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Update and a few thoughts

May 19, 2015

Dear Daily Minyan readers, I have not posted in quite a bit, chiefly because I was very busy with life and work lately. I will attempt to resume regularly scheduled posts. In the meantime, here are some thoughts that have accumulated.

1. I have started preparations to make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel within a year, G-d willing. Lots of details still need to be worked out. I have also started studying Hebrew in earnest; thankfully, learning a new language is something I have quite a bit of experience with, so I know what it takes to get there – a lot of work. My kids are still very young (and we have one more on the way), so I am also thinking that this would be an opportune time to bring my family to the Land. I do have quite a bit of family already living in Israel, both close and more distant, as well as many family friends, and have visited them in the past a number of times. That said, as someone who had already immigrated from one country to another, I am fully aware of the great difficulties that come with uprooting oneself and starting from scratch. I left USSR for the United States, the land of freedom and prosperity, so then we knew that we would be upgrading our material well-being. Coming to Israel, however, I fully expect our material well-being to be downgraded. However, growing up in the former Soviet Union, I know what it’s like to live with less, much less, so I have no problem with that. More importantly, I know that the spiritual benefits of living in Eretz Yisrael with my family can’t be matched by living anywhere else. P.S. If you are one of my readers who lives in Israel, you are welcome to send me an email about my plans.

2. I have recently contemplated on what’s going on in the messianic blogosphere as of late. Virtually no ethnically Jewish messianics are actively involved online, except a few old folks commenting on blogs written by Gentile messianics. I have also come to realize the following, 1) the number of the halachically Jewish messianics is rapidly dwindling; their population, especially leadership, is aging and is not technically savvy. The older Jewish messianics have not replaced themselves due to wholesale assimilation and intermarriage – they are the last in their families to be Jewish, 2) many if not most of the younger “Jewish messianics”, almost all of the current younger leadership, are not Jewish halachically, since many of them were born to Gentile mothers, 3) the “messianic movement”, in its many expressions, has already become just another Christian “Hebrew roots” denomination. In line with that, it also appears that “mainstream” messianics (e.g. Mark Kinzer) are now taking steps to grow closer to the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant churches, seeking unity and reconciliation with their “brothers in messiah”.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. sarah permalink
    May 19, 2015 2:48 pm

    Mazel tov on making this decision. I hope to retire in a few short years and at that time hope to also be able to make aliyah.

  2. May 19, 2015 3:01 pm

    Sarah, that’s great – it’s our home, after all, where we belong. Unfortunately, I do not see too many American Jews making aliyah in a near future, barring, G-d forbid, something tragic to prompt them, like the events were saw in France. Virtually all mass migrations take place from less affluent to more affluent countries, from instability to stability, and Americans Jews today are assimilated, settled and very comfortable where they (we) are.

  3. May 19, 2015 4:51 pm

    Congratulations on aliyah! I am super excited for you. I will also be doing that in due time. Also, I definitely agree with your points about the Messianic movement; spot on. Keep up the good work!

  4. May 19, 2015 5:01 pm

    Thanks, prosistency, much luck with your plans as well!

  5. KAVI permalink
    May 22, 2015 9:10 pm

    I appreciate your liberality in keeping the Daily Minyan an open forum and hope you will keep the site up and running–


  6. Jim D. permalink
    May 29, 2015 2:51 am

    Hi Gene,

    I’m wondering if you would please elaborate more on how you know that the numbers of Jewish born messianics is rapidly dwindling. This came as a surprise to me. You may very well be right and I’m just not aware of the demographics.

    It seems that J4J has quite a few that are both volunteers as well as paid staff (I’ve even met a few) and they seem prolific and quite active. I haven’t heard Michael Skobac or Tovia Singer saying similar things, either. I read about new missionizing efforts targeted in Israel, too.

    Perhaps it’s because I am relatively new to all this that it seems to me like a growing phenomon rather than diminishing.

    On another subject, I think Israel will need the support of the international diaspora, especially in the US, for decades to come.

  7. May 29, 2015 9:22 am

    Jim… I believe that there’s a great misconception in the Jewish world about the numbers of actual Jews involved in messianic circles and how many new ones are being added. This is caused, in part, by proliferation of so called “messianic congregations”. However, when one looks at the facts on the ground (as I’ve been privy to during my time in the movement), most of the new congregations are in areas with very few Jews and they basically Hebrew Roots churches that are wholly Gentile in makeup.

    When I attended UMJC conferences (when I was still a messianic), I and a friend of mine went around Chabad-style looking for halachic Jews on whom we could strap on a tefillin. Well, we had a real problem. Even thought the conferences were teeming with attendees, actual Jews were very hard to find, especially among the younger crowd (under 40). There were very few! There was a lot of Christian folks who turned out to either not have any Jewish background (they just liked MJ stuff or attended Hebrew Roots or messianic congregations) or who discovered that they may have had some (almost invariably on father’s side).

    It’s common knowledge in MJ circles of the great drop-off in growth of the Jewish congregants since the Jesus Movement in the 70’s and the talk of there not being young leaders to step into the shoes of retiring “rabbis” is common place as well. (Not to mention that the younger leaders tend to not be Jewish halachically having been born to Gentile mothers, not that it matters to messianics).

    “On another subject, I think Israel will need the support of the international diaspora, especially in the US, for decades to come.”

    It’s just not the same as it used to be when Israeli economy was still underdeveloped and population was smaller. These days the Israeli government is actually allocating funds to finance Jewish education and engagement abroad, especially in America! The diaspora, especially in the U.S., is aging and the younger generation of American Jews raised by assimilated parents either do not care about Israel or tend to side with Palestinians.

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