By Chaim Goldberg
A few years ago I was asked to produce a short film for the Negev Tourism Office. Specifically, they wanted me to help them make a video advertisement promoting all the sites and attractions in the Israeli desert. So why did they come to me? Because I’m a Messianic Jew, and they wanted the video to target Christian tourists around the world. They needed someone who spoke “Christianese,” and who would know how to market what they were selling to that specific audience.
I remember arriving at the bus station in Beersheva to meet the crew I’d be working with on the film. Someone from the tourism office was there to pick me up. I was a bit surprised to see they sent an Orthodox Jewish woman. I could tell by the way she was dressed that she was religious. She couldn’t have been more welcoming, and she was so excited to take me around to all of the historical sites that would be featured in our video.
After a couple of hours in the car together, visiting everything from Abraham’s Well to various war memorials, we became chatty and seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. I got up the courage to ask her how she felt about this project we were working on, and specifically, how she felt about working with a Jew who believed in Yeshua. Her answer rings in my ear to this day: “Chaim,” she said, “Some Israelis hate the religious. Some hate the secular. But everyone hates you.”
THE MOST HATED PEOPLE ON EARTH
My friend and colleague, Ron Cantor, has a book called Messianic Jews, The Most Hated People On Earth. The title always amused me, but here I was, experiencing just that. This woman was was being very honest with me, telling me how people really felt.
Recently, former IDF Chief Gabi Ashkenazi, gave a rare interview where he was asked what the greatest threat to Israel is. His response was, “Internal divisions over Judaism.” I guarantee you, he wasn’t thinking of Messianic Jews. He was thinking of the ultra-Orthodox versus the more ‘secular’ or mainstream Israeli Jews.
But as polarized as those two sides are, there is nothing that can unite them quicker than their mutual disdain for Jews who believe in Jesus. To both groups, we are considered missionaries (a very dirty word in Israel), trying to destroy Judaism and forcing Jews to abandon their faith and become Christians. We are the new Hitler, but instead of sending them to gas-chambers, we’re trying to steal their souls.
Think I’m exaggerating? The Chief Rabbi of the city of Ashdod staged a rally outside a Messianic Jewish congregation in 2011 and said those exact words. “Hitlers!” he called us. I should know; I was there, and was nearly attacked by the angry crowd. Were it not for the police officer who escorted me away, the footage I shot of the inflammatory rally would never have been shown on Israeli national television.
LEAVE US ALONE
Modern – day Israel sprang back to life after the darkest period in our people’s history. The Holocaust was a human catastrophe unparalleled in its horror. The Jewish people had been driven from their homes by the Nazis. And now, at the end of it all, they finally had a home of their own—their biblical, historical homeland no less. They were safe in Israel. They could finally rebuild the Jewish nation after two millennia in exile.
Most Jews just want to be left alone. They’ve been fighting Arabs, literally, since the day of Israel’s declared independence. Wars and intifadas and terrorism never cease. So the last thing Israeli Jews want to deal with are fellow Israeli Jews, now trying to convince them that Yeshua (the perceived “Christian God”) is actually their Jewish Messiah. They just want to be left alone, in peace. Thus, the conflict for Messianic Jews. We are compelled, and in fact, commanded to share our faith in love. And yes, we know our friends and family here in Israel are so loathed to hear such “Good News.”
Moving to Israel has been the greatest challenge of my life. Being thousands of miles away from my loved ones. Trying to adjust to a new culture. Trying to learn a new language. Trying to navigate new government bureaucracies from the driver’s license office to the tax authority. Trying to make new friends and fit in with a new community. Trying to find a good job, with my limited Hebrew. Trying to survive the summer heat of the Middle East. Trying not to give in to fear when war and terrorism rages around you.
The list of challenges are endless. But the greatest challenge by far has been realizing what an alien I am amongst my own people. Realizing how much ignorance there is about the Bible; both the Old and New Testaments. Realizing how much hostility there is at the very mention of the name Yeshua. Realizing how ostracized I am, even in the midst of the most ostracized group on Earth…the Jews. When looking at it through the eyes of men, we, the Messianic Jews, are the most hated people on Earth. The anti-Semites hate us for being Jewish.
The Jews hate us for preaching an unfamiliar form of Judaism. But when looking at it through the eyes of God, we are actually quite the opposite. We are in fact the most loved and blessed people on Earth. We are twice chosen! We were first chosen to be part of the special tribe known as ‘the Jews’ whom God set apart for a special relationship. Secondly, we were chosen to have our eyes opened to the truth of God’s salvation in the form of Yeshua.
While so many stumble around in blindness and darkness and angst, we have our fulfillment. We have our forgiveness. We have our Yeshua!
So don’t feel sorry for us. We Israeli, Messianic, Jews. But please, do join us in prayer. We need you to stand with us, as we persevere to share the Gospel with the miraculously reborn nation of Israel. That is God’s heart. That is our collective privilege. And so we carry on.
Chaim Goldberg is an Emmy award-winning television producer, previously with Fox, NBC and CBN. He is now the Director of Media for Maoz Israel Ministries in Tel Aviv. To learn more, follow him on Twitter @ChaimGoldberg
Used by permission. See the original story here