secular jew balancing messianic inlaws - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 12-22-2007, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I could really use some advice and I'm not entirely sure where to go. I do not want to take this to a religious debate as I know this subject is a heated one already but I am really struggling.

I think it prudent to state that I am an atheist (yeah, to add to the confusion). I identify culturally as a Jew. Much of who I am is based on my Jewish culture, my worldview, cultural ethics, etc. etc.... My family is Jewish and we celebrate traditional Jewish holidays with them. Yes, I have my own dicotomy here. My inlaws were Holly rollers by self definition until embracing the messianic religion within the past 5 years. I am struggling with THEIR beliefs and the beliefs of the other families in their fellowship only. I have no idea what other people believe, only what these specific people are stating as their beliefs.

I could really use some advice/sounding boards etc.. We went to Hanukkah party at my inlaws and I am still struggling with this (I thought it was a family gathering but it turned out to be a fellowship party). So... now you know my issue, where I can go to get some advice, share some details w/o offending?
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#2 of 17 Old 12-22-2007, 12:59 AM
 
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You might find what you are looking for at the Religious Tolerance website:

www.religioustolerance.org

They have thousands of pages on various religions and topics, and they try to present all points of view.

They also have a discussion forum.

I'm confused by your terms "Holy Roller" and "Messianic Religion". "Holy Rollers", around here, means charismatic protestant Christians. But from "messianic religion", I get the idea that they are Jewish?

If they invited you to the fellowship party under false pretenses (did they say it would be a family event?!), that was incredibly manipulative. That has little to do with their religion and lots to do with possibly being toxic people.

Ann-Marita. I deleted my usual signature due to, oh, wait, if I say why, that might give too much away. 

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#3 of 17 Old 12-22-2007, 02:48 AM
 
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Wow. I imagine that is tough for you.
Ann-Marita - Messianic Jews are not Jewish people - they are Christians who wanna be Jews sort of. They want to follow the Jewish law, speak Hebrew, celebrate the Jewish holidays and dress and act like Jews even though they are not, yet they are gentiles who still believe in Jesus.
They are often quite evangelical.
Xaloxe you have my sympathy. I was raised in Reform Judaism and was I guess agnostic - definitely questioning and not sure if God existed at all.
I am now a born-again Christian so I understand your position and I sort of understand the position of your in-laws although I really don't understand why gentiles want to be Jews and why they think they need to follow the Jewish law and celebrate the Jewish holidays and speak Hebrew etc.
But, I understand their evangelical view.
The evangelical Christian view can be one of two things.
Some think that everybody who is not Christian will go to hell therefore they must preach the gospel to them so they will be saved and not go to hell.
I don't agree with that in the way that they understand it.
The other view is that everyone who is not a Christian does not know the Lord in the most intimate and wonderful way and we are commissioned to share Him with others in order to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy the Lord and know Him the way that we do.
I do agree with that.
As a Jew, I did not know God. I did not know whether He even existed or not.
I realize that is not the case for all Jewish people, so Jewish mamas please don't be offended. That was just my situation.
As a Christian - one who has Christ living in me - I know that God exists because He lives in me.

Your in-laws, as Messianic Jews, probably feel obligated to share the Lord with you.
They most likely are not doing that to be rude or to imply that there is something wrong with you, but rather because they love you and want to share the most wonderful thing in the world with you.

I don't know them or you or how pushy they may be, but the best way to deal with them may be with sweetness. If you are rude or overly negative, they may push more. But if you nicely thank them for their kindness, but say that you are not interested in that right now perahps they will leave you alone and just pray for you or something.

I don't know if that helps or not, but I can imagine that it would be an uncomfortable position to be in.

I hope that you can find a way to deal with them amicably.
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#4 of 17 Old 12-23-2007, 02:34 AM
 
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Is your dh Jewish?
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#5 of 17 Old 12-24-2007, 09:15 PM
 
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I assume not, since his parents don't seem to be.

That does sound delicate. How to tell them that their version of your comfortable Jewish traditions are freaking you out (please feel free to correct me here, I'm putting words in your mouth a bit, I know)? Tough. I agree with Ann-Marita that if they told you a gathering was a family thing, and you got there and it was really a Messianic meeting, that is just wrong. That's not being honest.

If you feel like they are out to "convert" or "save" you, and this is a theme in your relationship, I would just handle it as any other proselytizing effort. Tell them that you will simply not have contact until they cool it, that religious issues are not up for discussion.

Maybe it is more that they seem to expect that you will be happy to participate in their religion because you are Jewish, and you celebrate the Jewish holidays with your own family while they also consider themselves "Jewish" and believe that their celebrations and religion are Jewish ones.

