Will you be mowing the lawn on Saturday or Sunday? Of course these are generalizations but the distinctive cultures hold true for the bulk of society. While some people get upset with the differences, many are coming to appreciate a positive point even here. After all, God has created so many diverse tribes and tongues. Maybe we should appreciate the diversity while holding to our own convictions. Jews and Christians have so much to learn from each other if we will just look a little beyond our own world

view. We need not compromise our own beliefs in order to have a constructive dialogue with those who differ from us.

#2:

 

Oh yeah…that Messiah Issue.

It is not surprising that most Christians and Jews agree on one other foundational issue: that we disagree on the identity of Yeshua of Nazareth. Who was this one who came from Galilee? Was he just a zealous Jewish reformer or was he more? Was he a great rabbi or was he (as he claimed) the Mashiach, sent from the God of Israel? Both Jews and Christians believe in the concept of a coming Messiah to establish God’s order on earth. In fact, the Christians got that belief directly from the Jews! So despite some rather apparent cultural differences, the watershed difference is about the identity of the true Messiah. Is it Yeshua or do we keep looking for someone else?

It is here that we Messianic Jews can be helpful. Most of our Jewish people are not interested in converting to a different religion or a different culture. In fact, most are vehemently opposed to such ideas. But what if there is a Jewish way to follow Yeshua? What if we can believe in him within our Jewish heritage? What if we can even have houses of worship called “messianic synagogues” where we (and our children) can continue in our God-given tradition?

It is true that there are some important differences between Judaism and Christianity. But there are also many strong connections that cannot be broken. Maybe all of us can be a bridge of greater understanding and appreciation between these two groups, even as we prepare for the return of the Mashiach.

Upcoming Events

July 12, Friday, 5pm- Sunset. Shabbat at the Shores.

Join us for this great sunset service at La Jolla Shores on the grassy area by the main lifeguard tower. Bring your dinner, a chair or blanket as we celebrate Shabbat together at this beautiful location. Bring your surfboard for a 4pm surf session with the Rabbi at the checkered flag!

July 13, Saturday, 1pm. Mid-Year Congregational Meeting.

We will be electing our new Board of Directors at this Oneg Luncheon hosted by our Youth Group. KA members please make this a priority.

July 25-28: UMJC International Conference in LA.

Join hundreds of messianic believers from all over the globe at this unique gathering! Worship services, Shabbat, teaching workshops and wonderful fellowship with this international

crowd. Special concerts from a variety on messianic artists including Lev Shelo, Roman and Alaina as well as Misha Goetz. At Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills (LA valley). Make your reservations and more details at umjc.org. Don’t miss this local event!

Special Note: There will be no services at KA on Shabbat, July 27 but come up to the free service at the conference. All other classes and events require registration.

August 25, Sunday, 11am-5pm. SD Messianic Community Picnic.

We will have our annual get-together with Tree of Life Congregation and other Jewish organizations for a time of food, fellowship and games. Meeting at De Anza Cove on Mission Bay. Bring your picnic lunch, chair and your family for this fun event.

September 4-5, Weds-Thurs. Rosh Hashana

services begin the High Holy Days (early this year). Wednesday 8:00pm; Thursday 10:30am, Tashlich at La Jolla Shores on Thursday 4:00pm. All services are free but you must call our office for reservations. Save the dates and invite a Jewish friend to these inspirational services!

Weekly Services

Shabbat Morning Services

: at 3219 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., in Clairemont, Saturday, 10:30am. Join us for this uplifting time of worship, fellowship and study. Our current sermon series is “Foundations of Messianic Judaism” which is an in-depth study of our beliefs based on the Tenakh and New Covenant.

Children Shabbat School

: Our children join us for the first part of the service, then break for different classes. Classes for ages 4 through High School which include a Bible lesson plus background on Jewish studies and Hebrew.

