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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More About Antisemitism And It's Reasons

Human nature being what it is, it is not difficult to demonize "the other".The doctrines chosen by the Church were intended to be a way to eliminate the Jewish people, it also helped to make sense of the various waves of antisemitism and persecution since then. It goes in cycles but the underlying justification for the past 2000 years plus..has been based on eliminating the Jew justified by their righteous belief that they are placating their deity ( by whatever name called).

The believers of the polytheistic religions of the ancient world were somewhat "used" to their political leaders telling them what gods were to be venerated during their rule and which deity their ruler was representative of in human form. Adding a new deity or giving a new name to an ancient deity whose belief was already established was not that big a deal for most of the Gentile population. Tanakh recorded that any time such a practice of a Jewish king telling the Jews that they were to worship a foreign deity...the entire Jewish people suffered, and most often at the very hands of the people whose deity they had left God to serve! That lesson is told right in our Jewish Bible, the same one the Christians have as an adaptation of their Old Testament, yet they rarely see this in the story because their New Testament also imposes topsy-turvy meaning to the context of the stories in so many places.
Christians did not want their flock to know the Paschal lamb represented a false man-god of Egypt, so they changed it into a sacrifice for sin to justify human sacrifice (or deicide depending on whether or not they are calling Jesus God in human form). Rather than his blood expiating sin, the blood on the door was an act of defiance showing the Egyptians that the life force (blood) representing their deity was spilled by the Hebrew slaves and their god was powerless over the God of Israel to do a thing about it. It was an act of rejection of the gods of Egypt and alliance to the God of Israel, and that’s in the Torah in Exodus in context. Rather than show that Isaiah was slamming a man for calling himself a man/god, Christian dogma personifies and makes a proper name for their Latin translations word for star and turns that story into something about a fall of angels (no where mentioned in that narrative at ALL) and justifies creating of the "name" Lucifer for a demi-god of the underworld Devil. (That isn’t in the Tanakh but fits the underworld described in Plato’s narrative recalling the ancient the Myth of Er) Every aspect of Jewish belief is given a new spin. Things that I once thought must have been fabricated outright I later discovered were beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This was the longstanding battle for souls going on; the Hellenized Jews, those who had become apostate to Judaism, desired to entice other Jews to worship as the Greeks that they believed superior in philosophy and knowledge, so they created texts that tried to say, see,this is what it was supposed to have been all along. However, reality was that those beliefs were identical to the beliefs and practices that the Torah demonized (Baal, Tammuz and Mithras worship and customs play most frequently)
Once one begins an in-depth study of the religious practices and beliefs of all the peoples surrounding the Jews in the centuries just preceding the beginning of Christianity, one can see these developments take place. It was a concerted effort to do away with Israel and Judaism. When Hadrian renamed Judea, Palestina, a Latinized version of the name of the Philistines, it was only done to insult the Jews. The Philistines had long since completely assimilated into the surrounding peoples, and the only vestiges of those ancient Agean seafaring people were artifacts and place names by the year 135 when Hadrian changed the name of Judea. The Philistines were not only the ancient enemies of the Jews, but the Jewish people had demonized their practices and deities to the extent that the name of their primary deity became the name of a type of demon. Beelzebub is a name now associated with evil or the Christian devil..but it had it's origina as the Philistines' "Lord of the Flies".
Do you think that Christians would be focused on Jews at all if their doctrine was not created to replace and do away with the Jewish people?If you are indoctrinated to believe that the eternal covenant was replaced by a covenant of belief in a Jew as a deity, you then begin to see the people who hold to the Torah precept that God condemns the very notion of men as deities as blasphemy against your deity.If you are indoctrinated to believe that Jews are blinded to your god and that the eternal covenant of Israel has been superseded by a different covenant your perspective is one of the Jew as "the other". If you believe Jews refuse to follow the way of God from that perspective and therefore deserve punishment because of that, you can easily justify any behavior done to Jews.