In either case, I think it's best to let your husband deal with this. Does he see why you are upset/uncomfortable? Does he share their religious views, or is he more in line with your views? He might sympathize with you, but not quite understand what the "big deal" is. Maybe he is just as upset as you are. If you can get him to understand your feelings, he can approach them in the way he feels is best. Maybe an analogy would be appropriate, such as how they would feel if they were invited to a general X-mas party and when they came they found out that it was really a Muslim faith party with a X-mas tree. Okay, I'm reaching, but maybe they can be made to understand how their celebration is not what you are used to having.
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#6 of 17 Old 12-25-2007, 04:18 AM
 
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To the OP, I may be totally off-base about this as far as your personal situation goes, but I know that a lot of Cultural Jews (aka Secular Jews or Atheist Jews) are very strongly connected Jewishly ... and are very sensitive to Jewish history, etc. And are very ticked off at evangelizing/proselytizing from a pure peoplehood standpoint (ie., that evangelizing/proselytizing led to the murder of millions of Jews over the last two millenia), even if they're entirely uninterested in any religious meaning to Judaism at all ...



Is that where you're coming from?



And if it is, does your DH get that?



Jewishness is a religious identification, yeah, but it's also an ethnic identification, a peoplehood and a national identity, and the underhanded tactics of missionaries to tear down Jewish identification have caused a whole lot of Jews to be very deeply suspicious of the motives of "messianic" groups.

I mean, if it wasn't for that, well, who cares what a bunch of folks want to do with their time? If it's not hurting anyone, that is. YKWIM?

But it *has* hurt millions. And the underhandedness/deception continues to hurt many. Which could be where you're coming from ??



I hope it's possible to deal with this that doesn't hurt your kids' relationship with your DH's family. Grandparents are very special to children. You know?





Wishing you luck ...
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#7 of 17 Old 12-25-2007, 10:48 PM
 
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I read a really good book about MJ a few years ago, but can't for the life of me remember the title. It was written by a jewish woman from a reporter/ anthropologist's perspective. She attended a MJ temple for a long time including retreats. I think it had a white cover... does anyone know what book I'm talking about?

I think MJs generally fall into 2 camps... those that see themselves as christian but want to be "biblically observant" and then those who, to some degree, see themselves as jewish and really want to take on jewish trappings/ holidays/ zionism. And then of course there are those who are "really jewish" but who believe in jesus, but they are the minority within the greater body of MJ. I remember the aforementioned book observing that the MJ congregation the author attended was mostly gentile, but only the jewish members were allowed to vote or make decisions for the group, which seemed strange to me.
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#8 of 17 Old 12-26-2007, 01:56 AM
 
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Actually IF one is going to believe in jesus there is a moderate logic to being messianic, since jesus not only was torah observant (overlooking his calculated points of heresy) but he was well versed in and observant of rabbinic tradition (talmud); he argues varying points on the schools of shammai and hillel (on divorce and when one should wash hands before meals), observes chanukah and the water pouring ceremony in sukkot neither of which is found in torah. He also clearly states that not a stroke of torah should be abolished until the end times (and since we're still here, we would have to assume it's still in effect according to his teaching). Not only that but he seems to have extensive knowledge of jewish mysticism (i.e. how he says he will be in the sky "riding the chariot"); terms that are everyday to the average christian like "power," "glory," "authority," "kingdom" all have specific meaning in jewish mysticism. There are innumerable references to jewish mysticism in the gospels that are totally lost to most christians.

Of course saying there is any logic to belief in jesus from a jewish perspective is paradoxical since jesus was heretical in the vein of sabbatai zvi etc.. One of the strangest things about jesus is that he refers to his JEWISH followers using rabbinic termonology reserved for gentile coverts. To be "born again" and a "newborn babe" are talmudic terms to label gentile converts to judaism. He even references himself this way when he says "who is my mother and who are my brothers." This is a specific reference to the erasure of legal family ties upon conversion as is specified in talmud. I can only surmise he saw himself as initiating a new religion which of course would have been and would be heretical from a traditional jewish perspective.
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#9 of 17 Old 12-26-2007, 03:22 AM
 
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My bubbeh told her niece the Christian missionary is p*ss off when the niece began to try and convert bubbeh.

Well, bubbeh was much nicer about it. She told her, "Sally, I am not interested in Jesus. I am very happy with my Jewish faith. If you can't respect that, then please stop visiting me."

