How are Messianic Jews treated in Israel
Dear Mr. Uschomirski, thank you very much for your willingness to answer a few questions for us. We from the Israel Working Group have a subgroup with “Asked - People” under the heading “Asked”.
Here people who live in Israel or the Palestinian Territories or who are involved in any way for Israel and the people should have their say.
You are a Jew, you are a Messianic Jew and have lived in Germany for how long?
I have lived in Germany with my family for 24 years.
They are originally from Ukraine. Why move to Germany and not to Israel? And how did you get on in the early days in Germany?
First of all, why did we leave our home in the first place? The first reason was the growing anti-Semitism in Ukraine. After perestroika, the economy in Ukraine collapsed. The guilty party was searched for and, following centuries of tradition, the culprits were often Jews. They talked about upcoming pogroms. We as a family have prepared for the trip to Israel. We also took Hebrew language courses. But God changed the circumstances dramatically and so we came to Germany. The second reason for our departure was the growing threat from Chernobyl. The consequences of the reactor catastrophe in 1986 increased more and more. We just wanted to get our child out of this mess. The beginning in Germany was not easy. We couldn't speak a word of German and our professions weren't optimized for this country. (My wife and I are both photographers by profession). On the other hand, the Lord has never forsaken us. Again and again He sent us the people who supported us and helped us. I have described it in detail in my book: Help Jesus, I am a Jew.
It was never easy for Jews in the former Soviet Union, which also included Ukraine. From small harassment to pogroms, everything was there over the centuries. Can you tell us a little about how the Jews in Ukraine were doing?
Differently. On the one hand, attempts have been made to profit from the intelligence of the Jews. Almost every manager tried to have a Jewish deputy. On the other hand, there has always been either overt or hidden anti-Semitism in Ukraine. Attempts were made to cover up the role of the Jews in World War II. Until the end of the 1960s there was no memorial for the 33,771 murdered Jews in the largest extermination site Babiy Yar in Kiev. A monument to Bogdan Khmelnitsky, the national Ukrainian hero, a Cossack prince who was responsible for the deaths of almost 100,000 Jews in the Ukrainian-Polish war (17th century), still stands on one of the main squares in Kiev. The worst part, however, was that Jews were stripped of their beliefs and religion. Almost three generations of Jews in the former Soviet Union were lost to Judaism. Many Jews changed their old names to Ukrainian names to avoid harassment.
You grew up as a Jew and at some point discovered Jeshua as the Messiah for yourself. How did this come about and how did those around you, i.e. family and friends, react?
In my childhood I experienced anti-Semitism in school and later in society. I asked myself and my parents questions about my identity and got no satisfactory answers. Later, my questions were more existential: Why was I born a Jew? Is there a purpose in our life? What happens after death? I looked for the answers in Buddhism and yoga, have also read the Western European philosophers, but my soul remained empty. And then God found myself. After reading a book, my wife and I came to a messianic church in Kiev. There we realized that Jesus was a Jew, that he came to his people first and foremost as the Messiah, and if we as Jews believe in him, we remain Jews and do not betray our people. It was then that we decided to follow the Messiah Yeshua. We were the only ones in our families who came to believe in Yeshua. Later my parents-in-law also came to believe. My family remained neutral about my beliefs. My mother thought time will pass and I will forget my faith. Only over time did she realize that living my faith was very important to me. What convinced them was the fact that my married life became much better and more successful.
How are the contacts to the messianic congregations in Israel? Or in the neighboring countries in Europe? Are there any networks?
Most of the messianic congregations in Germany maintain lively contact with the messianic congregations in Israel. We visit each other and invite each other to the conferences as speakers. In Europe we especially have contacts with Russian-speaking messianic congregations in the area of the former Soviet Union.
Evangelical Church and Messianic Jews, a burdensome, a burdensome issue. At the evang. You are not welcome at the Kirchentag. Can you tell us something about the background to this?
