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
Whether they are good people or bad people, Jesus forgives everybody and gives them a 2nd chance to live their lives. Jesus is great.
Thank you, Chaim, for this fair, informative and up-lifting article. We live in Australia, and having asked by a Christian friend to explain Easter to a group of Iraqi students at a BBQ, I found my self ignorant to what Biblical Scriptures say about the topic. I went on a discourse about the hollowed easter egg and the bunny, and how they relate to the death and ressurection of Jesus the Messiah. This event sparked an interest in me to seek truth in scripture, where we discovered Passover (Pasach), and other Hebrew Feasts that Elohim gave Israel. A few years had past and we are now part of a slowly growing and exciting Hebrew Roots movement in our city – studying Torah, observing Sabbath, learning Hebrew, and growing in fear and love of YAHWEH. Our Christian friends think we’ve lost our salvation and our Jewish friends think we’re weird . Our hope is that more Christians and Jews will see and shema that The Lion (of the tribes of Judah) and The Lamb (of the tribes of Israel) are the same – and he is Yeshua (Ha Mashiach). Shalom!
I was born in Cuba. When i becamed 10 months old my parents moved to Israel to escape communism. When we got to Israel after about 3 or 4 years my parents becamed Messianic Jews. I lived in a Jewish community, I went to Jewish realigiuos schools, knew Hebrew and had Jewish friends. Then after about 11 years we immigrated to the US because of family gathering. And now I am here in the US. I really miss Israel, it’s culture, tradition, and religion. But I don’t regret it because everything happened for a reason. When i found out that there were Messianic Jews here in the US I felt reasonable again for seeing people that care about Jeshua as a Jew and care and look for the Hebrew language and traditions. Since then my goal was to convert and convince Jews that don’t accept Jeshua as the messiah and to Christians that don’t accept Jesus as a Jew to accept Jeshua as their Messiah and to keep the traditions of the disciples of Jeshua and to rediscover and teach what Moses the greatest prophet has teached to the nation of Israel.
Thanks for sharing this post Chaim Goldberg. Every is equal for Jesus. We should keep doing good things for humanity. Jesus watching all of us.
I want to cm to Isreal to live.i also am a believer .i have a HM here in Texas getting ready to lease out. I want to sell give away everything and just cm start a new life.i have felt like this for years . I dnt have anything left in me except Yeshuah. Let me know if possible what I have to do to cm. Thanks. Heidi
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