It is that sort of thinking that fueled the Holocaust. It is that sort of thinking by people in your own communities now that show that Germany was no different than small-town America. Jews everyone are living alongside people who believe that we should suffer torture and death because we do not abandon our God for what they offer.
Or at the very least, turn your back in apathy when others do so , saying to yourself that, if only they had believed in Jesus, this wouldn‘t have happened to them. History has shown this time and again. Personal encounters with Christians who tell me they love me to try to convince me to abandon my faith for theirs and then turn vicious with insult when I politely decline reveal this, too. Religious Jews believe that abandoning the faith of God through the eternal Torah, the relationship that is believed to have kept Israel alive through all such previous attempts, would be worse than anything that anyone could do OR HAS done to Jews.
I believe that there is sincerity in the heart of many Christians when they claim that they try to convert us out of love and concern for our souls, but it is a misguided love at best. If you love someone, you would not ask them to abandon the very thing that makes them who they are and the thing most dear to them, and my faith in God is most dear to me. The path of Judaism is such a part of me that I will never abandon it.
When we refuse to recognize their "truths" and abandon Judaism to embrace their replacement theology, history has shown that this love often allows many Christians to act out in hatred or turn a blind eye to others who do because of a belief that is repeated from church pulpits, "Jews deserve to be punished for rejecting Jesus and only when they come to embrace him will their suffering end." Not only have I heard this sentiment come straight from the mouths of Christian clergy in person and on television, I’ve read this virtually hundreds of times from people who professed their Christian belief all over Yahoo in the past 10 years. If you think this is not a socially acceptable attitude among a significant number of Christians, one has only to look at the enormous success of the "Left Behind" series and their horrid video game that has children at their TV sets, torturing the Jews and Muslims and other "non-believers" who were not taken up in their "rapture".
Jewish philosopherm, Emil Fackenheim, who spoke several years ago at the West End Synagogue, put it this way. "The Holocaust was the culmination of a 2,000-year campaign by the Christian world against the Jews. It began early on with them telling us, `You cannot live here as Jews.' And in country after country, they forced us to convert. Later the message became, `You cannot live here.' And in country after country, they forced us to leave. Hitler's message was, `You cannot live.' And they exterminated one-third of our people." Christianity was a rallying cry to justify what the Nazis were doing in Europe. Every soldier wore a belt buckle emblazoned with "God is with us" in German. To deny this abuse and perversion of the "Great Commission" is to deny the darkest chapter in Christianity’s history. I bring this up not to condemn Christianity, but to condemn using ANY religion’s tenets to justify demonizing "the other" and declare that any other people deserve eternal torture and punishment. And my HOPE is that by TEACHING YOUR Christian children how your religion was so HIJACKED in the past in Nazi controlled Europe, that you may better guard against the possibility of it ever happening again.
Right now in the world I see fundamentalist Islam using the self-same methods to entice their followers to believe in the rigtheousness of the violence they perpetrate on civilians.
My spirit soars in hope for humanity when I see Christians working together to speak out against those of their own fold who try to justify intolerance and bigotry with their religion.
When Christian groups form to combat the Wesboro Baptist Church fringe element, or when Christian groups speak out against the white supremacist Christian Identity movement, that speaks of a path of righteousness. When Christians promote the "Left Behind" series and encourage children at public schools to read them, promote an agenda of divisivness that all who don’t worship Jesus are of the devil and deserving of punishment, that tells this Jew, they are the kind of Christian that would have been easily swayed by the message of the "positive Christianity" of Nazi party. It was largely Christians who were their downfall, but make no mistake, it was largely a Christian fervor that allowed that atrocity to happen in the first place.May a narrow fundamentalist belief that others deserve torture or punishment NEVER again take hold in the world as it did in my parents generation. Already I’m witnessing Jew hate increasing to a degree I never hoped to see in my life and I’m witnessing people justify suffering in Israel once again, because of a "refusal to accept Jesus".
It was "godlessness" of the Communists that were the greatest political enemies of the Nazis and they focused on that by presenting themselves as the "positive Christian" alternative. They had the support of both Catholic and Protestant leaders and across Europe, where they took over areas formerly occupied by the Communists they were hailed as being sent by God to restore God to their communities. I ALSO recognize that it was LARGELY CHRISTIANS who were Hitler's DOWNFALL and I thank God for that! I do not intend to demonize Christianity in this answer..I intend to look at the harsh reality of what happened so that by examining it..people can RECOGNIZE when any leader tries to use ANY religion to incite hatreds and injustice to any group.
While there were Christian religious protests and movements against the Nazi party, it did not represent the majority opinion and they had often been former supporters who came to a realization too late of what atrocities they actually enabled. As one pastor's life gives witness: On 5th June 1945 pastor Martin Niemöller gave a press conference in Naples. He admitted that he had offered to join the German Navy in 1939. He also confessed that he had "never quarrelled with Hitler over political matters, but purely on religious grounds". This resulted in a savage attack on Niemöller from those newspapers that had presented him as a symbol of resistance to Hitler's government. In 1946 Niemöller wrote a poems that illustrated the role that the Church played in the development of Nazi Germany:First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Now back to my own words. The presence of the Jews in the world and that of the eternal covenant still before their presence attests to the futility of a claim I've seen repeated quite often in Y/A, that it was "nailed to the cross". From ancient times until the present, every attempt to obliterate the eternal covenant and the people of the covenant has failed. It shall continue to fail. If nothing else is believed from the Tanakh, that message is crystal clear thousands of years after the beginning of this covenant, when Tanakh states until heaven and earth and the sun and stars pass away, that’s what it meant. Each time Israel strayed from the covenant for adoption of foreign beliefs, turned their heads when wicked kings were perverting Torah, bad things happened to the Jewish people, often at the hands of people who were supporting the very causes and beliefs that Jews had forsaken Torah to take up. This has been a clear message to those of Israel who have read Torah in each generation.
The Tanakh represents God as the Creator of all humanity and every human can connect directly to God without need for mediator, and in fact, explicitly forbids praying to or through anything on earth or in heaven before God. The righteous of all nations merit blessing and a place in the world to come. The Christian notion is that unless one believes in a particular manner and prays to or through Jesus, they merit eternal torture in a fiery underworld hell "ruled" by a demi-god of that underworld, the devil.The terms of the covenant between God and Israel mean that in every generation, this does not change. Jews have often been demonized and persecuted because as a people, we do not and shall not ever bow to or pray through any man/god deity. That fact is not going to change. You would think that nearly after the covenant people saying this to the world for 5000 years they would get it. Prophecy in the Tanakh tells us that one day the world will get it and everyone will recognize each other as brethren and all know God. The state of the world and the existence of missionaries are a de-facto admission that the Messianic age has not arrived. No one will need a sales pitch to know when it happens. Jews aren’t awaiting anyone like Jesus since the eternal covenant and the prophetic vision of the Davidic Messiah are as different between the two religions as the very nature of God is. Right now, humanity is living as a dysfunctional family that doesn’t yet recognize that we are all family, even those who don’t want the Jewish part of their family to be around. We’re not going away so you might as well get used to it.
The importance of acknowledging that passages in the New Testament exist that demonize Jews for being of the Jewish faith is really is not as much about concern of angering the Jews, but MORE so about what has been done and said to Jews in every generation since those texts appeared. While it is upsetting to see Jewish belief demonized in a book supposed to be holy, the critical thing to recognize is that those passages have been used and continue to be used to Jews to justify antisemitism.

