16 December 1911 Birth of Susanne Eycke, Hospital Chaplain and Holocaust survivor

Susanne Eycke * December 16, 1911 in Brieg / Lower Silesia, † November 8, 1996 in Weilheim.  1931-1934 studied philology in Rostock, Munich, Jena and Berlin;  1934/1935 studied theology in Erlangen;   1935-1936 training as a parish helper in the Burckhardthaus Berlin;  1936-1945 parish helper and secretary;  1948/1949 studied Theology at the Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin;  1950-1976 hospital chaplain, partly in a leading position, in Berlin, Lübeck and again Berlin. Susanne Eycke was daughter of Government architect Arthur Eycke and his wife Hedwig, b.  Böhm, born in Lower Silesia. 

Her father, who died in World War I in 1917, was Jewish.  Susanne Eycke’s vocation was to become a high school teacher of English, history, religion and art.  From 1931 to 1934 she studied philology in Rostock, Munich, Jena and Berlin.  In the summer semester of 1934 and the winter semester of 1934/1935, she changed to full theology in Erlangen for two semesters, but had to abandon her studies on March 31, 1935, as a “mixed-breed of the first degree”. 

Deaconesses under the Cross and Swastika – Suzanne was prevented from continuing her studies and had to serve under Pfister Horst Schirmacher who had exluded Jewish Christians from ministry

Instead, she attended from October 1935 to March 1936, the seminar for church women’s ministry in Burckhardthaus Berlin, which she could complete, taking into account their studies on 18 March 1936 with the exam as a parish worker.  From 1936 to 1938 she was ecclesiastical junior minister in the entire parish of Munich, 1938/1939 parish vicar in Berlin-Schlachtensee and from 1939 to 1945 chief secretary of the German Protestant Sailor’s Mission (director Gerhard Füllkrug). 

After a period of illness (TBC) in 1945/1946 and activities as a church helper in Gera in 1946/1947, she resumed her studies in theology at the Kirchliche Hochschule Berlin from April 1948 to August 1949 and on 16 August 1949 with the First Theological Examination  to lock.  She graduated from the Berlin-Buch Hospital in 1949/1950 under Pfister Horst Schirmacher, former NSDAP and DC member. As director of the Central Committee of the Inner Mission during the Nazi period, she was excluded from the ministry by him as a Christians of Jewish.  In November 1950, Susanne Eycke passed the Second Theological Examination and was ordained on 25 February 1951. 

Susaanne Eycke’s book “Prayers for the Sick – 1970

From 1950 to 1954 she was parish vicar at Oskar Helene Hospital, and until 1960 Provincial Vicar for Hospital Chaplaincy in Berlin.  Subsequently, she was appointed as a hospital pastor at the Medical Academy in Lübeck, where she was the chaplain until 1971 of St. Luke’s Hospital congregation.  In the care of children and adolescents with long-term illness, she benefited from her many years of experience in church youth work.  In 1971 she returned to Berlin where, until 31 December 1976, she served as the parish priest at the St. Elisabeth Diakonissen Hospital in Berlin-Schöneberg.  On her retirement in January 1, 1977, she lived in Augustinum-Wohnstift Dießen / Upper Bavaria.  Susanne Eycke died on 8 November 1996 in Weilheim.  Eberhard Rohm / Hartmut Ludwig

“The difficult postwar period” is an unpleasant chapter one for the churches. Surviving Christians of Jewish descent were still isolated, and treated like second class citizens, without the death threats. They had great difficulties coming back into church ministry, whilst many pastors who were former Nazi party members were allowed to continue in their positions.

The case of theologian Susanne Eycke shows how insensitive the Berlin church leadership was with the victims of Nazi racism. In 1949/1950 she had to complete her teaching vicariate with Pastor Horst Schirmacher, who was responsible during the Nazi period for being a member of the NSDAP and the DC for excluding Christians of Jewish descent from the ecclesiastical offices. 

Prayer and Reflection : My heart goes out to this devoted, caring and courageous lady, who trained to serve others but was prevented from exercising her gifts in the fullest way because of her Jewish father and the Nazi policies of exclusion. Her faith, humility and long-suffering shine through the story of her life, and her prayer book for the sick stands as a testimony to her willingness to care for others and not look to her own needs. Her warm smile says it all – a woman who knew she was loved by God through the Messiah, and wanted to show his love to all.

