On This Page:
What Do We Mean by Jewish Roots/Hebrew Roots?
What We DO NOT mean by Jewish Roots/Hebrew Roots
Concerning Torah Observance
Other Recommended Articles:
1. What do we mean by jewish roots/Hebrew roots?
Jews returning to their jewish roots
As Temple Beth Yachad, “House of Unity,” our congregation is made of Jews and non-Jews. Our congregational purpose is to make Yeshua the Messiah known to our Jewish people, proclaiming and exemplifying that turning (shuvah) to the Jewish Messiah is, in actuality, a return to your Jewish roots. Time and again, we find that as Jewish people turn to faith in Yeshua the Messiah, they find themselves embracing their Jewishness and returning to their Jewish roots in a way that they never did before coming to Messiah! We believe that Jewish followers of Yeshua are privileged to maintain our Jewish biblical heritage and remain a part of our People Israel. This is part of our identity and a witness to the faithfulness of God. (Romans 3:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:17-20; Acts 21:20-24)
But what about the gentiles?
It is not unusual for a Jewish seeker to visit and ask, “Why would so many Gentiles come to a synagogue?” Well, first of all, we are called to reach not only our Jewish people, but also the nations (Goyim, Gentiles). “For God so loved the WORLD...” (John 3:16). The reality is, many of the non-Jews in our congregation were initially drawn to become a part of us due to a deep appreciation for Jewish life and culture and/or a growing desire to understand the Biblical Jewish roots of their faith. And, of course, this is something we think is a good thing. Understanding the Jewishness of the whole Bible - from Genesis to Revelation - is not only to be commended; it is to be encouraged! Trying to understand a Jewish book without understanding its Jewish context is like trying to understand the 4th of July without having any sense of American history - it doesn’t make nearly as much sense.
The wonderful “grafted-in” (Romans 11:17) non-Jewish believers at Temple Beth Yachad are an important and integral part of our congregation, as we join together in unity (yachad) to make Yeshua the Messiah known to the Jewish people and to the nations. In writing about those seeking to understand their Jewish Roots in a healthy way, Dr. Dan Juster writes, “They connect to the Jewish people and the meaning of the Biblical feasts without suggesting any legalistic requirements. They recognize that Messianic Jews are still called to live and identify with their people, and also that Gentiles who believe in the Messiah are not responsible to take up patterns of Jewish life. They clearly understand the apostolic directives of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, as well as Paul's warnings in Galatians.” (See Dr. Juster’s Article, “The Danger of Jewish Roots Movements”).
Freedom in messiah
At Temple Beth Yachad, we believe that if non-Jews feel a personal conviction to keep kosher, to keep the Shabbat, or to keep other matters of Torah in a specific way, they are free to do so, but they are not free to impose such personal convictions on other believers. Paul writes, “Therefore, do not let anyone pass judgment on you in matters of food or drink, or in respect to a festival or new moon or Shabbat. These are a foreshadowing of things to come, but the reality is Messiah” (Colossians 2:16-17). Our righteousness comes only through faith in Yeshua the Messiah (Galatians 3:24). Regarding disputable matters, such as recognition of Holy Days or matters surrounding food, Paul writes in Romans 14:22, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” “For the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but righteousness and shalom and joy in the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) (Romans 14:17).”
2. what we do not mean by jewish roots/Hebrew roots
Unfortunately, there are a growing number of individuals and groups who have banded together identifying themselves as a “Hebrew Roots” movement, teaching a number of Biblically erroneous doctrines that cause confusion and bring division in congregations. The use of the term “Hebrew Roots” is unfortunate because it brings confusion, but since they identify themselves by this term, so must we.
The IAMCS (International Association of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues), with whom we are affiliated, has written an extensive position paper, “One Law: Two Sticks,” concerning these Hebrew Roots teachings, which we highly recommend reading.
We also recommend reading the following articles which address these errors with wonderful clarity.
Dr. Dan Juster, “The Danger of Jewish Roots Movements”.
Stephen Katz, “The Jewish Roots Movement: Flowers and Thorns”
Temple Beth Yachad does not hold to the erroneous teachings of the Hebrew Roots movement, including the following. The IAMCS Paper, in particular, deals with many of these issues in great detail:
Promoting the idea that all the world’s believers in the Messiah - Jewish and Gentile alike - must keep the Torah, particularly the Shabbat, the feasts, and a kosher diet, a doctrine often called “One Law”.
Teaching the Two-House/Ephraimite Doctrine. Some teach that Christians of anglo descent are in fact the lost tribes of Israel, and are therefore required to keep the whole of Torah. In fact, there is a strong element of Replacement Theology in this teaching, as they teach that in keeping the Torah, they become the “True Israel”.
Rejecting the writings of Paul and even the book of Hebrews, or re-interpreting them in order to maintain a “One Law” doctrine.
Insisting on using the sacred name of the LORD, yod-hey-vav-hey (YHVH). These individuals claim that it is wrong for people to pray in the “pagan” Greek-influenced name of “Jesus” or “the Lord.” They insist upon using the “correct” Hebrew name. Further, they insist that Yeshua’s actual name is “Yahshuah”. This is a complete fabrication. (See Dr. Michael L. Brown’s “Can We Stop with the Yahshua Nonsense?”)
- The error of those who insist on the use of the Sacred Name is not simply a linguistic one. The bigger error of the Sacred Name movement, and its successors who follow their traditions today, is in its legalistic insistence that using a little Hebrew is somehow going to improve a person’s relationship with God. Using Hebrew is not indicative of a person’s chosen-ness, nor does it increase righteousness, holiness, or intimacy with God. The fact that they use incorrect Hebrew only serves to highlight the error, and exposes the inaccurate nature of the Sacred Name movement.
- Insisting that Christian holy day celebrations are pagan abominations. This teaching is wrong and unnecessarily divisive. As Dr. Juster points out, “We should note that three of the main Christian Feasts are really a Christianization of Jewish Feasts: Passover/Pesach is celebrated as the death of Yeshua on Good Friday, Early First Fruits/Bikurim as the Resurrection, and Shavuot/Weeks as Pentecost. Yes, the Church should connect these Feasts much more clearly to their Jewish context. But the assertion that the Christian versions are pagan is painfully wrong.”
Concerning Christmas, we consider this to be a “disputable matter” (Romans 14) that is really up to the personal conviction of the individual. It is not a sin issue, and therefore it is not to be a source of division or contention within the congregation. Many of our interfaith families enjoy the rich traditions from their Jewish heritage and their Christian heritage, including the celebration traditional non-Biblical holidays such as Hanukkah and Christmas. Different families and individuals celebrate these holidays with a variety of their own family traditions. We ask our people to follow their convictions on these “disputable” matters while not imposing those convictions on others. See Rabbi Stuart Dauermann’s Articles, “Let’s Not Get Strange About Christmas, Shall We?”
3. Concerning Torah Observance
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Questions about Torah