Ever since the first appearance of the New Testament, Jews have been persecuted with violence in waves every few decades or so, by groups of fundamentalist believers who use these passages to justify that they are doing God's will.From the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to the Blood Libel charges, to the ghettos of Italy, to the Black Plague charges, to acts of violence inspired by Martin Luther's On Jews and Their Lies, to the Pogroms to the Shoah, those passages were used. My own Great Grandfather Rabbi Yoshpe was beaten by a mob led by priest. They had just left Easter services, and then the angry mob drug him to his doorstep and beat him to death in front of wife and children because he was a Rabbi. This was several decades before the Nazis arrived on the scene. Is there any doubt their acts were not fueled by the charges that Jews killed their savior?

In addition, do not forget the hundreds of speeches of Adolph Hitler who peppered them with references to the New Testament. He used them to great effect to justify the antisemitism and his "Final Solution" among a German populace who believed themselves to be God fearing Christians. He was enormously popular because he spoke against his greatest political enemies he characterized as Godless Communists. While those Communists in Russia had also victimized Jews, the German Propaganda was that they were allied with the Communists to destroy Christianity!

I will only post a couple of the hundreds of speeches I have read with similar reference to Christianity in Hitler's speeches: "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... "And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."
Adolf Hitler, in his speech on April 12,1922 [Note, "brood of vipers" appears in Matt. 3:7 & 12:34. John 2:15 depicts Jesus driving out the money changers (adders) from the temple.]
Hitler addressed the world at the passion plays of Oberammergau in 1942
He said: "his blood be on us and our children... [Matt 27:25], maybeI’m the one who must execute this curse... I do no more than joinwhat has been done for more than 1,500 years already. Maybe I renderChristianity the best service ever!" (Adolph Hitler)
Lastly, take some time to research the q's and a's asked of Jews in Yahoo Answers and you will often see antimerism directed to Jews often using those same passages.

In Yahoo Answers we have people even trying to turn commandments forbidding the leaving of Torah as a topsy turvy justification for condemning us because we have not! Take this one example of many:
"The NT clarifies that all true believers are now considered God's chosen people: this includes Messianic Jews and gentile Christians. Since unbelieving Jews have refused to accept the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-36) brought by Jesus (Matt. 26:26-28), they are condemned by God (Deut. 28) and are no longer considered "chosen." (In fact, Deut. 28:62-63 explains why God permitted the Holocaust: because the Jewish people have disobeyed Him by refusing their Messiah.)"
Thankfully, when that comment was made, both Jew and many Gentiles present loudly condemned that attempt to justify one of the worst atrocities of humanity as rabidly antisemitic. The scary thing is there were also others, believing themselves to be God-fearing and decent, who support that view. And still, people ask HOW could the Germans have allowed it.
Yahoo Answers is a good place to learn how.
THAT's why Jews see Jew hate in the New Testament..because Christians in large numbers HAVE seen it and ACTED on it repeatedly and they still quote us those passages today. You may also better learn what it is Jews really believe from a Biblical context by navigating through http://www.whatjewsbelieve.org/
I'm not here to demonize Christians or the faith Christians have thorugh their new covenant of the Christian Bible. Judaism doesn't teach a thing about Christian dogma; it is simply insignificant to the eternal covenant of faith of Israel. It isn't a part of Jewish teaching at all..any more than the Quran is to a Christian.
Christianity appears to require justifying it's beliefs by negating and turning Judaism topsy-turvy. Judaism is a complete and fulfilling faith without Christianity. I cannot see the opposite to be the case since the first 2/3 of Christianity's holy scriptures are an ADAPTATION of the Tanakh.Countless times, those who have ACTED on Jew hate have justified and given reason for their actions of Jew hate on those passages. It is not for me to decide their reasons FOR them.
I am thankful that a majority of Christians do NOT take those passages at face value and use them in that manner. I am thankful to know and connect to many Christians who do not do this. I pray that more Christians will become aware of how those passages have been used for 2000 so that such abuses stop. It is important to recognize that for any belief system, not just Christianity, religious fundamentalism can be used to incite people to do uncivilized things in a civilized nation. The Christian majority populace in Europe who gave him massive popular support did so because they believed they were also serving the interests of THEIR faith. If millions can be brainwashed by such things, we need to KNOW HOW it happened! Denial that he used Christianity is so dangerous in my view. Denial that people are using Christian doctrine today to create and spread antisemitism is dangerous, too.

For any Christians reading this, it is my sincere hope that now that you've become aware of the history and the antisemitism that exists in the New Testament that you will help to dispel the hate through your own individual actions and then help to inspire others.

http://www.messiahtruth.com/anti.html <>

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Is that REALLY why there is Jew hate?

This is another essay that first appeared on my Yahoo360 page on March 21, 2006. I repost it here in response to a question I answered today in Yahoo Answers, once again seeing people who don't appear to believe they're harboring any antisemitism, USING some canards of the antisemite to try to explain why Jews are hated.

One of them was that Jews keep to themselves with our strange customs...well that only describes a very small percentage of Jews if you're talking about a somewhat cloistered environment, and the worst antisemitism the world has known happened to the MOST assimilated group of Jews in the world first..in Germany. Now here is the essay as it appeared there, addressing other forms of stereotype and bigotry that some don't recognize as such and perhaps why:

