Recently Boaz Michael posted some emails he had received and asked for some input on how to respond to them. Here is one of the letters, and my response. I would like to hear how YOU would have responded.
“Hi, I have a question about you people. I’m reform Jewish and not too religious. I have a friend who is not Jewish but wears a yarmulke around, acts like the orthodox and he says I should believe in the Jewish messiah just like him so that I can be “complete”. How can you expect to trick us into believing that? Even though I don’t care that much, it seems wrong to walk around looking like religious Jews and teaching Christian things. He mentioned that you could answer my questions.”
Thank you for your letter. Through your taking the time to write to us with your concerns, it shows me that you are serious about this matter, and I intend on giving you a genuine response.
First, let me say that it is not the intent of our organization (and presumably of your friend) to proselytize Jews—especially to a religion which condemns the righteous Torah of your forefathers. Unlike other organizations who use Jewish-type symbolism only in order to attract unsuspecting Jews for conversion attempts, our motives for Torah-observance are entirely different. Let me share a Scripture with you. The prophet Y’shayahu (Isaiah) says,
“And the foreigners who join themselves to Hashem to serve Him and to love the Name of Hashem to become servants unto Him, all who guard the Sabbath against desecration, and grasp My covenant tightly—I will bring them to My holy mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer; their elevation offerings and their feast-offerings will find favor on My Altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:6-8)
Through this passage Hashem tells us that if we (non-Jews) bind ourselves to Hashem and His covenant (Torah), then we will find favor before Him. Yes, for the last two thousand years Christianity has been a religion in opposition to and in competition with Judaism. There is no question of this. Countless Jewish lives have been lost in the name of “Christianity.” And for us to lure you into a religion which is against the Torah or would lead you to serve “gods whom you have not known” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 13) would be unthinkable.
The reason we do these things is not as a lure, but out of our genuine desire to express our devotion to the Almighty. And in our expression, if we are truly desiring to serve the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, how can it help but look Jewish? When we begin to follow the ways of Torah, the expressions of our faith will inevitably have similarities with you and your brothers and sisters. Although we do not deny our belief in our Messiah who himself said “I have not come to do away with the Torah…” (Matthew 5:17), we do not agree with historical Christianity in regard to positions of our relationship with the Jewish people or Torah-observance. We do not wish for you to think we are in any way a threat to our Jewish brothers and sisters. It is our desire that we would all serve Hashem sincerely, rather than seeing one another as a threat. We seek to understand your position, and to act in ways that honor the Name of Hashem, rather than damage it.
The Shmonei also says, “May Your compassion be aroused, Hashem, our G-d, and give goodly reward to all who sincerely believe in Your Name. Put our lot with them forever, and we will not feel ashamed, for we trust in You. Blessed are You, Hashem, Mainstay and Assurance of the Righteous.” This is our prayer—that Hashem would put our lot with your people and that we might serve Him in love and in fear throughout our days.
Last, we have an open-door policy. If you wish to continue dialogue on this subject or any other, we welcome your comments, your criticism and your insights. I hope that this might give you at least a small glimpse into understanding where we are coming from, and hope that it helps you understand your friend a little better. Again, we appreciate you taking the time to write to us. Please feel free to contact us anytime.