Lord, help us to be ambassadors of your reconciling love. Help us to show the love that you showed on the cross when you prayed “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Please help us to deal with the bitterness, anger and resentment that so often comes upon us when we are badly treated, rejected, persecuted or threatened by others. Thank you for the life of Susanne Eycke, you servant, who served others with your love. Help us to learn from her example and live out your teaching in thought, word and deed. In our Messiah Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen

Main source: Hartmut Ludwig & Eberhard Röhm in Verbindung mit Jörg Thierfelder (Hg.) EVANGELISCH GETAUFT – ALS »JUDEN» VERFOLGT. Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Ein Gedenkbuch.
Stuttgart: Calwer 2014, 473 sid.

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14 December 1913 Birth of Heinrich Pollack, Holocaust survivor and Hebrew Christian Pioneer in Israel

From the memorial page on facebook

Heinrich Günther Israel Pollack.
Born 13 Dec 1913 in Berlin. Died 01 Sep 2012 in Israel.

Lived through 2 World Wars. Escaped the nazi persecution and came to Sweden 1939. Joined the Salvation Army, married and had children. Made aliyah in 1970, but his wife and children didn’t follow. Remarried in Israel. Lived through the war of 1973. Was tricked by a deceiving “schelm”. Retired. Moved to Ebenezer old age home. Sat at his wife’s side when she was on her deathbed. Wrote a book on his life.

Died at an old age, and satisfied with life. He is happy now. He is Home, where he wanted to be.

The account in Evangelisch getauft – als »Juden« verfolgt: Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Ein Gedenkbuch (Baptized as Evangelical – Persecuted as “Jews”: Theologians of Jewish Origin in the Nazi Period. A memorial book) – by Hartmut Ludwig (Editor), Eberhard Röhm (Editor) gives more detail:

Heinrich Pollack * December 14, 1913 in Berlin, † September 1, 2012 in Haifa (Israel);  married.  with Gullam, née  Rooth;  three children;  1973 second marriage with Gabriela, b.  Goldberg (1918-2002).  Baptized in 1921;  1933 high school diploma;  various activities;  Member of the Paulusbund;  Mitarbeit in the Confessing Church in Berlin;  1939 emigration via England to Sweden.  1939–1940 studied theology in Lund;  Tutor;  1941-1971 Heilsarmea in Lund, Stockholm and Germany;  1971–1980 collaboration in the Center for Biological Distribution on the Mount of Olives (Israel);  1980 retirement. 

Heinrich’s parents, Walter Pollack and his wife Ida, were assimilated liberal Jews who no longer practiced the Jewish religion.  The father was a lawyer and died in 1915. Heinrich’s upbringing and education was the sole responsibility of his mother.  They had a warm and loving relationship.  Heinrich heard something about Jesus for the first time from their Christian housemaid.  When he started school in 1920, he was allowed to take part in Christian religious education. 

A year later he took baptism classes and was baptized in Potsdam on June 29, 1921.  He had to promise his mother never to hate the Jews and not to tell his grandmother.  But she had noticed and told him to read the New Testament and have great respect for Jesus.  In March 1930 he was confirmed in Berlin-Friedenau.  The economic crisis forced him and his mother to move to Steglitz in 1932.  On March 18, 1933, he graduated from high school.. 

During the political upheaval of 1933, he experienced being rejected as a Jew from the voluntary labor service.  He realized that he would not be able to study theology at university.  Training as a deacon and at the Gossner Mission was also closed to him.  He became a bookshop assistant until this was banned in the summer of 1934.  He worked as an employee in a Jewish liquor factory until the beginning of 1939. As a member of the confessional church community in Berlin-Dahlem, he had regularly participated in Martin Niemöller’s services and “catechism evenings” since September 1934. 

In 1935 he joined the Confessing Church Community of the Markuskirche in Steglitz.  He distributed banned pamphlets, collected donations, and distributed morning papers.  In 1937 he took part in “Church Teaching Courses” in which lay people were trained to serve in the Church.  During the 1929 summer holidays, which he almost always spent with his mother on the Baltic Sea, he met a Swedish girl, Elisabeth.

After the pogrom in November 1938, Elisabeth’s friend Margit came to Berlin to help him come to Sweden and study theology.  Pollack wrote to the Swedish king for admission.  By surprise, at Christmas 1938, Rev. C. Griffiths invited him to come to England.  It is not known how his name appeared on the list of “non-Aryan” pastors for whom Bishop George Bell provided the guarantee.  He went to the “Pastor Grüber’s Office” in Berlin, ran from authority to authority and left Berlin on February 28, 1939.  From March to mid-July 1939 Pollack was a guest of the community of St Leonards-on-Sea.  He met Franz Hildebrandt, whom he knew from Dahlem, Fritz Winckelmann and Wilhelm Deutschhausen, other Jewish Christians who had come to England through Bishop Bell’s initiative. 