I know several Christian congregations that are in close contact with messianic congregations. Many Christians regularly attend our services and maintain personal contacts with us. There is little interest from the official churches. Even so, some pastors and pastors try to build contacts on a personal level. As far as I know, the location in Baden-Württemberg is the best. This was also shown by the last church convention in Stuttgart. The messianic congregations were unloaded. Nevertheless, hundreds of Kirchentag visitors came to our open service to express their solidarity with us. (By the way, there is a DVD of this historical event!) And for the first time in post-war Germany there was a panel discussion between official representatives of Judaism, the Church and the messianic Jews.
Do you have the impression and the hope that something will change?
Definitely! When the State of Israel was founded in 1948, many Christians did not want to see it from the start. But over time, several have seen this as a prophecy fulfilled. I think even to the fact that after seventeen centuries the messianic movement has been born again, Christians cannot remain indifferent. Otherwise the Christian Church is again in danger of taking the disastrous paths.
You have shed light on Judaism, Messianic Judaism, in a series of programs on gospel radio. You give lectures, are in seminars. How important are these contacts in the area of the churches?
I believe the Christian churches and congregations should slowly understand that they have been grafted on the noble Jewish olive tree. And that without the Jewish background they will never understand the Bible in its original meaning. I see a large part of my mandate in doing this educational work.
For a long time the church saw itself as the true Israel, we know replacement theology with all the terrible facets. In your opinion, has the church really changed or is this old anti-Semitism still slumbering under the pews?
I believe that Christian anti-Semitism is far from defeated in one form or another. For this, a new approach to the biblical texts must be created. Christians have to stop reading the so-called "Old Testament" through the glasses of the "New Testament", but vice versa. The pastors and theologians have to study Jewish exegetics and hermeneutics and the “normal mortals” have to be preached and inoculated to love the people of God.
What is the difference to the so-called liberation theology, which is especially popular with Arab Christians - e.g. Palestinian Christians?
Liberation theology is very popular among Palestinian Christians today. The roots lie in the old replacement theology. It is convenient to see in Jesus not a Jew but a freedom fighter or even a Palestinian. The values of such theology are not biblical, but the values of the Enlightenment. Most Christians who support the so-called liberation theology are not aware of this. You are unfortunately misled by the propaganda.
If one considers the differences between Judaism and Christianity and the messianic congregations as a kind of link, in which areas is there the greatest lack of understanding?
I think the Messianic Jews are ready to accept Christians as their brothers and sisters and to fellowship with them. On the other hand, I observe how Christians find it difficult to understand that the messianic Jews have their calling and their own path in God's plan of salvation. They always want to make better Christians out of us. The greatest schism (separation) in church history, the separation between Christians and Jews, can only be countered through our common belief in Yeshua. The leitmotif is: Yeshua is our shalom (Ephesians 2:14). I hope that on this basis cooperation will be revived and that the unity between messianic Jews and Christians will become a characteristic of the kingdom of God for many people.
There are Christians who see the so-called “New Testament” as the only part of the Bible that they have to observe that applies to them. Some even only accept the Gospels. But the root is missing. What do you say to such people? Has there been a change here in recent years? And if so, in which direction?
This development is not new. As early as the 3rd century AD, Marcion proclaimed: the God of the Old Testament is evil and the God of the New Testament is gracious. And he had had a great success among many Christians with his view of the Bible. Jesus, his disciples and Paul did not have a New Testament. The Hebrew Bible was her belief and it was perfectly sufficient for her to walk upright with God. We all have to understand that today. The New Testament is important, but without the writings of TeNaCH (the so-called Old Testament) we only have part of God's history with man. The story has to be read from the beginning. If a tree is cut from its roots, it dies. For me it is a miracle that Christianity is still alive at all. Probably God has a special grace for Christians! The Gentile Christian community is grafted into the Jewish olive tree and lives from its fatness. The foundations of the Christian faith come from the people of Israel. Judaism is the root of Christianity. Without Judaism there would be no Christianity. Christianity is inconceivable without the gifts listed in Romans 9: 4-5: from the father-child relationship with God to the glory of God to the covenants, above all the new covenant to which Christianity refers. Also included are the Torah (the law), worship, the promises and the fathers, who are fathers of faith for the Christian faith. And last but not least, Jesus Christ, without whom Christianity would not exist. Christians need to be aware of these Jewish roots.