Dance Ministry

: Dance Review Workshop is held every Shabbat, 9:30-10:25am in the upstairs Dance Room. All welcome to learn the dances for that day’s service!

Tuesday Minyan and Messianic Jewish Institute of San Diego

: Corporate prayer from 6:30-7:00 as we lift up Israel and the needs of our synagogue. Class from 7:00-8:30pm.

“Genesis–A Messianic Perspective”

. This 9-week course will take an in depth look at this foundational scroll and what it means to us today. $60 per student. Call our office for further information. Summer break from July 23 – August 31.

“The Core” Tuesday Youth Group:

Join this great group of teens for a fun time of games, nerf wars, etc. at 6:30pm then a youth oriented Bible study from 7:00-8:30pm. Connect with other messianic youth!

“A Taste of Torah” Classes

: Saturday 9:00-10:00am. This survey of the Torah class will take you through the Parsha in one year. Currently in Bemidbar/Numbers. A great way to learn the foundations of our faith! There is also a Spanish Torah Study at this same time. Contact Gabe Pacheco or Luciano Rivera for info.

Men’s Club:

All men are invited to this Monday evening group (2nd and 4th at KA) for connecting, dialogue and encouragement on vital issues that we deal with today. Always some good discussion and study along with service projects for men to be involved with. Also a group meets every Wednesday 5am. Contact Frank Rosas or Rome Remigio for more information.

Sisterhood:

This dynamic group of women meets monthly for study, friendship and service projects. Call the KA office for the latest info on the next luncheon and meeting. All women and daughters are welcome!

Messiah TV:

Check out our TV outreach program as we share Mashiach and the Jewish background of the New Covenant faith in Yeshua. Seen cross-country! Check your local cable listings and spread the word.

KA Leadership

KA Zekeynim/Elders Board of Directors

Barney Kasdan, Rome Remigio, Frank Rosas Bob Haas, Luis Garabay, Patty Kolb, Tovik Liberman, Ron Wallace

Shamashim/Servants

Deborah Remigio

Luis Garibay Paty Garibay

Eric Kragenbrink Joanne Kragenbrink

Joan Savarese Tony Savarese

Jeannie Stinton Michael Stinton

Tovik Liberman Colleen Liberman

Ron Wallace Rene Wallace

Committee Coordinators

Audio: Gabe Pacheco CD Duplication: Luis Garibay

Dance: Sue Rubin Facilities: Jim Scarborough

International: Eddie & Yrena Niewald Music: Eric & Joanne Kragenbrink

Office: Jan Folb Oneg: Maria Montelongo

Prayer: Patty Kolb Resource Center: Alice Hoover

Singles: Bob and Jeannette Haas Social Action: Eric Tauber

Translation: Paty Garibay TV Outreach: Lety Levy

Ushers: Tony Savavese Website: Rome Remigio

Youth/Education: Michael & Jeannie Stinton

Havurot/Small Groups

(connect with the community!)

Del Cerro

, Tony & Joan Savarese, 2nd & 4th Fri, 6:30 pm. Cover dish.

UTC/La Jolla

, Tovik & Colleen Liberman, 2nd & 4th Weds. 7:00 pm.

Carlsbad

, Eddie & Yrena Niewald, 2nd & 4th Thurs. 7:00 pm.

Bay Park

, Mike and Sylvia Ferson, every Thurs. 10 am.

Oceanside,

Frank and Marianne Rosas, every Fri, 6:30 pm. Shabbat dinner.

Yachad (Singles Fellowship)

, Bob & Jeannette Haas, Various events planned.

Espanol

, Luciano & Lucia Rivera, every Weds, 6pm.

Tijuana

, Yisrael and Aviva Vazquez, 1st, 2nd & 3rd Thurs plus last Friday 7pm.

Sisterhood

, monthly meeting.

Carlsbad (women)

, every Tuesday, 10am.

Men’s Club

, Rome Remigio every Wed, 5:00 am or 2nd and 4th Mondays at KA 7pm.