He studied with Erich Winckelmann for some time at the Methodist Handsworth College in Birmingham.  Surprisingly, Pollack was given permission to come to Sweden to study theology.  He arrived in Lund on August 1, 1939.  The studies here were structured somewhat differently than in Germany.  Without instructions, he was overwhelmed and failed the test in spring 1940.  For financial reasons he had to work as a private tutor, founded a German study group and now mainly listened to lectures. 

His financial situation became more difficult.  In this hopeless situation, an inner voice “directed him to the Salvation Army.  At the end of 1942 he joined her, going through all stages of training from soldier to officer.  In August 1948, he became head of a corps.  From 1952 to 1958 he worked as an editor in the literature department of the headquarters of the Salvation Army in Stockholm.  Although he had vowed never to set foot on German soil again, he accepted the call to rebuild the Salvation Army in Germany.  From 1958 to 1964 he was editor in Herne and Cologne. 

When he returned to Swedish headquarters, he headed the tracing service for missing persons.  From May 1965 he was again in the literature department as editor of the magazine “Light in the dark”.  Even before the time in Germany he came into contact with the “Society of Friends of the Jews”.  Upon his return, he became more and more involved with the history and religion of Israel.  In his memoirs he wrote: “I understood that Israel is my people and that I have an obligation to tell my people about his Messiah” (p. 305).  In 1970 he accompanied a group of Swedes to Israel.  A dream came true when, in January 1971, he began as administrator of the Bible Center on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, informing visitors about the work of the centre.  Pollack was one of the early Messianic Jews and worked for the reconciliation of Jews and Christians.  For many years he was associated with Shalom Ben-Chorin and visited his reform synagogue.  (Hartmut Ludwig 274-275)

Heinz passed away in Ebenezer home in Haifa in 2012 – a much loved and respected figure in the Israeli Messianic community. His family continues to have significant leadership and influence in Israel and around the world.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for this servant of yours – the faith you gave him, the trials he went through, the ministry he exercised, and the legacy he left. May his name and memory continue to be a blessing to Israel, the Messianic community, and all nations. In Yeshua the Messiah’s name we pray. Amen

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13 December 1204 Passing of Moses Maimonides

“From Moses to Moses there was no one like Moses” – Rambam’s tombstone, Tiberias

Moses Maimonides, original name Moses Ben Maimon, also called Rambam, Arabic name Abū ʿImran Mūsā ibn Maymūn ibn ʿUbayd Allāh, (born March 30, 1135, Córdoba [Spain]—died December 13, 1204, Egypt), Jewish philosopher, jurist, and physician, the foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism. His first major work, begun at age 23 and completed 10 years later, was a commentary on the Mishna, the collected Jewish oral laws. A monumental code of Jewish law followed in Hebrew, The Guide for the Perplexed in Arabic, and numerous other works, many of major importance. His contributions in religionphilosophy, and medicine have influenced Jewish and non-Jewish scholars alike.

Maimonides, Moses
Maimonides, MosesMoses Maimonides.© Neftali/Shutterstock.com


Maimonides was born into a distinguished family in Córdoba (Cordova), Spain. The young Moses studied with his learned father, Maimon, and other masters and at an early age astonished his teachers by his remarkable depth and versatility. Before Moses reached his 13th birthday, his peaceful world was suddenly disturbed by the ravages of war and persecution.

As part of Islamic Spain, Córdoba had accorded its citizens full religious freedom. But now the Islamic Mediterranean world was shaken by a revolutionary and fanatical Islamic sect, the Almohads (Arabic: al-Muwaḥḥidūn, “the Unitarians”), who captured Córdoba in 1148, leaving the Jewish community faced with the grim alternative of submitting to Islam or leaving the city. The Maimons temporized by practicing their Judaism in the privacy of their homes, while disguising their ways in public as far as possible to appear like Muslims. They remained in Córdoba for some 11 years, and Maimonides continued his education in Judaic studies as well as in the scientific disciplines in vogue at the time.

When the double life proved too irksome to maintain in Córdoba, the Maimon family finally left the city about 1159 to settle in Fez, Morocco. Although it was also under Almohad rule, Fez was presumably more promising than Córdoba because there the Maimons would be strangers, and their disguise would be more likely to go undetected. Moses continued his studies in his favourite subjects, rabbinics and Greek philosophy, and added medicine to them. Fez proved to be no more than a short respite, however. In 1165 Rabbi Judah ibn Shoshan, with whom Moses had studied, was arrested as a practicing Jew and was found guilty and then executed. This was a sign to the Maimon family to move again, this time to Palestine, which was in a depressed economic state and could not offer them the basis of a livelihood. After a few months they moved again, now to Egypt, settling in Fostat, near Cairo. There Jews were free to practice their faith openly, though any Jew who had once submitted to Islam courted death if he relapsed to Judaism. Moses himself was once accused of being a renegade Muslim, but he was able to prove that he had never really adopted the faith of Islam and so was exonerated.Like what you’re reading?Subscribe today for unlimited access to Britannica.

