Rediscovering One’s Jewish Heritage

File:George Allen official portrait.jpgA rather touching story from Arutz Sheva:

In 2006, Republican George Allen of Virginia found out that his grandfather – his mother’s father – was Jewish. Allen’s mother had hidden this fact for years and the revelation came out during a conversation between mother and son, on the backdrop of his 2006 re-election campaign, during which Allen’s ancestry had become a hot topic of conversation. . . .

Rabbi Efraim Mintz, executive director of Chabad’s Jewish Learning Institute was quoted in the Washington Post as saying about Allen: “His mother’s Jewish; we definitely view him wholeheartedly as a fellow Jew.” He added that “the fact that George feels fully comfortable with his Jewish identity and his Jewish origin sends a strong message to the community.” Following Allen’s speech, Rabbi Mintz presented him with a shofar. Allen, who was visibly moved, blew the shofar. As Baila Olidort, editor in chief of the Lubavitch News Service, remarked: “For someone who has never blown shofar before, he did well.”

What’s particularly interesting about this is that Mr. Allen is a Presbyterian, and yet R. Mintz accepts him wholeheartedly as a Jew. I suspect that this is at least in part because Mr. Allen did not come with a tract in his hand, but rather by asking questions about his heritage.

Quite a few people come into the Messianic movement because they discover that they had a Jewish grandparent or great-grandparent. Some are Jewish under Jewish law (i.e., by being able to trace it through their mother), many are not. We have found repeatedly that when a Messianic Jew or Christian of Jewish birth presumes on the Jewish community or uses their heritage as a soapbox from which to proselytize Jews into what is perceived as a Gentile religion, doors naturally close. But when we invest ourselves in the community, buying kosher food, taking part in the traditions, and demonstrating visible acts of love without demanding the same in return, doors open.

That’s how the Apostles lived. When they went door-to-door, they did so as Jews to Jews. They went to the Temple regularly and offered sacrifces. They kept the traditions of their area and/or sect of Judaism (albeit with modification due to their knowledge of Yeshua). They took donations from Jew and grafted-in Gentile alike to assist those in Jerusalem to demonstrate their fidelity to and investment in the Jewish homeland.

The Holy One is rebuilding a bridge that both sides thought burnt down permanently thousands of years ago. There will be those on both sides who don’t want that bridge rebuilt, but it will be “not by power or by might but by My Spirit.”
Setting politics aside, I think it would be a wonderful idea if we offered Mr. Allen a word of support and encouragement just as we would for anyone who had rediscovered and embraced their Jewishness.

Shalom

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