I would recommend a similar statement to your in-laws.
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#10 of 17 Old 12-27-2007, 07:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meowee View Post
I read a really good book about MJ a few years ago, but can't for the life of me remember the title. It was written by a jewish woman from a reporter/ anthropologist's perspective. She attended a MJ temple for a long time including retreats. I think it had a white cover... does anyone know what book I'm talking about?

I think MJs generally fall into 2 camps... those that see themselves as christian but want to be "biblically observant" and then those who, to some degree, see themselves as jewish and really want to take on jewish trappings/ holidays/ zionism. And then of course there are those who are "really jewish" but who believe in jesus, but they are the minority within the greater body of MJ. I remember the aforementioned book observing that the MJ congregation the author attended was mostly gentile, but only the jewish members were allowed to vote or make decisions for the group, which seemed strange to me.
I didn't know that. I assumed that most were "really" jewish. Hugs to the OP. I'm a Christian pastor, and I find their behavior offensive. Were your in laws originally Christian or Jewish?

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#11 of 17 Old 12-28-2007, 12:19 AM
 
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Do most people assume that most Messianics are "really" Jewish?
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#12 of 17 Old 12-28-2007, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by thewaggonerfamily View Post
I didn't know that. I assumed that most were "really" jewish. Hugs to the OP. I'm a Christian pastor, and I find their behavior offensive. Were your in laws originally Christian or Jewish?
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Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
Do most people assume that most Messianics are "really" Jewish?
Because Messianic Jews use the word Jews, most people do assume that they are Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
The name is kind of deceptive.
Under that definition, I would be considered a Messianic Jew since I was born and raised Jewish and am now a born-again Christian. But, I am not since I do not practice the MJ religion.
That is not what the Messianic Jewish religion is.
The MJ religion is a Christian religion that consists mainly of gentiles who love and respect the Jewish religion and people and they want to immitate the Jewish religion and yet they believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
I would imagine from what I have learned about it that they are probably at least 80% gentile.
I think because they are mainly gentiles with a few Jewish members who were probably secular Jews in their upbringing, they just do not understand the Jewish mindset.
They wanna be Jews, they dress, talk and act like Jews, they adopt Jewish practices and holidays and they think that makes them Jews.


I don't wish to offend any of the Messianic Mamas on the board.
I think it is wonderful that they love the Jewish people and support Israel.

But, they are a Christian religion, not a Jewish one.
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#13 of 17 Old 12-28-2007, 12:27 PM
 
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I have been thinking about this thread.

I wouldn't assume your MIL was trying to convert you (unles she was handing you pamphlets and telling you convert or brun . . . then I think it is definitely safe to assume). She probably just thinks that you two have something in common now and is thrilled to share that with you. she also may think that having a real Jewish person at her celebration lent her some credibility some how. Misguided but not vicious. not tips on how to handle it but just some thoughts.

as for the MJs its really a mixed bag. there are those who reject the councils and creeds of Christianity as well as the trinity etc and can hardly be considered Christian (depending on you definition of Christianity - mine involves more than wearing a Jesus sticker of some sort). Then there are those who are actually Jewish. Then there are those who are just eccentric Christians with Jewish accessories. I am sure there are all sorts of flavors in between too. those are the three I have personally encountered. but it has been my experiance that they are not a real organized group/denomination and there is a lot of variation amoung what it means to be MJ from congregation to congregation.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#14 of 17 Old 12-28-2007, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by BinahYeteirah View Post
That does sound delicate. How to tell them that their version of your comfortable Jewish traditions are freaking you out (please feel free to correct me here, I'm putting words in your mouth a bit, I know)?
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Originally Posted by merpk View Post
To the OP, I may be totally off-base about this as far as your personal situation goes, but I know that a lot of Cultural Jews (aka Secular Jews or Atheist Jews) are very strongly connected Jewishly ... and are very sensitive to Jewish history, etc. And are very ticked off at evangelizing/proselytizing from a pure peoplehood standpoint (ie., that evangelizing/proselytizing led to the murder of millions of Jews over the last two millenia), even if they're entirely uninterested in any religious meaning to Judaism at all ...
Is that where you're coming from?
Yes, Exactly!! I have issues in general with people co-opting other people's religions, but this I am taking personally. My Jewish identity is strong, even though I don't follow the religious beliefs. I am finding this exceptionally difficult to explain to my DH (as many of you figured) was/is not Jewish. He was raised Pentecostal, which is what his parents were before becoming messianic, but he is a non-theist. I am not sure my in-laws would understand either.