Hiking Havurah

, Gabe Pacheco, 7am every Sunday at Cowles Mountain in SD.

Contact the KA office for more details and contact information.

Donate

If you would like to send a special love gift donation for our work within the Jewish community, you can donate online at kehilatariel.org or send a check to:

Kehilat Ariel

P.O. Box 178755

San Diego, CA 92177

Thank you! And may God return a special blessing to you as you bless our people! (Genesis 12:3)

Nu? News

is published bi-monthly by Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue. We welcome your testimonies, poems, humor (no kvetches) or any creative submissions. Please email ka@kehilatariel.org

Nu? News

Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue Newsletter

Volume 29, Number 5           May/June 2013              Sivan/Tamuz  5773

 

**Shavuot Service, May 14

**KA Israel Study and Humanitarian Trip, June 23-July 4

**UMJC International Conference in LA, July 25-28

 

Why Be Part of a Messianic Synagogue?

by Rabbi Barney Kasdan

We live in a day of amazing religious diversity and options. Many are drawn to varying alternatives from the eastern and metaphysical traditions. In the Judeo-Christian world, there are a plethora of options of both churches and synagogues. While many would claim a personal, spiritual faith today, it often does not translate into involvement in any religious community. With this almost unending array of choices, why would a person (Jew or non-Jew) choose to affiliate with a messianic synagogue? In our 32 years of existence at Kehilat Ariel, I have seen some compelling reasons.

First, a messianic synagogue enables a Jewish person to continue in their rich heritage even while they embrace Yeshua as Messiah. This may seem obvious to some but, frankly, it has not always been the case in history. More often than not, if a Jewish person wanted to believe in Yeshua they were pressured to give up their identity and assimilate into the Gentile forms of Christianity. While we affirm the vital place of the church, it is very difficult in practical terms for a Jew to retain their biblical identity. Messianic synagogues provide a community for Jewish believers to continue with our holy days and culture. It has been one of the greatest ironies of history that many times when a Jew professed belief in their Jewish Messiah that they were then asked to change their culture! If Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, then we would expect him to be the final piece of the puzzle for our faith, not to take us away from it. In his own words, Yeshua said he came not to abolish the Torah and the Prophets, but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17). The life of his earliest believers (all Jews) also testifies that this is how they understood the teaching of Yeshua. Decades after his resurrection, it is recorded that there were many thousands of Messianic Jews in Jerusalem and that they were all zealous for the Torah (Acts 21:20). Saul/Paul who is often misunderstood on this point, even exhorts the Jewish believers in Yeshua to continue in their God-given calling and not become “uncircumcised” (I Corinthians 7:17-18). Most contemporary Jewish believers appreciate their heritage and know that they should live it somehow. The messianic synagogue is the most logical solution. It offers the Jewish believer a place to not only talk about their heritage but to live it out in practical terms. Instead of just reminiscing about by-gone days of our bar mitzvah, we can continue to grow in our faith within the blessing of our Jewish heritage. It also provides a natural place for non-Jewish followers of Yeshua to learn about their roots and even to apply it to their everyday life.

Not only that, but the messianic synagogue provides the most viable answer for the kids of Messianic Jews. Understandably, the average church does not provide a Hebrew School, bar mitzvah training or High Holy Days. Yet the average synagogue, while strong on Jewish heritage, does not incorporate Yeshua as the cornerstone of our faith. Only in the messianic synagogue can we have the best of both worlds; both of which are important in the eyes of G-d. Messianic Jewish kids will more naturally be able to integrate their heritage with their faith in Messiah without neglecting either.