Every time I think I’ve heard all the excuses or stories to justify Jew hate, I’m amazed all over again. Despite years of study of trying to figure out why there is bigotry in the world particularly Jew hate and hate against blacks, the two forms I’ve seen first hand the closest, I’m coming across new versions of propaganda daily. These two types of stories may not be new to you, but they were to me. They also show me how our human nature is so easily led to believe tales that can seen quite plausible at first glance and help bigotry to grow when the tales are passed along from people who aren’t intentionally promoting prejudice.
First, the story that inspired me to pen this today: It came from someone that I view as intelligent and not one prone to promotion of bigotry or hate, yet his telling of this helps to clearly show how bias can grow from mistaken notions and even become accepted by people who do not like bigotry! He made mention that the Germans hated the Jews of Germany not so much because of religious differences but because during the Depression the Jews were much better off than the gentile Germans and would not “ share” their wealth as Germans. They were indifferent to the poor gentiles and only took care of their own.. Now, in his assuming that this was true to begin with, that the gentiles of Germany were all poor and the vast majority of Jews were all very wealthy and that the hate was from jealousy and from the greed of the wealthy Jew, he fell prey to many false stereotypes; so many that I was even hesitant in the conversation to start listing all the problems wrong with that assumption. Instead, I made mention rather feebly of the fact that the vast majority of the Jews of Germany suffered equally in the failing economy of Europe. I was rather dumbfounded at seeing these words from someone I thought educated and someone who did not believe he harbored an antisemitic bone in his body.
Here I shall try to address a few other misconceptions, just in case there are other people out there who think similarly. While there WERE wealthy Jews in Germany, there were statistically still far greater number of wealthy Gentiles, who were far less philanthropic toward their fellow Germans. Don’t take my word on this. I’m not going to provide various historic resources in this essay because it’s primarily based on my memory of things I’ve read over many years, in books, magazines, and on the internet. I’m sure it would not be difficult to ascertain the statistics from a reputable site on the percentages of various groups and their economic status. Then as now, the greatest wealth in the world is not in the hands of the Jews despite the propaganda. The Jews of Germany were in fact, quite philanthropic to their nation in the years before Hitler took power, this despite the fact that Germany’s wealthy Jews had already been supporting attempts to save hundreds of thousands of very poor Eastern European Jews from the many pogroms that had been raging for already 40 years. Yes, many of the wealthy Jewish Germans did only concentrate on helping Jews and saving Jews and purchasing land in Eretz Yisrael starting in the 1880s, because NO ONE ELSE WOULD LIFT A FINGER to stop the hatred and very real persecution that led to the Holocaust.
Because of the dire straits of the Jewish populace in Europe in the 19th century and early 20th century, German Jewish business owners were often chastised at the time in Jewish newspapers both in Europe and the U.S. for donating more to non-Jewish charities than Jewish charities. Those were the German Jews and the American Jews who had assimilated the most and who were accused of identifying themselves much more with their German nationalism or their American nationalism than with their Jewishness. In the years before the Holocaust it was not uncommon for the more assimilated German Jew to place some of the blame the hatred their Jewish brethren were experiencing on their unwillingness to become more “ modern". It was also hard for the non-Jew to realize that one could be both for one’s own smaller group AND for the larger group as a whole. Even their charity toward non-Jew was often seen as an attempt to “ Judaize” the populace. They were stuck between a rock and a hard place, and could not appease either group. Often when Jewish groups would seek donations for charity and aid for Jews, the wealthy assimilated Jew responded to say that they felt that it was more important to care for the community as a whole rather than just the Jews. They wanted to show the rest of the Germans that they were true Germans like everyone else. After all many of them had roots going back centuries there, too. And Tikkun Olam or Repair of the World doesn’t mean just the Jewish community, and this is what they claimed to be honoring.
Judaism stresses deed over creed and that was a time when no one else would aid Jewish poor other than Jews. Therefore, I cannot fault the wealthy German Jew for first aiding their own. Nor can I see that their so doing even if it were true that most would only aid their own would have implied they were being cruel to the poor gentile or taking away from them unscrupulously. There were many more gentile wealthy and elite who took from both Jew and gentile than greedy Jew, by sheer numbers alone. I don’t justify greed here at all; I’m trying to show that the accusation is yet another way to justify hate. Many Jews were trying unsuccessfully to help their own in a time of growing hate and persecution. The Nazis didn’t create Jew hate and the Depression didn’t either. It had been growing for centuries. Jews were fleeing Europe in the 1800s in massive numbers. This is why all ship's manifests coming from Europe had special quotas to limit Jews specifically, and they kept track by designating them as “ Hebrew”. Go check for yourself at Ellis Island.org on any ships manifest from those days with immigrants from Eastern Europe. Non-Jews did not have their religious status designated.
The Depression allowed for the wealthy Jew to be put in a position where no matter what he did, he could not justify his existence in the mind of the antisemite. In trying to lend a hand to give to non-Jewish poor, he was accused of Judaizing and propagandizing to undermine Germany. If he chose to only help his fellow Jew, he was accused of being against gentiles! Another thing not taken into consideration in accepting the notion that wealthy German Jewish behavior was provoking a backlash to greed ignores that in the Depression, many poor German Jewish families and poor Jews from all over Eastern Europe were sometimes kept alive through harsh factory work and Jewish mother wet-nurses to gentile babies from wealthy Christian European families.
This leads to another episode of my running into a seemingly intelligent person who presented me with an absurd notion of Jewish culture and history. History has become so perverse as of late, that upon hearing a woman here in Arkansas try to claim that Jewish women all over Europe and particularly in Germany wouldn’t nurse their own babies and so they farmed them out to poor gentiles rather than be bothered and they didn’t care about their own babies, the other women present didn't even raise an eyebrow. She gave me this bit of “information” when I was discussing breast-feeding with some mutual acquaintances and she overheard me to say I’d nursed my child until he was 2 years old. She expressed shock and said to me that I couldn’t possibly really be Jewish or must have learned that from the non-Jews I lived with here as she never knew Jewish mothers breastfed, and exclaimed, “ None that I’ve EVER heard of did so, especially in my mother’s generation, they think it’s beneath them!” I asked her how many Jewish mothers she knew and she fell silent. I was astounded at this absurd and false tale, an almost opposite portrayal from what I knew to have really happened. I once spoke with a non-Jewish woman of Jewish ancestry at a breastfeeding support group years ago and she told of her grandparents escape from Nazi Europe. She said her mother as a baby shared her grandmother’s breast with the child of a German gentile who grew up to serve in Hitler’s army. She bitterly said that she wished Jewish mothers had not nursed those babies to grow healthy and strong to later persecute and try to kill her grandmother and her children. How ironic that a number of the anti- semites who placed Jews in camps were once suckling at the breast of a Jew! Perhaps this thought enraged them so much that now the story is twisted to make the European Jewish mother image into a cold and uncaring woman. How this contrasts with the other stereotype of the Jewish mother who is overly concerned with every aspect of the life of her children. They can’t seem to make up their mind about what kind of bad mothers Jewish women are, can they? My Jewish grandmother breastfed my father and all his 8 siblings until they were toddler age. That was the common thing to do at that time. My maternal Jewish grandmother did not breastfeed but not because she didn’t desire to do so. My Jewish mother breastfed me and my brother In fact, with my own extended family, it is the Jewish babies who were almost exclusively the one’s who were breastfed rather than the babies born to the mothers who either converted to Christianity or who were Christians who married the Jewish men in the family. I never even bothered to think about such differences until I was presented with such an absurd bigoted statement. I’ve never polled or done studies to see if breast feeding had any corelation to religion, but I knew that such a claim that Jewish women did not breastfeed was utterly absurd.
Observant Jewish mothers would never have allowed their babies to be nursed by women who did not eat a kosher diet. In communities where Jew and gentile lived side by side, I am sure it was not an uncommon thing for a Christian woman to wet-nurse a Jewish child. However, this incensed the Church; Pope Gregory XIII in 1581 in his list of conditions that he commanded a Jew must be submitted to the Inquisition included the act of having a wet-nurse empty their milk after having taken the Eucharist. (Like it should be a surprise that a Jewish mom wouldn’t want her baby eating the body and blood of Jesus, even if only symbolically?)
All over Europe with Jew and gentile alike, the wealthier, cosmopolitan European woman did not breast feed their own child. Royalty for centuries did not breastfeed their own. This was not a Jewish invention. I do not doubt that many of the wealthier secular Jewish German women who were trying to assimilate to fit in with the upper classes adopted the practices of their social peers and had someone else breast feed their child rather than ruin their figure, but even in that instance I cannot imagine that the job would be preferentially given to a gentile woman (I wonder if this too will be made into discrimination against the gentile to justify their hate, eh?) The kosher diet, which was seen as “ cleaner” than the diets of many very poor gentiles was also why the poor Jewish wet-nurse was so highly sought out over the poor gentile wet nurse among the wealthy cosmopolitan European woman who at that time was being taught that such a thing was left to what they sometimes called the “ vulgar masses”. And the poor wet nurse was more often than not from a religious or Orthodox family. . My very own grandmother was one such Jewish wet nurse but not in Germany, in Slonim, Poland for a time. This had been an established practice long before the Great Depression. My grandmother luckily was able to leave in 1920. I have a brief story about that in another essay.
I don't tell this narrative to point out that Jewish wet nurses were somehow superior or more caring. I have no reason to assume they were much different than any other poor mother who had to supplement her family’s meager means by giving nourishment of her own body and sometimes taking away from literally the mouth of her own flesh and blood. The poor wet nurse if she was not getting adequate nutrition and fluids risked not having enough milk for her own offspring as the child she was being paid to nurse had to come first. And not every woman, Jew or gentile, who wet nursed another's child was poor and did it for money but fed the child of another who could not do so, simply because they were doing what had to be done to ensure the life of a fellow human.
I bring up these stories to illustrate that in trying to justify hatred, often quite absurd notions are used and with enough time and telling, start to become viewed by intelligent people as plausible. This is human nature. I’m sure there are things I’ve been told about aspects of other cultures that have been quite mistaken, in fact, since I’ve met some traditional Native American Indians, I know it for a fact. But I do try to educate myself and try to use a bit of reasoning to see if what is being said to me is congruent with the larger picture.
In the instance of both these stories, the wealthy German Jewish greed as the justification for Jew hate there, and the Jewish woman who was cold and farmed out her babies for the gentile poor to nurse at horrible wages and nearly starving their own child does not fit at all with the known customs or accepted cultural norms, let alone the many personal histories of the Jews who survived that time. They’re simply excuses to be used to deflect accountability and obfuscate the more deep-seated reasons that have been passed down for generations.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Question of Identity