Though Egypt was a haven from harassment and persecution, Moses was soon assailed by personal problems. His father died shortly after the family’s arrival in Egypt. His younger brother, David, a prosperous jewelry merchant on whom Moses leaned for support, died in a shipwreck, taking the entire family fortune with him, and Moses was left as the sole support of his family. He could not turn to the rabbinate because in those days the rabbinate was conceived of as a public service that did not offer its practitioners any remuneration. Pressed by economic necessity, Moses took advantage of his medical studies and became a practicing physician. His fame as a physician spread rapidly, and he soon became the court physician to the sultan Saladin, the famous Muslim military leader, and to his son al-Afḍal. He also continued a private practice and lectured before his fellow physicians at the state hospital. At the same time he became the leading member of the Jewish community, teaching in public and helping his people with various personal and communal problems.

Maimonides married late in life and was the father of a son, Abraham, who was to make his mark in his own right in the world of Jewish scholarship.


The writings of Maimonides were numerous and varied. His earliest work, composed in Arabic at the age of 16, was the Millot ha-Higgayon (“Treatise on Logical Terminology”), a study of various technical terms that were employed in logic and metaphysics. Another of his early works, also in Arabic, was the “Essay on the Calendar” (Hebrew title: Maʾamar haʿibur).

The first of Maimonides’ major works, begun at the age of 23, was his commentary on the MishnaKitāb al-Sirāj, also written in Arabic. The Mishna is a compendium of decisions in Jewish law that dates from earliest times to the 3rd century. Maimonides’ commentary clarified individual words and phrases, frequently citing relevant information in archaeology, theology, or science. Possibly the work’s most striking feature is a series of introductory essays dealing with general philosophic issues touched on in the Mishna. One of these essays summarizes the teachings of Judaism in a creed of Thirteen Articles of Faith.

He completed the commentary on the Mishna at the age of 33, after which he began his magnum opus, the code of Jewish law, on which he also laboured for 10 years. Bearing the name of Mishne Torah (“The Torah Reviewed”) and written in a lucid Hebrew style, the code offers a brilliant systematization of all Jewish law and doctrine. He wrote two other works in Jewish law of lesser scope: the Sefer ha-mitzwot (Book of Precepts), a digest of law for the less sophisticated reader, written in Arabic; and the Hilkhot ha-Yerushalmi (“Laws of Jerusalem”), a digest of the laws in the Palestinian Talmud, written in Hebrew.

His next major work, which he began in 1176 and on which he laboured for 15 years, was his classic in religious philosophy, the Dalālat al-ḥāʾirīn (The Guide for the Perplexed), later known under its Hebrew title as the Moreh nevukhim. A plea for what he called a more rational philosophy of Judaism, it constituted a major contribution to the accommodation between science, philosophy, and religion. It was written in Arabic and sent as a private communication to his favourite disciple, Joseph ibn Aknin. The work was translated into Hebrew in Maimonides’ lifetime and later into Latin and most European languages. It has exerted a marked influence on the history of religious thought.

Maimonides also wrote a number of minor works, occasional essays dealing with current problems that faced the Jewish community, and he maintained an extensive correspondence with scholars, students, and community leaders. Among his minor works those considered to be most important are Iggert Teman (Epistle to Yemen), Iggeret ha-shemad or Maʾamar Qiddush ha-Shem (“Letter on Apostasy”), and Iggeret le-qahal Marsilia (“Letter on Astrology,” or, literally, “Letter to the Community of Marseille”). He also wrote a number of works dealing with medicine, including a popular miscellany of health rules, which he dedicated to the sultan, al-Afḍal. A mid-20th-century historian, Waldemar Schweisheimer, has said of Maimonides’ medical writings: “Maimonides’ medical teachings are not antiquated at all. His writings, in fact, are in some respects astonishingly modern in tone and contents.”

Maimonides complained often that the pressures of his many duties robbed him of peace and undermined his health. He died in 1204 and was buried in Tiberias, in the Holy Land, where his grave continues to be a shrine drawing a constant stream of pious pilgrims.


