As the pot simmers in the Middle East, we here in the US are feeling the effects.
Not long ago, Israel sent over some religious representatives to investigate how to keep Judaism alive in the US.
Sounds strange, no?
Well as it turns out, close to half of American Jews are intermarrying “out,” meaning marrying out of the faith. Opinions vary as to why, but at the end of the day it means that Jews living in America may soon disappear as a distinct ethic identity. I can tell you that to many of us, religion is a non-starter. It is just that and has no relevance to us.
Life got in the way. We went to school and became professionals. And we are good at it. Many of us are involved in our communities. We support charitable work; we help those less fortunate.
All good things to be sure.
But what will become of them? Of us?
I’m not sure but I can say this: the further away from a basic Bible education they get, the quicker their demise will be. Today’s Judaism focuses far more on social values. I’ve attended several bar and bat mitzvahs in the past couple of years and have come away astounded at just how little the kids really know their Bible. Nor did they do much with the Torah or Haftorah portions they were assigned. Most of their speeches were taken up with social causes with little commentary on the learning from the Scriptures.
Where are our rabbis? Where are our teachers?
I remember one of my Hebrew school teachers, who said to us Bar/Bat Mitzvah students so many years ago, “you’re no better than a bunch of parrots.” She meant that as good as we may have been reciting our portions, few, if any of us really understood what we were reading…or what it meant.
This leads to a discussion of what Jewish Values are and where they come from.
Well, there is a similar problem growing in Israel itself. While many who travel there see it as a bastion of Jewish thought, one may be surprised to hear that even within the Jewish state, there are identity issues.
There is a legal battle currently being waged that actually challenges what an Israeli is. Or is not.
To be sure, there are Jewish Israelis. There are Arab Israelis. There are even Christian Israelis. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has a mission. Everyone thinks they know what they are doing. I wonder. Even the Israelis wonder. So, I say to them, relax. You are Jews first, Israelis second. And that’s just fine.
To my Christian friends I say: Thank you for reading your Bibles and respecting God’s chosen. You have learned about Yeshua (Jesus) and how He fulfills Jewish Messianic prophecy. Learn your mission—which is explained in Paul’s epistle to the Romans (chapters 9-11). In short, love the Jewish people and make them jealous for the faith. Read it and practice it.
To my Jewish friends and family I say: Read your Bible. No, I mean, REALLY READ it! It is filled with wisdom, truth, and justice. It is not a nice book with lovely stories. It is God’s word. Treat it with the respect it deserves. Fulfill your destiny.
To the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church Representatives soon to visit Israel, I say: leave Israel alone. Despite how you may interpret scripture, or Middle East politics, Israel is Jewish land. It was then and it is now. You are visitors. Treat the Israelis with respect for they are your hosts. Period. If you treat them with respect, they will respect you.
To Muslims, I say, I don’t hate you. In fact, I love you, very much. You are very earnest and have a desire to know God. However, you are in bondage to a false religion. Cast it off and find one of us…we will help steer you to God.
So, what do you say?