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Concerned about deception
4/4/2012 4:15:00 PM
In the early 1980s, my wife and I were invited to a Friday night Shabbat dinner by a couple who lived in Silver Spring.
The couple, both successful in business, were new friends for us. At their home, they kindled Shabbat candles, said Kiddush and the blessing over challah. We were both moved, because at that point in our marriage, we weren't consistently even lighting Shabbat candles.
We had a wonderful meal, and then got into the couple's Cadillac and drove to services in Tysons Corner.
I asked our host three or four times for the name of his shul. He didn't answer or avoided answering my simple question.
When we got to the house of worship, turns out it was a church. That wasn't a red flag, however, because there are many synagogues who rent space in churches. We were introduced to many people including the "rabbi."
The service hadn't even started when my wife elbowed me in the ribs. She put the congregation's prayer book in front of me and told me to read the Shema. In Hebrew included in the words for the Shema, was the name "Yeshua Ha Moshiach" or Jesus the Messiah.
We were in Tysons Corner. We had no way of getting home. Our hosts weren't leaving any time soon. And there we sat as worshippers, some Jewish, some gentile, some even Israeli, walked down to the front of the congregation to accept Jesus as their personal savior.
There was singing going on, a small band playing and the ruach or spirit was pervasive.
The Kiddish said at the congregation had something to do with the "blood" of Christ. The challah was the "body" of Christ.
My wife, who had grown up in a Conservadox family was in tears, mortified that our hosts had not explained that we were going to attend a Hebrew Christian worship service.
We had been deceived and lied to. The couple who had us over for a Friday night Shabbat dinner, had us captive until they finally took us back to their Silver Spring home where our car was parked. It was late by then, but our host handed us each a slip of paper with a paragraph printed on it. There we were, sitting in the backseat of his Coup De Ville on leather seats under a street light and reading:
"God, I know that I have sinned against You and deserve punishment. But I believe Jesus Christ took the punishment I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I receive Your offer of forgiveness and place my trust in You for salvation. I accept Jesus as my personal Savior."
We said simply "no thanks."
In later weeks, if the couple called us, we asked them why they weren't courteous enough to be up front with us.
Their answer was "because you wouldn't have come to our services then." And, "we were trying to give you an opportunity to be saved."
Two weeks ago, we ran an opinion piece with the headline "Israel has a legal case for striking Iran."
The co-authors of the piece wrote that Israel had justification for staging a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. There are plenty of people who would agree with that statement.
So here's the issue.
I received a phone call from a respected rabbi in our community, a spiritual leader who for me is a "go-to" guy on questions in the rough areas of Jewish journalism. He called to scold me in a nice way. Turns out one of the authors of the March 15 opinion piece is a man named Jay Sekulow, who is chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. He was named one of the 90 greatest lawyers of the past 30 years. He's been interviewed by CNN, Fox , all the major networks.
But Sekulow was also named one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America by Time Magazine.
Wait a second, how can a Jew be an evangelical?
Because Sekulow, who born a Jew and raised a Jew, became a Hebrew Christian or Messianic Jew.
So, do we print the word of a Hebrew Christian in a Jewish newspaper? We agree with his words in this case, that Israel needs to be wary and vigilant with Iran.
Ruth Guggenheim, executive director of Jews for Judaism for Baltimore and Washington D.C., says that Sekulow's stance on Israel, no matter how positive, has no place in a Jewish publication.
"Would your paper run an opinion piece from the spokesman of (Iranian president Mahmoud) Achmadinejad calling for the annihilation of the Jewish State," asked Guggenheim. "Hopefully your answer is no. And if that's the case why would you run an opinion piece from a man who is supporting a movement to destroy the essence of the Jewish soul and its connection to God?"
Guggenheim pointed to a recent controversy that happened in Jerusalem. American mega Pastor John Hagee stood on the roof of Yeshiva Aish HaTorah, which over looks the Western Wall and the Al Aksa Mosque,
From his position there he said, ""On planet earth there is no more important piece of real estate than where I'm standing right now...there is no question that this is where the temple of the lord Jesus Christ will be when he rules and reigns the earth from the city of Jerusalem for a thousand years...and every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is lord...".
So, follow up articles give the impression that Aish just didn't know that Hagee, who is a great friend to Israel and its leaders, would use the rooftop of the yeshiva as a platform for a sermon on Jesus.
For Guggenheim, be it a column in the Washington Jewish Week or a sermon from the rooftop, the issue is the same.
"We are not maintaining our boundaries," she said. "We're letting Christians and in this case a Hebrew Christian lead the way."
Guggenheim said that she doesn't even like to recognize the words "Messianic Judaism," because it almost validates the group as a Jewish denomination.
"They believe 100 percent in Christine doctrine," she said. "They believe that Jesus Christ is their lord and savior, born from a virgin birth. They believe in the father, the son and the holy spirit. And for us, it's not that we're afraid of what they're going to say, it's that we're just disgusted. They're not presenting themselves as authentic Christians. Hebrew Christians believe we're living in a prophetic time which will bring Jesus, their messiah back.
"For Jews, our Messiah has not come."
Guggenheim said that while she admired the support given Israel by the group Christians United for Israel, "there are still strings attached. We as Jews are still going to burn in hell unless we accept Jesus as our savior."
Ari Morgenstern, spokesman for Christians United for Israel said, "It is absurd that anyone would take offense to Pastor John Hagee's video-blog overlooking the Temple Mount. Newsflash: Hagee is a Christian preacher.
"In this video Hagee discusses an element of standard Christian theology which he has discussed numerous times in the past," he continued."His comments were directed at his Christian audience in America, and were not heard by the individuals visiting the Kotel below. He chose the location, off the site of the actual Temple Mount, in order to be sensitive to those visiting Judaism's holiest site.
"The first rule adopted by Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is that the proselytization of Jews at any CUFI event is strictly prohibited. This has been acknowledged by CUFI's detractors on the left, and even criticized by those who support organizations like `Jews for Jesus.'
"Perhaps those concerned with the proselytization of Jews should focus their efforts on those actually proselytizing Jews, rather than those Christian Zionists practicing their faith in a respectful manner."
Mr.Sekulow accepted Jesus as his personal savior.
So did our friends from Silver Spring.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
It's hate speech, pure and simple
On the hunt for violent names
Jaimin's D'var Torah
Who's next for nukes?
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