Maimonides’ advanced views aroused opposition during his lifetime and after his death. In 1233 one zealot, Rabbi Solomon of Montpellier, in southern France, instigated the church authorities to burn The Guide for the Perplexed as a dangerously heretical book. But the controversy abated after some time, and Maimonides came to be recognized as a pillar of the traditional faith—his creed became part of the orthodox liturgy—as well as the greatest of the Jewish philosophers.

Maimonides’ epoch-making influence on Judaism extended also to the larger world. His philosophic work, translated into Latin, influenced the great medieval Scholastic writers, and even later thinkers, such as Benedict de Spinoza and G.W. Leibniz, found in his work a source for some of their ideas. His medical writings constitute a significant chapter in the history of medical science.Ben Zion Bokser https://www.britannica.com/biography/Moses-Maimonides

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7 December 1965 Second Vatican Council ends – New Relationship between the Jewish People and the Roman Catholic Church begins

Robert A Krieg writes “

The Second Vatican Council endorsed a change in the Catholic Church’s self -understanding and its stance toward the world and other religions. When Pope John XXIII convoked the council on December 25, 1961, he opened the way for both the end of the hegemony of the notion of the Church as a ‘‘perfect society,’’ that is, as a self-sufficient, juridical institution, and also the end of the Church’s negative attitude
toward modernity and non-Christian beliefs. The Council then proceeded in Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, to declare that the Church is ‘‘a sacrament—a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race.’ It also explained that the Church is the people of God and only secondarily an institution. Moreover, the council took a constructive stance toward the
world, especially as it acknowledged contemporary society’s merits as
well as its dilemmas in Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the
Church in the Modern World. Further, it conveyed respect for other
religions in Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church
to Non-Christian Religions. The Council declared: ‘‘Let Christians, while
witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and
encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians,
together with their social life and culture.’’ It added that the Church ‘‘deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews.’’ When Pope Paul VI closed the council on December 7, 1965, he envisioned the Church witnessing to the coming God’s reign and working with other religions for German Catholic Views of Jesus and Judaism ‘‘the progress of peoples.’’ Vatican II was surely an extraordinary turning point in the life of the Catholic Church.”

Robert A Krieg, “German Catholic Views of
Jesus and Judaism” in Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence, and the Holocaust edited by Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C., Indiana University Press, 2007

The significance of the Council cannot be underestimated. It heralded the way for all the churches, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox, to begin a new relationship with Jewish people, one of repentance, reconciliation, love, acceptance and recognition of God’s ongoing election of Israel. It paved the way for the modern Jewish reclamation of Jesus as one of us, and gave Christians encouragement to rediscover the Jewishness of Jesus, his early disciples, and to understand the mysterious unity of the whole Church in solidarity with the Jewish people.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that you are not only Lord of Creation, but Lord of Israel and the Church. Thank you for the ongoing work and legacy of the Council. May all your disciples be united in the hope of your soon return, to accomplish your purposes for Israel and all nations, and all creation. In our Messiah Yeshua we pray, Amen

For more information on the Council and its legacy see here and here

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How Did Christmas Become So Un-Jewish? An Ironic Timeline

December 25 is by tradition the day on which the Jewish Messiah Jesus was born. So how did it become what it is today, and why is it so difficult to celebrate it as the birthday of the greatest Jewish who ever lived, Yeshua the Messiah?

Where did Christmas trees and carols come from? What about the mistletoe and mince pies? Whatever traditions you may celebrate today, they don’t seem very Jewish, do they? So how did Christmas become so un-Jewish? Often it’s been a day when Jews have been shamed, tortured, and murdered.  What follows is an ironic timeline.



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24 February 1999 Death of David Daube #otdimjh

20th anniversary of passing of David Daube, Jewish student of Jesus

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

24 February 1999 Death of David Daube, scholar of Judaism, Christianity and Roman Law

David Daube DCL, FBA (8 February 1909, Freiburg, Germany – 24 February 199, Berkeley, California) was the twentieth century’s preeminent scholar of ancient law. He combined a familiarity with many legal systems, particularly Roman law and biblical law, with an expertise in Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian literature, and used literary, religious, and legal texts to illuminate each other and, among other things, to “transform the position of Roman law” and to launch a “revolution”or “near revolution” in New Testament studies. (wikipedia article)

Image result for david daube new testament

I met David Daube on the steps of Berkeley University  in California in 1991 when I was completing my MA Dissertation. I explained that I was a Jewish believer in Jesus and had learned much from his work, especially “The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism”. He told me he was very…

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23 February 1813 Birth of Franz Delitzsch #otdimjh

A great scholar, man of God and lover of the Jewish people

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

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Report of First International/Interconfessional Congress of Jewish Disciples of Jesus 15 February 2019 #otdimjh

Screenshot 2019-02-19 at 16.36.45

The lights are dim during a Friday night service in a sanctuary that holds 4,000 people at the non-denominational Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas. Many traditional Jewish elements of the Sabbath are present: There’s a blessing over the bread and wine, candle lighting, a Torah scroll, and a prayer shawl. About 12 musicians play contemporary Christian music that contains a spattering of Hebrew lyrics.

