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Ask The Rabbi
Conservative Messianic Judaism
MAN-NA - Messianic
Alliance of North America (note this is a generic listing not all
sites follow Conservative Messianic Judaism)
Ask the Rabbi - Why
allow Messianic Conversion?
Why Messianic Jewish Conversion?
With the recent decision to allow Messianic Jewish Conversions in our Synagogue,
some people have expressed confusion as to why we are allowing this. Others
believe the practice may not be allowed in Scripture or creates a "middle wall
of partition" and is thus divisive.
We'd like to take a moment to discuss what conversion (to proselytize) is, and
To proselytize (conversion) means to become a Jew. All traditional sects of
Judaism allow conversion. As a Messianic Jewish Synagogue, allowing conversion
is a natural step consistent with our direction as a Synagogue. Additionally,
the MBI Yeshiva and Messianic Bureau International (which we work actively with
and is the Yeshiva Rabbi Gavri'el graduated from) both allow conversions. The
Messianic Alliance of Metro Atlanta has discussed the issue, with 2 of the 3
Rabbis being in agreement that conversions be allowed.
No one has to proselytize, nor do we actively encourage proselytizing. Since
Scripture teaches all Believers are equal before G-D through the sacrifice of
Messiah, proselytizing is not required for salvation nor a relationship to G-D
(this too is consistent with traditional Synagogue teachings as the Rabbis teach
non-Jews are required to only keep the Noachide commands to have Eternal Life).
Scripture clearly does not require conversion, nor does it forbid it. Common
passages about the "wall of partition" and "legalism" clearly do not apply as
they were about forced conversion or conversion for salvation. Timothy was ½
Jewish and was circumcised by Sha'ul. I believe we all agree that was not
Thus in a real sense, proselytizing is not a religious decision. To proselytize
does not save, does not make anyone a super (higher level) Believer, or make
them more holy or righteous.
So why allow a person to proselytize? Three primary reasons come to mind: Heart,
Identification, and Peoplehood. Let's look at each of these individually:
1. Heart - Some Believers feel a strong heart attachment and longing to be part
of the Jewish people. Their heart's desire is not only to be grafted-in (similar
to G-D-fearers in Yeshua's time), but to take that final step and become a Jew.
2. Identification - Closely related to Heart, Identification is the desire to
identify with and be identified as part of the Jewish People.
3. Peoplehood - Peoplehood is the desire to become part of the Jewish people and
adopt their ways, history, and if necessary, persecution.
If you say these all are the same, in many ways they are. It is looking at the
same desire from 3 different prospectives. These can best be characterized by
Rut (Ruth) of the Scriptures. Ruth said "Your people shall be my people, and
your G-D shall be my G-D."
Some common reasons people choose to proselytize are: Marriage to a Jew
(existing or future), Children are Jewish, Jewish Ancestry but was not raised a
Jew, and the above described hearts desire.
Since this is not a religious decision, it should in no way be considered
divisive. No current leadership position in the Synagogue requires one to
This decision is a very personal one between the person and G-D. No one should
make it lightly, nor should anyone be denied the right to fulfill the desire of
their heart. The conversion process follows the Conservative model and will
require approximately 1 year for study including 3-4 books. The person must have
been participating in Messianic Judaism for at least 1 or more full Jewish
yearly cycles. The final step is an interview by the local Beit Din,
circumcision (if male), and Mikvah. Traditionally a special offering is made by
the Ger tzedek (proselyte, this practice comes from the Korban or special
offering given in the Temple by new converts). The proselyte will then be
considered fully a Jew with no distinction between being born a Jew or
Will these conversions be accepted by others? Yes and No. They will be
considered as valid as Reform conversions are to Orthodox sects (which are not
considered valid). To many individual Jews, and to most others, the convert will
be considered Jewish. These conversions are not currently eligible to make
Aliyah to Israel. In the interest of full disclosure, both the MJAA/IAMCS & UMJC
do not currently perform conversions.
I'd like to close by quoting Messianic Rabbi Derek Leman's article he recently
had published in the Messianic Times - "Gentiles who are not called to live as
Jews should not be treated as second-class or left out of leadership positions.
Neither should Gentiles like myself be forbidden to have a ceremony formalizing
in the community the way we are already living."
To that I say Ahmain!
Plant a Tree