Because there are groups and individuals who wish to purposely misrepresent Jewish identity and confuse others for agendas of either bigotry, identity theft or both, there remains much confusion among many when that is really unnecessary.
Jews are a nation people, Israel (tribal origin) bound by an eternal covenant of the faith (religion) of Judaism. We are like a huge family and only the family through our laws can determine who is a member of it. It is the laws of Judaism, given to the covenant nation, Israel, in the Torah, that determine Jewish identity. It is not a matter of “blood” but of self-determination through the laws of the Jewish people. I know that sounds repetitive but I repeated that because that appears hard for some to grasp.
People related to one another share genetic markers. Jews began as a family, then as a small group of tribes and has remained tribal in nature. However, Jews are NOT considered a race. Jews are not *an* ethnicity. There is simply NO single Jewish ethnicity. Neither ethnicity or race define Jewish identity. I repeat, it is Jewish law that defines Jewish identity.
We are Klal Yisrael, the community of Israel. . **MANY** different and distinctly Jewish cultures and ethnicities have developed over the millennia in Diaspora lands. The Diaspora refers to the Jewish presence outside of Israel after the destruction of the First and Second Temple periods and the Bar Kochba revolt.
There are many ethnicities that are distinctly Jewish. There are the Mizrahi (from the Middle East and North Africa).The Sephardi (Spanish) and the Ashkenazi, (German, Polish, Russian and other Eastern European), the Beta Yisrael of Ethiopia, and the Cochin of India and others, that are different as to cultural practices and foods, but it is the faith and covenant that binds them all together as Klal Yisrael.
The Jewish people are considered both a nation and a religion. Our connection is primarily one of faith (religion) through the covenant of Israel, yet membership is also conferred by birth, through matrilineal descent. One may also become a part of the nation Israel by adoption of the faith of Judaism and formal procedures of conversion.
One who converts to Judaism is considered as FULLY Jewish as one born Jewish and their children are Jews. This has been the case since the times of the Torah.
However, one may technically be a Jew if their mother is a Jew, but apostate to the covenant of Israel and no longer considered a member of the nation if they leave it for the covenant of faith of another religion.