Pastor Greg Stone, associate pastor of Gateway Jewish Ministries, offers a message based on the words of Ezekiel and Daniel to an audience of 700, of whom 30 percent are Jewish, according to an in-house survey. Gateway’s lead pastor, Robert Morris, believes in the principle “first to the Jew” (Rom. 1:16, ESV), therefore the church created this first Friday Jewish service and incorporates Jewish learning in its adult education classes on all six of its campuses. This megachurch of 36,000 also gives the initial one percent of its tithes and offerings to ministries that serve the Jewish people. “It’s part of the DNA of Gateway,” Stone said.

Gateway is only one of many Christian spaces around the world where Jews can foster their identity. In Toulouse, France, Sister Eliana Kurylo, a Jewish Catholic nun from The Community of the Beatitudes, prays Jewish liturgy on the eve of the Sabbath. In Jerusalem, Father Antoine Levy, a Jewish Dominican priest, studies modern Hebrew during a one-year sabbatical from his post in Finland.

Last August, Stone, Kurylo, and Levy joined a group of 40-plus Jewish believers in Jesus from various countries and traditions; they convened at The King’s University in Dallas for the First International/Interconfessional Congress of Jewish Disciples of Jesus.

The conference participants were Jewish Christian and Messianic leaders committed to a renewed corporate expression of Jews who believe in Jesus, yet without relinquishing particular ecclesial affiliations. They were motivated by their common lament that, for nearly two millennia, there has not been an extensive, visible Jewish body of faith in Jesus. Together they grieved that Christianity has been without its Jewish constituency and without the original Jewish orientation in Christian identity. For these attendees, this loss has deeply wounded the Christian church and the Jewish people, which can only be healed by resurrecting a visible Jewish presence within Christianity.

“We are given one chance to stand on our feet as a community,” said Levy, co-organizer of the congress. “Unity is bound up in the renewed presence of the Jewish people.

Repairing a Fractured History

Historically, tension between Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus dates back to an early dilemma: how to include Gentiles in the early Jewish Christian community of faith. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) decided to hold incoming Gentiles to limited Jewish ritual standards. Gentiles eventually eclipsed Jews numerically, and by the fourth century, the issue was reversed, with Gentile leaders questioning the presence of Jewish identity in Christianity.

From that point on, institutional Christianity cut itself off from its Jewish setting, requiring Jews to leave their community and identity in order to believe in Jesus. Within a few centuries, as rabbinic Judaism took shape, its leaders also marginalized Jewish followers of Jesus and put distance between a developing Judaism and an evolving Christianity.

Many attendees of the Dallas congress posit that this first “divorce” not only suppressed Jewish identity but also set a precedent. “The failure of the church to deal successfully with the Jew-Gentile distinction,” said Mark Kinzer, a Messianic theologian and co-organizer of the congress, “can be seen as a foundational flaw that set the stage for ruptures and schisms to follow.”

The congress stems from the Helsinki Consultation on Jewish Continuity in the Body of Messiah, a smaller group of Messianic Jews, Catholic, Orthodox, and Episcopal Jewish Church leaders worldwide. Evangelical Jewish leaders joined the consultation for the first time at the Dallas meeting. They included Greg Stone of Gateway; David Klein, a Presbyterian (PCA) pastor; and Lee Spitzer, a minister and general secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA.

The Helsinki Consultation has been meeting annually for more than ten years to hash out the theological rationale for Jews who believe in Jesus to maintain a distinctive Jewish identity. Its participants have developed statements that now serve as the core theology for this expanding network. Undergirding their theology are Bible verses about the irrevocability of God’s gifts and call to Israel (Rom. 11:29) and Jesus’ validation of the law (Matt. 5:17).

Potential exists for the creation of a large group of loosely defined Jews who believe in Jesus across denominational lines. Projections in the 19th century suggested that up to 300,000 Jews existed across Christian traditions, but current research is inconsistent. A recent LifeWay Research survey, sponsored by Chosen People Ministries (CPM), discovered that more than 870,000 people with one Jewish parent or grandparent attend American evangelical churches. Levy estimates that there are an additional 50,000 to 100,000 Jews in the Russian Orthodox church and about 10,000 Jewish Catholics globally. Jews in Messianic congregations likely figure in the tens of thousands globally.