A final reason to be part of a Messianic synagogue?   You are needed!   An important Jewish value over the generations has been “community.”  It is difficult to live a Jewish lifestyle or be a follower of Yeshua in our own secluded world.  We may have “faith” but we can actually be in disobedience to the One in whom we have that faith.  The Jewish believers in the first century were exhorted “not to forsake the assembling together, as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25).  These are challenging times and the messianic community is here to offer support, guidance and deep friendships.  The simple reality is that we all need that kind of mutual encouragement today….and we are also needed to help bring such encouragement!  For Jewish believers, inter-married families and non-Jewish members, the messianic synagogue provides a wonderful spiritual home.  Are you fulfilling your calling in Messiah?

 

Upcoming Events

May 14, Tuesday, 7:30pm.  KA Shavuot Service.  Come out for this joyous celebration of the giving of the Torah plus the giving of the Ruach/Holy Spirit.  There will be lots of music and dance as well as important liturgy for the holy day.  All this followed by our Mt. Sinai Cheesecake Social to celebrate the “milk of the Word.”  Invite a friend!

May 19, Sunday, 10am-6pm.  KA @ Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance.   (sold out!)  A group of 40 will be visiting this world-famous museum in West LA. With our tour guide Dvora Kasdan (rabbi’s daughter).  We will also enjoy the Jewish shops in the area and dinner at a deli.

June 8, Saturday, 7:30pm.  Special Concert with Maurice Sklar.  This world-class violinist has traveled the world sharing his special music and testimony as a Messianic Jew.  Free event.  Love offering received.   Invite a Jewish friend who loves music!

June 14, Friday, 5pm- Sunset.  Shabbat at the Shores.  Welcome in the summer season with this great sunset service at La Jolla Shores on the grassy area by the main lifeguard tower.  Bring your dinner, a chair or blanket as we celebrate Shabbat together at this beautiful location.  Bring your surfboard for a 4pm surf session with the Rabbi at the checkered flag!

TBA, KA Music and Dance Teams at SD County Fair.  Zemer Yeshua and Nagila B’ariel will give a special program in this open air concert.  Bring the family and invite your friends to this great outreach event!

June 23-July 5:  KA Israel Study and Humanitarian Trip.  Join us for our next mission to Israel led by Rabbi Kasdan.  8-day study tour followed by a 3-day Mitzvah Project of renovating a bomb shelter at an Israeli apartment complex.  This is part of a larger trip with our denomination (Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, UMJC) including many other believers from around the world.  2 spots left for the unique trip!   More info at umjc.org or talk to Rabbi Kasdan.   This year in Jerusalem!

July 25-28:  UMJC International Conference in LA.  Join hundreds of messianic believers from all over the globe at this unique gathering!   Worship services, Shabbat, teaching workshops and wonderful fellowship with this international crowd.  Special concerts from a variety on messianic artists including Lev Shelo, Roman and Alaina as well as Misha Goetz.  At Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills (LA valley).  Make your reservations and more details at umjc.org.   Don’t miss this local event!

 

Weekly Services

Shabbat Morning Services: at 3219 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., in Clairemont, Saturday, 10:30am. Join us for this uplifting time of worship, fellowship and study. Our current sermon series is “Foundations of Messianic Judaism” which is an in-depth study of our beliefs based on the Tenakh and New Covenant.

Children Shabbat School: Our children join us for the first part of the service, then break for different classes. Classes for ages 4 through High School which include a Bible lesson plus background on Jewish studies and Hebrew.

Dance Ministry: Dance Review Workshop is held every Shabbat, 9:30-10:25am in the upstairs Dance Room. All welcome to learn the dances for that day’s service!

Tuesday Minyan and Messianic Jewish Institute of San Diego:   Corporate prayer from 6:30-7:00 as we lift up Israel and the needs of our synagogue. Class from 7:00-8:30pm. 

“Genesis–A Messianic Perspective”.   This 9-week course will take an in depth look at this foundational scroll and what it means to us today.  $60 per student.  Call our office for further information.