The Jewish nation began as a group of tribes and our connection to one another is still from the perspective of a tribal nation. (example: as the Lakota nation has tribal procedure and law to determine who is a member of their tribe, who is not, who is expelled and who is adopted, so does Judaism)
One born a member of the tribal covenant nation Israel (Jewish) may not be observant or even believe in God and they’re still a full member, a Jew. They may not be a good member or an active member but they’ve not renounced membership by following something ELSE instead of Judaism. An atheist or a secular Jew is not trying to call something ELSE Judaism. That is how one may be an "atheist Jew". Not believing that there is such a thing as deity, any deity is not following a false deity. An atheist Jew may live Jewish ethics and identify with their people, but they did not take on foreign beliefs contradictory to the monotheism of Torah. An atheist may not convert *to* Judaism to become a member of the tribe because an affirmation of faith in the God of Israel is required to JOIN.
Now if one born into the covenant becomes apostate through rejection of the covenant by adoption of another belief contradictory to the covenant, they are still be considered a Jew, but for all intents and purposes, they're not given the status of a member. According to Jewish law they're not counted in a minyan,( the minimum number of adults required for certain prayers and other mitzvot), they can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery, they cannot be given honors to go up to read Torah at a synagogue, and they may not be allowed to speak for the Jewish people. They CAN however, return without formal conversion should they repent of their idolatrous or foreign god worship and then be embraced again as full members. One who has left the Jewish people for the foreign faith of another people must undergo the steps of TESHUVAH , which means repentance and return to the God of Israel. Some groups may require that the individual also requires immersion in the mikveh before being accepted back, but they do not require the formal steps of conversion should the person wish to return.
Jews are in NO way a RACE..other than as members of the human race. For those of you who want to claim Judaism doesn't accept converts as fully Jewish, how about Ruth in the Bible? She was a member of the Moabite nation that was condemned to be separate from God for their evil. However, she was a righteous woman who converted and adopted the faith of Israel and was the ancestor of King David. The New Testament depicts her as being an ancestor of Jesus, too. I like to bring this up when some Christians want to declare that converts aren't "real Jews" or that Jews are a race. It is Jewish law alone, not Christianity or any other entity that determines the status of who and what is Jewish.
When a Jew adopts a belief that is in conflict with the Jewish religion, the belief does NOT become a " Jewish belief" just because a Jew chooses to believe in it. THAT is the conflict Jews have with the Christians who call themselves Jews if they deceptively try to present their Christian belief AS Judaism. A Jew who converts to Hare Krishna is just as apostate, but there exists no Jews for Hare Krishna or Hare Krishna Judaism evangelical groups spending millions of dollars a year in campaigns to convert secular Jews by convincing them it is a form of Judaism.
You can become a member of a tribe or nation if you meet the criteria of citizenship. And the covenant people, Klal Yisrael, remain as in the earliest days of the covenant..a nation. It hasn't changed.
Reform Judaism (of which I am a member) will consider as Jewish one whose father is a Jew IF the child was RAISED in Judaism actively and exclusively. Even in Reform Judaism, simply having a Jewish father without exclusively Jewish upbringing, would require conversion on the part of the person with only a Jewish father to become a Jew. Reform Judaism also recognizes that only Orthodox conversion is considered acceptable to all branches.
It is against Jewish law for any Jew to discriminate against a convert to Judaism. Since the time of the Torah converts have been accepted as fully Jewish, and this is the case in all branches. We are not even supposed to refer to the fact that they are converts! It is up to them if they wish to identify themselves as such. They are Jews, period.
The covenant people, Israel have been MULTIRACIAL since the days of Torah, Moses' wife, Zipporah was a black woman. There have been Ethiopian Beta Yisrael since the days of Solomon! And I repeat, one cannot convert to a race. One may convert and become fully Jewish.
The Jewish Bible ( Tanakh ) tells from the beginning book to the end that the righteous of all nations ( Jew or Gentile ) have the capacity to connect directly to God, merit blessing and a place in the world to come. Every human is equal before God according to the Jewish religion. Atonement is directly from God. Shalom

definitions of nation, country, state. Torah calls us the covenant NATION many times.
This is always a good place for comparative study, too.
http://www.jewish-languages.org/ This is a link to a source that is a scholarly study of the development of Jewish languages. It will help you if you are interested in studying the different Jewish cultures and ethnicities..note PLURAL

How can the Jews expect the messiah to be just a human?

If someone were to tell you that a human being will one day raise his hands and a whole sea part in two so that dry land appear, would you think…that can’t happen. No human could do such a thing. Well, Moses did that. Yet, it wasn’t really Moses’ own power that did it, it was God’s power that did it. Moses wasn’t God. The Hebrews did not see him as a god because he performed miracles. The Hebrews did not believe that God took on Moses' form when he performed all those miraculous events before their eyes.
You’re free to not believe it happened at all, I'm not going to try to convince anyone who thinks it was simply a myth that it happened. But for the purposes of this discussion on the Jewish faith and our prophetic vision of a Davidic messiah and a "messianic age" we will take it on “faith” ( that’s the focus of this discourse now) that the account in the Torah that depicts the whole nation of Israel as witnessing this really took place.