Like some posters mentioned I feel they think my presence lends credibility to them (based on their actions). They have no specific place to worship, or religious leader so they practice in their barn with their friends; their 'fellowship'. They are self taught through books/internet as far as I can tell. My MIL refers to me as her Jewish DIL, and to our two DD's as her Jewish grandchildren. People in her fellowship were aware that I had been to Israel, and even had my Bat Mitzvah there (information I had not offered). To have some type of Jewish connection seems very important as I found myself pulled into conversations around 'who is most Jewish'. It was very bizarre.

While we are not raising our children Jewish/Christian/Atheist etc., we are teaching them about different religions, traditions, to ask questions.... I have no issue with our children observing any holiday, I do have issue with them being told by my in-laws that they (MIL, FIL, and DD's) are Jewish, and so celebrate Hanukkah, light the hanukkiah, play dreidal, eat fried chicken and pray to Jesus and spend the night reading scripture to 'prove' to each other that Jesus was Jewish as well as the Moshiach, and how if he were here he'd be celebrating Hanukkah with us. I don't know what this is, but it isn't Jewish, and it isn't Christian. To call it one or the other is just wrong and incredibly misleading. I do not want my children taught fallacious information about religion! (This is where the conversations get really interesting between DH and I for the record, from a non-believer perspective ).

I have had to correct other people in my husbands’ family on numerous occasions now that Jews do not think Christ is the Messiah. By calling themselves Jews, they are presenting themselves as such. They combine Christian religiosity with Hebrew words and tradition and call it Jewish. I don’t understand it, the Christians in the room ask me what they are saying and all I can say is; “That’s not Jewish”. BinahYeteirah mentioned using an analogy, and that's what I've been doing. I wouldn't say someone who is Christian believes Buddha is the messiah, I wouldn't claim to be Muslim, or any other religion if I didn't follow some of the standard tenants of that belief system.

What am I supposed to think when my in-laws announce to people that I am Jewish (before they meet me) after telling me that the only reason their isn't peace on earth now is because the Jewish people haven't excepted Christ as the Messiah??? Yes, I am going to be immensely uncomfortable surrounded by a fellowship Hanukkah. No, I won't be going back to any other ones, and neither will my daughters.

FTR - while I view much of this as anti-Semitic, I do not believe that is their intention. I think they genuinely want to feel a part of a community, and I hope their intentions are not subversive as I feel them to be. I do need to sit down and discuss with them what their beliefs are, and see if they understand how they can be perceived. But that's going to be difficult. It's a really long story, but over 11 years ago it was agreed that DH and I would not discuss our beliefs around them (and they wouldn't try to convert us). We have respected this but it has come to a point where we (and we both agree) are no longer able to do this 1) because of our children and 2) because there has to be mutual respect, and so far we're the only ones truly respecting the 'agreement'.

Thanks for all of the responses. My ongoing reaction to my in-laws and the most recent Hanukkah gathering we attended has really caused me to do a lot of inner searching. I did not realize how strongly I identify as Jewish. It’s a whole new thread, but I need to find the balance in myself between my cultural identification and religious one. I feel more strongly connected to Jewish tradition now then ever, and this is something DH can’t understand: how is it possible to be a non-theistic Jew? He would never call himself a Christian Non-Theist. In true Jewish fashion there are some very interesting conversations going on over here.
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#15 of 17 Old 12-29-2007, 04:44 PM
 
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... this is something DH can’t understand: how is it possible to be a non-theistic Jew? He would never call himself a Christian Non-Theist. In true Jewish fashion there are some very interesting conversations going on over here.

Because Christianity is a religion ... or a set of connected religions.

Judaism is a religion ... but it is also a nation, a peoplehood, an ethnicity.



For more info on being a nontheist Jew, see here.

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#16 of 17 Old 12-31-2007, 04:20 PM
 
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i think it comes down to that we are a tribe.


a tribe with a common history, common ways of marking meaningful events (marriage, death) and the passage of time.


your inlaws seem to be looking for that connection. Maybe if you could convert them to noahide, they would leave you alone.
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#17 of 17 Old 01-01-2008, 12:20 PM
 
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here is some info abt jewish beleif's re:jesus and messiah

http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/web/by...4J_CMSGW16.pdf

http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/jews-j...sus-index.html


and about the 7 mitzvahs of Noah that Judaism belives that non-jews should adhere to as their spiritual path. (there were other sites i found and i cant say these are better ones, they are just the ones that i picked.)

http://wiki.bnainoah.org/index.php?title=Noahide_Laws

http://www.noahidenations.com/


donmt know if that would help you but if you are involved in discussions with them about judaism and christianity and jews and non-jews, i could see it being useful information. you may already have some of this info since you said it id important to you to educate youyr kids abt religion.
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