What is your hope for the future in the cooperation, the coexistence of the individual religions, but also especially for Judaism and Christianity?
I believe that Jews and Christians need to move closer together. As Christians and Jews we belong together. I am now talking about a conversation on an equal footing, an open conversation without fear of being absorbed. And we absolutely have to bring the Messiah question into this conversation. As a result, we won't actually be inventing much new. Many Jewish scholars have not shied away from talking to Christians about the Messiah Yeshua. Jeshua was no stranger to such well-known Jewish people as Leo Beck, Schalom ben Chorin, David Fluider, Martin Buber, Joseph Klausner, Schalom Asch, Pinchas Lapide. We have to draw from such experiences together.
In what areas can Jews and Christians learn from each other?
I think we need to talk about how unity between Christians and Messianic Jews can be practiced. I once formulated the steps to a unified community as follows:
• Deep inward feeling of the need of those who are lost without Jesus. In Romans 9: 1-3 Paul describes the deep, incessant pain in his innermost being when, as a Jew, he thinks of his fellow nationals. Many of them reject Messiah Yeshua, who came to them first as their Savior (Matthew 1:21). Are we suffering from the unbelief of the Jewish people wherever they are?
• Intercession: The deep pain caused by the unbelief of the Jews does not paralyze Paul, but activates him to intercede. At this point I thought of the earnest incessant prayer that Jews all over the world would believe in their Messiah. Everyone checks what they can personally contribute to it.
• Practical help and financial support. Practical help in the form of a sponsorship for a messianic leader or a messianic congregation. Financial Aid: Messianic churches are not rich. Most communities consist mainly of Harz IV recipients who have to live on their money and cannot support the community. As a result, many congregations lack the money for activities. With a few exceptions, messianic leaders also have to look for a job to ensure their livelihood.
• Joint theological work In my theology studies, in conversations and exchanges with pastors and Christian leaders, I am repeatedly asked the following questions: What is a messianic theology? How do you classify the modern messianic movement in terms of salvation history? How important are the Jewish roots of their faith to Christians? Messianic Jews and Christians must practice theology together and struggle for the truth together so that the Jewish dimension, which has not been taken into account for centuries, takes its place again in the theology of the whole Church. But the unified community is not a one-way street. As Messianic Jews we have a mission towards our Christian brothers and sisters. I thought of two things: To tell the Christian communities about their Jewish “roots” and to paint a Jewish Messiah in front of them. Through this we come more and more to the unity in Yeshua intended by God. It is our job as messianic Jews to help Christians fight the ugly roots of anti-Semitism in the church, to tear out the roots of replacement theology and to awaken an understanding of evangelism among the people of Israel.
What can “Gentile Christian” churches learn from Messianic Jews?
1. Understanding Jesus as a Jew.
2. To understand the Bible as a unit and the so-called To appreciate the "Old Testament".
3. Reading the New Testament from a Jewish perspective.
4. To discover the Hebrew exegesis and hermeneutics for oneself and thereby better understand God's word.
You have written a book "The Jews First". What is it about?
This is primarily a theological book. The people of Israel were chosen by God "to be a light to all nations" (Isa. 42: 6). This is the real calling and the goal of the election of Israel to preach the message of the living God to all people. Hence the self-determination of Israel is: Mission to all peoples. This missionary mandate includes above all one's own people (Isa. 9, 2; Acts. 1, 16). Without believing in Yeshua as their Messiah, Jews cannot fulfill their mission to the people. The Christian Church has completely ignored the missionary and eschatological importance of Israel. The consequences were that the Jewish people were either viewed as murderers of God and then treated accordingly, or that (in the best case!) They were evangelized just like all other peoples, regardless of the privileges given only to them by God (see Rom. 9, 4-5). This book reconstructs the biblical understanding of Israel and highlights the importance of evangelism for the people of Israel. Above all, he helps Christians to give Israel the right place in salvation history and to view the evangelism of the people of Israel in the light of the history of mission.
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