After the entire multitude that had been delivered from Egypt witnessed this miraculous event, Israel did not bow before Moses as a god. They had just been through a whole series of events that clearly told them that God doesn’t become a man, men are not deities and such false notions of deity are powerless over the real God. Jews don’t believe that men become deities. Gold told all Israel directly at Sinai that God does not become a man and the Torah records this directly.  Believing Jews in every generation have believed God didn't lie to us about this important core aspect of our faith. It is what all Israel affirmed in God's presence at Sinai.
Jews aren't awaiting "Jesus return" or awaiting their notion of messiah at all! Christians rely on Jesus for "salvation", Jews know that God has been our salvation for four thousand years! Torah never taught us that we were born with a burden of sin that we had to have salvation from in the first place. The focus of faith is also very different between Christianity and Judaism.In Egypt the Hebrews were surrounded for over 400 years by a culture that was OBSESSED with the "afterlife" more than this gift of life we have in the here and now. I think that was part of the hard lesson of coming out of slavery from Egypt. The bonds of idolatry and superstition that enslaved the mind were broken when Israel came to the recognition that all those man/gods and animal gods were powerless over this life. It wasn't only deliverance from physical bondage that is told about at Passover, but the deliverance for each generation when we remember the kind of enslavement that focusing on concern for another world than this one is made priority.

The Christian concept that before Jesus, God was exclusively for the Jews, has ALWAYS been foreign to Jewish belief. The book of Kings records Gentiles worshipping at the Temple , Torah teaches that every human can directly connect to God and the righteous of all nations are blessed.

Jews trust that if God promises that an anointed ruler, a human, will lead the world to universal brotherood, peace, understanding and worship of God, then that’s what God will do. Many of us believe that it is the very role of all of Klal Yisrael (the community of Israel) to bring this about through Tikkun Olam, or "repairing the world" through human actions.

Humanity's responsibility to change, improve, and fix our earthly surroundings implies that each person has a hand in working towards the betterment of his or her own existence as well as the lives of future generations. Tikkun olam forces people to take ownership of their world. Many of us believe that it is our responsibility, not God, who will bring the world back to its original state of holiness. We trust that if we do our part, God will do what is promised. That is our faith and that is our trust in God. We are still here as a covenant people despite thousands of years of every form of attempt to do away with us and our faith.

While it is an aspect of our faith that we believe God will do as promised, Judaism is a fulfilling faith and path without the messiah and messianic age being here yet. We hope our actions help bring about the age of the messiah, but we focus on fulfilling our purpose as humans to all living. Because our concepts of the role and function of the messiah and so many other things are different,the focus of our religion is also different. Judaism focuses on the gift of this life and our responsibilities to the lives that come after us. Jews are obligated to participate in repairing the world by participating in tzedakah (justice and righteousness) and g'milut hasadim (acts of loving kindness). As the prophet Micah so succinctly stated : What does God require of you, Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Practice living *as if* you are in partnership with God in perfecting the world and then one day you'll understand that is the precisely what you are.

Jews test and scrutinize everything..we are taught to do so in Torah. If something is real and valid, it will stand up to any test put before it. Blind faith isn't a path of Judaism.

Now back to that original question, as to how Jews expect just a human do what is prophecied?

How did Moses do what he did? That’s my best answer for that.

For those who observed the events at the Exodus, it was evidence for them that they happened. Until the events of the messianic age transpire, we don’t really know what precise methods will be employed, we just know what the results will be…..On faith. Once they happen, the objective evidence will let us know that is the case and we won't need to rely on faith to accept the reality before us.

We expect that the prophetic vision will be congruent with the eternal covenant of Torah.

Anything that is not, is not a fulfillment of the Torah.


Add to the list of upcoming topics: The Biblical explanation why believing Jews have always refused to bow to man/gods and shall forever eschew that notion. Torah teaches Israel that God is not and does not become a man...period.

Ideas rather appropriate for this time of year leading up to Passover on Wednesday.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Hummingbird Friend

When I first came to Yahoo chat in June of 1999, I felt overwhelmed with responsibilities and was so stressed that my time in chat was like therapy to me. I had just begun working at the hospital as an RN on weekend nights, my son was very small, and I was caring for my ailing mother with increasing frequency. My Dad had his hands full as the primary caregiver to my mother. He was doing a wonderful job. Nevertheless, he also had a martyr complex going and was only grudgingly beginning to accept that he could not care for her all alone. He took more help from me and my husband only as each new crisis arose. That was as hard as watching my mom decline. My mother had Alzheimer’s.

She passed away in the spring of 2001. I often spoke and wrote of the issues and frustrations of watching a loved one disappear from you years before they actually die . There are so many sad things about Alzheimer’s that often one may not recognize some of the wonderful blessings that may have also happened until your loved one really is gone. I could write reams about how I dealt with changing roles. I could write of how I learned to live in the moment with her, how my husband, my father and I grew close and strong through all of this. However, today I want to write about some of those odd little profound events that taught me something else. It taught me lessons of kindness and understanding. It contains a precious memory I hope I will never lose. It does not start out reading like it is a precious thing at all to remember but if you hang on and read far enough you may get the point.

My mother had a very long decline with her Alzheimer’s. In the latter years, she was often in her own reality. She enjoyed children’s cartoons and fantasy along with my toddler son and had the same looks of wonderment and enjoyment spread across her face while they sat side by side watching the screen. She would almost always immediately forget what she saw but enjoyed it while she watched.