Jacob vs. Jacob

The congress was an unprecedented gathering, given these Jewish attendees came from a diversity of Christian streams and denominations. Those at the congress view themselves as building on the work of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, an older fellowship of Protestant Hebrew Christians that began in 1915. This earlier alliance’s success was hindered by the Holocaust and the Messianic Jewish community’s stronger Jewish orientation, which created a chasm between Jews in churches and those in Messianic congregations.

Messianic Jews have been establishing their own congregations for half a century and could assist their siblings in churches that want to revitalize their Jewish identity. While a majority of Messianic Jews would prefer that Jews in churches join their community, many Jews are attached to their particular affiliations and believe their presence within their denominations provides a concrete connection to the Jewish people and an integrated witness to the kingdom of heaven. For unity to occur among Jewish followers of Jesus, Messianic Jews will need to accept the reasons some Jewish Christians choose to remain committed to their churches, despite the way it can restrict the flourishing of Jewish identity.

A sign of reconciliation occurred at the Dallas congress. Two Messianic Jewish leaders, Monique Brumbach, the executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, and Marty Waldman, the senior rabbi of a large Dallas Messianic congregation, expressed regret for having insisted that all Jews should be part of the Messianic congregational community. “I need to ask God for forgiveness and from my brothers and sisters for judging them,” Waldman said. “As a Messianic Jew with evangelical roots, I professed Jews who joined historical churches were mishugenah [crazy].”

Messianic Jews have striven to emphasize the Jewish context of Christianity for decades. If this new alliance grows, however, so could opposition from Christians and Jews alike. Many Jews and Christians remain uncomfortable with theologies they believe blur the boundaries between Judaism and Christianity.

Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, admits that joining Jewish identity with belief in Jesus is less of a contradiction today than in the past. He attributes this to the growing appreciation among scholars of the Jewish roots of Christianity and secular or cultural Jews increasingly separating Jewish identity from faith. However, Sandmel maintains that Jewish institutions unequivocally reject Jewish Christians. From the traditional Jewish perspective, core Jewish identity is irrevocable, said, “but there is pretty much a consensus that professing belief in Jesus places one outside of the Jewish community.”

Sandmel acknowledges some Jewish Christians have positively impacted the Jewish community, such as Catholic theologian Monsignor John Maria Oesterreicher, who worked to improve Jewish-Catholic relations by repudiating anti-Semitism. Tackling anti-Semitism is an ongoing objective of the congress. Spitzer, who published a book about Baptists hiding Jews during the Holocaust, attended the Congress with this motivation: “I feel that the church of the 21st century needs to proactively find its voice on anti-Semitism.”

The congress shares many key goals with the broader Jewish world. Faydra Shapiro, an Orthodox Jewish observer at the conference and executive director at the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, said in a Jerusalem Post article, “At a time when the mainstream Jewish community finds it so challenging to get Jews to live active and committed Jewish lives, this gathering was an unexpected inspiration.”

Re-Establishing Jews as the People of God

Many scholars believe all streams of Christianity are supersessionist, believing that Israel has been replaced by the Christian church. Such churches will be unlikely to encourage their Jewish brethren to renew their Jewish identity.

Gentiles need to acknowledge they are dual participants in the story of salvation, said Willie James Jennings, associate professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale Divinity School and one of the founding members of the Society for Post-Supersessionist Theology. “Salvation was intended to be us learning how to enter the lives of others—Jews entering the lives of Gentiles, Gentiles entering the lives of Jews,” said Jennings, “figuring out in life together how we would worship and serve and love the one true God through faith in Jesus Christ.”

While some Christians see Jews as the people of God, many have not cultivated a theology that undergirds that view. Chosen People’s LifeWay survey found that 41 percent of evangelicals do not think that the church has replaced Israel, while 28 percent believe it has (32 percent weren’t sure).

Mitch Glaser, president of CPM, has noticed one difference. Most evangelical Christians apply passages about the people of Israel to themselves in light of their own needs, he said. However, he believes that many, when asked directly, would deny the church has replaced the Jewish people. “I call that pragmatic supersessionism,” Glaser said.

One of the Protestant attendees in Dallas, pastor David Klein, said his Christian faith has been shaped by Reformed theology, which formally denies that the church has replaced Israel as the people of God. In reality, Klein admitted, the theology effectively erases Israel, and the New Covenant supersedes the Old. Though raised attending a conservative synagogue, Klein recalled, “When I came to faith, I was given the clear impression that faith in Jesus is the doorway out of Judaism into Christianity, and not in any way an entryway into a deeper Jewish life.”