“A Taste of Torah” Classes: Saturday 9:00-10:00am. This survey of the Torah class will take you through the Parsha in one year. Currently in Vayikra/Leviticus.   A great way to learn the foundations of our faith!  There is also a Spanish Torah Study at this same time.  Contact Gabe Pacheco or Luciano Rivera for info.

Men’s Club:  All men are invited to this Monday evening group (2nd and 4th at KA) for connecting, dialogue and encouragement on vital issues that we deal with today.  Always some good discussion and study along with service projects for men to be involved with.   Also a group meets every Wednesday 5am.  Contact Frank Rosas or Rome Remigio for more information.

Sisterhood: This dynamic group of women meets monthly for study, friendship and service projects.   Call the KA office for the latest info on the next luncheon and meeting.  All women and daughters are welcome!

Messiah TV:  Check out our TV outreach program as we share Mashiach and the Jewish background of the New Covenant faith in Yeshua.   Seen cross-country!  Check your local cable listings and spread the word.

 

KA Leadership

 

KA Zekeynim/Elders                                                          Board of Directors

Barney Kasdan, Rome Remigio, Frank Rosas                Luis Garabay, Patty Kolb, Tovik Liberman, Bob Haas, Ron Wallace

Shamashim/Servants

Luis Garibay                                                                        Paty Garibay

Eric Kragenbrink                                                                 Joanne Kragenbrink

Deborah Remigio

Joan Savarese                                                                     Tony Savarese

Jeannie Stinton                                                                  Michael Stinton

Tovik Liberman                                                                  Colleen Liberman

Ron Wallace                                                                       Rene Wallace

Committee Coordinators

Audio: Gabe Pacheco                                                      CD Duplication: Luis Garibay

Dance: Sue Rubin                                                             Facilities: Jim Scarborough

International: Eddie & Yrena Niewald                         Music: Eric & Joanne Kragenbrink

Office: Jan Folb                                                                 Oneg: Maria Montelongo

Prayer: Patty Kolb                                                            Resource Center: Alice Hoover

Singles: Bob and Jeannette Haas                                  Social Action: Eric Tauber

Translation: Paty Garibay                                               TV Outreach:  Lety Levy

Ushers: Tony Savavese                                                   Website: Rome Remigio

Youth/Education: Michael & Jeannie Stinton

Havurot/Small Groups (connect with the community!)

Del Cerro, Tony & Joan Savarese, 2nd & 4th Fri, 6:30 pm. Cover dish.

UTC/La Jolla, Tovik & Colleen Liberman, 2nd & 4th  Weds. 7:00 pm.

Carlsbad, Eddie & Yrena Niewald, 2nd & 4th Thurs. 7:00 pm.

Bay Park, Mike and Sylvia Ferson, every Thurs. 10 am.

Oceanside, Frank and Marianne Rosas, every Fri, 6:30 pm.  Shabbat dinner.

Yachad (Singles Fellowship), Bob & Jeannette Haas,   Various events planned.

Espanol, Luciano & Lucia Rivera,  every Weds, 6pm.                                                        

Tijuana, Yisrael and Aviva Vazquez,  1st, 2nd & 3rd Thurs plus last Friday 7pm.

Sisterhood, monthly meeting.

Carlsbad (women), every Tuesday, 10am.

Men’s Club, Rome Remigio every Wed, 5:00 am or 2nd and 4th Mondays at KA 7pm.

(NEW) Hiking Havurah, Gabe Pacheco, 7am every Sunday at Cowles Mountain in SD.

 

Contact the KA office for more details and contact information.

 

Donate

If you would like to send a special love gift donation for our work within the Jewish community, you can donate online at kehilatariel.org or send a check to:

Kehilat Ariel

P.O. Box 178755

San Diego, CA 92177

Thank you! And may God return a special blessing to you as you bless our people! (Genesis 12:3)

Nu? News is published bi-monthly by Kehilat Ariel Messianic Synagogue. We welcome your testimonies, poems, humor (no kvetches) or any creative submissions. Please email ka@kehilatariel.org