What do you think about when you hear the word “community?”
What do you think of when you hear the term, “The Black Community?” Or how about the “Latino Community?”
Does that mean that everyone attached to a specific community thinks, acts, or believes the same things? Should they?
Honestly? I bristle when I hear or see groups of people holding similar beliefs, physical traits, or some other identifiers in common–expected to act or believe the same thing. What do I mean?
Let’s take those falling into the “African-American Community.” Is an African American (or Black person) always going to vote more liberally than, say, a person from a “White Community?” Is someone of this “community” always expected to struggle in school and achieve less in life? Should we expect them to follow the statistics and fall into a life of crime?
I say “No!”
It seems that we need to categorize, group, organize, or lump others or ourselves together to make or prove a point.
I resent it when any “community” is expected to act, talk, walk, or do the same thing…. And this especially holds true when it comes to the “Jewish Community.”
This matter is dear to my heart for several reasons. Let’s look at some of these together.
First, who is a Jew? History tells us that it’s anyone who self identifies with the God of Israel and is a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.
Second, Jewish culture is as diverse as any group on the planet. There are Jews in virtually every nation. Once the Jew finds himself or herself in that nation, he or she will settle in, learn the language, and live within that nation’s culture, sometimes safely, sometimes not.
But are they all the same?
The answer? Absolutely not!
Modern day Jews find themselves at a crossroads. A recent article I found estimates that close to 70% of American Jews have intermarried with Gentiles. A group in Israel recently announced that it is sending a contingent of religious leaders to America to help save American Jews from themselves.
The challenge then is how to preserve Judaism. But what is Judaism?
Must a Jew go to synagogue to be Jewish? What happens to a Jewish man or woman when they decide that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah? Does that make them less a Jew? Have they converted?
Can one be gay and still practice Judaism? Is there any holy guidance that answers these questions?
I’m not sure I know the answer but I do know this… for centuries…in fact for millennia, Jews have rarely agreed on anything. In writings such as the Talmud or the various commentaries by Rashi or Maimonides, and others, the ancient sages have always encouraged healthy debate—I think the Bible calls that iron sharpening iron.
But rarely do Jews agree on much of anything. And this is where the argument that a Jew cannot believe in Jesus (Or Yeshua) and remain a Jew makes me bristle.
It is time for international Jewry to finally admit that there are differences of opinion within the general definition of what a Jew is and what a Jew believes.
Modern day Judaism bears little resemblance to what the ancients practiced. Sadly, many if not most of today’s “Jewish Community” have far less knowledge and understanding of the one book that best defines what a Jew is and what he or she believes. Simply stated,
When one studies the Bible and puts his or her faith there, most of the confusion vanishes and the answers appear.
I invite your response.