During graduate studies and while serving as a Presbyterian pastor, Klein came to a new understanding that encouraged him to think theologically and personally about Jewish life and identity. “It was a moment of genuine insight, followed by genuine horror,” he said. He was deeply distressed that his previous understanding had negatively impacted his family, ministry, and personal life.

To address such concerns, the Dallas initiative sees itself as a Jewish support network. Some denominations, such as the Southern Baptists, the Assemblies of God, and the Foursquare churches, have developed communal space for Jews through their own Messianic Jewish fellowships, and the Catholic church maintains an Association of Hebrew Catholics. Still, churches have a long way to go, according to Kinzer. “It is very difficult for Jews to sustain any kind of Jewish identity and preserve Jewish life within the church context,” he said. “It can only happen if something pretty dramatic changes.”

Unity Between Jews and Gentiles in the Church

The Dallas congress hopes to restore a space for Jews in churches and renew the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in Christian churches by putting Jesus into the center of Israel’s story. For Kinzer, that doesn’t imply that all Christians should practice Jewish customs or offer Jewish services. Rather, he hopes that churches—Jewish members or not—would develop a sense that their identity is intertwined with the Jewish people. This could be acknowledged through church rituals, in prayers, and by forming relationships with Jewish people. Kinzer sees the Lord’s Supper as the ideal time for Jews and Gentiles to celebrate together and reflect the unity in diversity of the kingdom of heaven.

Some Christians, especially abroad, have grasped the centrality of the Jewish people to their faith, as witnessed by Ephraim Radner, a Jewish Episcopal priest, a theology professor at Wycliffe College, and an attendee at the Dallas conference. Radner warmly recalls the sermon that Archbishop Samuel Sindamuka preached at his ordination in Burundi in the 1980s. The archbishop was astonished that a Jewish savior, born from the ancient line of Abraham, would welcome into his fold a Gentile nation (the Barundi), who would in turn ordain a Jewish man, Radner, from the new world.

Sindamuka had asked his congregation to marvel at this divine ordering of history that brought Jews and Gentiles together. Through Radner’s ordination, the archbishop had seen a glimpse of when God will “bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph. 1:10).

Yet according to Radner, the archbishop understood that within that unity exists a distinction between the nations of the world and Jewish Israel. “The genealogy was not something to be surpassed in Christ,” said Radner, “but lifted up as a confirmation, in the present, of God’s reality and truth for others. Not only can one not shed one’s Jewishness in this context; to do so would be to deny the reality of God for others.”

This expanding fellowship of Jewish believers in Jesus is still in its infancy. The conference last summer produced a resolution on identity and vision and established a steering committee to strategize ways to approach Jews in varied church settings. Organizers are planning another congress to be held by 2020.

While promising, an extensive alliance of Messianic Jews and Jewish Christians, represented in part by the Dallas conference, still faces uncertainty. Jews across all streams of Christianity exist as individuals and small groups, but the question remains whether they will want to form such a broad, determined, and visible union—together with the established Messianic Jewish community—that could also eventuate a long-lost unity in the body of believers in Jesus and with the broader Jewish world.

“It’s kind of like trying to awaken a slumbering giant,” Kinzer said.

Deborah Pardo-Kaplan is a religion journalist living in Austin, Texas.




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17 February 2001 Death of Richard Wurmbrand, Romanian Jewish believer in Yeshua #otdimjh

I recently visited the street in Bucharest where Richard Wurmbrand lived, right next to the Synagogue which is now the centre for Holocaust documentation. The streets remain the same – the legacy lives on – Wurmbrand’s life, ministry and books are as vitally needed today in a world that needs hope for Israel and all nations – “Christ on the Jewish Road” is an eye-opening revelation of what it means to be a Jewish disciple of Rabbi Yeshua.

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

jewish road

Early life

Richard Wurmbrand, the youngest of four boys, was born on March 24, 1909 in Bucharest in a Jewish family. He lived with his family in Istanbul for a short while; his father died when he was 9, and the Wurmbrands returned to Romania when he was 15.

As an adolescent, he became attracted to communism, and, after attending a series of illegal meetings of the Communist Party of Romania (PCdR), he was sent to study Marxism in Moscow, but returned clandestinely the following year. Pursued by Siguranţa Statului (the secret police), he was arrested and held in Doftana prison. Wurmbrand subsequently renounced his political ideals.


He married Sabina Oster on October 26, 1936. Wurmbrand and his wife became believers in Yeshua in 1938 through the witness of Christian Wolfkes, a Romanian Christian carpenter; they joined the Anglican…

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