We had to be careful what she watched on television because even though she would forget most programs immediately after she watched them, sometimes she would remember the program, but not as she saw it. Violent police story shows would be remembered as something that happened to her in the recent past or she would think someone she knew experienced it. A particularly upsetting show might be remembered for days that way and there was no way you could reorient her to the fact that it was not a memory of a real event. Sometimes her world would be very different in how she saw her surroundings. She would see things that were not there or much more commonly, she would see something and her brain would decipher the image as something very different.

That is a very common thing in Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease.

No matter how you tried to show otherwise, her delusions were her reality. At the beginning of this “stage”, the first psychiatrist my Dad had taken her to see was adamant in instructing my Dad the importance to “reorient her to reality”. I disagreed with that approach and still do. Most physicians now do as well. The Alzheimer’s patient is not going to get well. In the very early stages, reorienting may help ease anxiety. In the latter stages, this approach increases anxiety and frustration. Figuring out ways to help them cope with their reality and overcome their anxieties and fears rather than always working to orienting to reality is most important. The difficulty is sometimes in determining which path to choose. They live in the moment.

One afternoon we had a terrible thunderstorm with unusually heavy rain. My Dad made the mistake of saying “it’s raining cats and dogs out there”. Mother got up from the sofa and looked outside through the living room blinds. It was raining so hard you could barely see to the road. Immediately on looking out the window, she clutched at her heart and cried out “Someone has to go get that poor puppy!” I jumped up, looked outside and could see nothing but what appeared to be a white sack from some fast food place thrown by a litterbug into the ditch. I asked her, “What puppy?” She said. “There, in the ditch, Look, there is a tiny poodle huddled down there scared in the rain!” I looked out again, thinking perhaps in that torrent of rain I overlooked it. No, I don’t see anything other than that white paper sack. I tell her. “I see a white sack.” She grabbed at me, "OH no, no! See that POODLE! There is a puppy there, its right there, can’t you SEE it!? Look, I’m pointing RIGHT at it! It’s right there, in plain sight! Do I have to go get it or are you going to?” I try to calm her down and tell her again, “It isn’t a dog; it’s a paper sack someone threw in the ditch”.
Dad tells her to go sit down. He is scowling and trying to just ignore the whole thing. She is getting quite frustrated, hysteria creeping into her voice. She starts to go out the front door. She had a fall recently and neither one of us want her out there in the lightning that is crackling all around us and it is raining VERY hard. We tell her, "Please don’t go out there, it is a SACK, it is not a dog." She begins cursing at us, how can we be so cruel to leave a poodle out there! It is lost; we are so horrible not to let her go get that. She demands that if she can’t go get it that I do it. She is screaming at me. She is entirely hysterical now because we do not see it, do not believe her and she thinks we are conspiring against her amid her astonishment at our apparent indifference to this poor puppy. Dad is fussing at ME now out of frustration, “Don’t you go out there in that rain!” I get him off to the side and tell him, "Let me go get the “dog” and I’ll take it “home”." I told him I will throw the sack away if he can just keep her calm and in the living room. I decided to make up that I am going to go to the neighbors and see to whom it might belong.

I headed out the door and made a dash in that rain for the sack. Despite using a small umbrella, I am already drenched clear through to my underwear by the time I reach it. I grabbed it just as a clap of thunder and flash of lightning hit and I damn near add pee to the wetness in my underwear. Then I made a dash for the side of the house Mom cannot see from the living room window. That is also where the outdoor trashcan is located. Plop...paper bag dog has found his “home”. As I close the can I then realized that I cannot go right back in the house because the “dog” had to go home. So I stood out there under the carport, drenched to my underwear and shivering, counting off to a thousand very slowly. I thought, "Who knows, she may have even forgotten the whole incident when I walk in." Her memory was that bad it sometimes happened that she would do that, forget something the moment you leave a room.

After perhaps two or three minutes, I walked into the house and Mom pounced at me, “Where is the puppy?” I told her that I took the puppy home to the neighbor on the next block and it is doing fine. Then I walked down the hallway and changed clothes. She sat down quietly and then forgot about the whole thing. Nothing is ever again said about paper bag dog.

A few weeks goes by and she is looking out the window and tells us about how cute a baby squirrel looks as it is running up and down the driveway. Animal lover that I am I go look. It is a large oak leaf, blowing in a circular path in the wind. I pacify her rather than orient her, "Aww, yes, it sure is cute Mom." We walk away from the window. Event over. That was so much easier. Dad sees this and shrugs to me as if in realization after those two events that he was not going to try to tell her that what she “sees” is not real anymore.

She is happier in her own world than in the real world sometimes. Why deprive her of those little moments?

She also developed a weird thing about collecting tiny rocks and gravel from the backyard. She would spend hours poking around in the dirt looking for small rocks she thought "pretty".She had jars of those rocks lining the dining room windowsill. She would go outside in the backyard for an hour or so each day to look for "pretty crystals" (sometimes I would take her for actual crystal digs and a couple of times to the diamond mine at Murfreesboro and she adored this but that's another story) So, one day when she came in from her outside dig and announced to my Dad and me that she had a hummingbird friend who would let her pet it at the hummingbird feeder, we gave each other a” knowing" look. We nodded and said things like "how nice", "Uh huh, that's great." Both of us thought it was another delusion; we will pacify her and move along.

The next week when I came over for one of my days to help care for Mom and relieve my Dad, as I entered the house, I called out for Mom. Dad came out of the kitchen and said, “She is in the backyard.” I looked out the dining room window to see her standing at the hummingbird feeder I always kept full so we could enjoy watching them eat while we ate, and there stood my mother...

petting a hummingbird!

She is stroking its little back with her index finger and talking to it sweetly. The hummingbird is dipping her beak into the feeder, looks back at my Mom every few seconds, and then dips her head again.

I quickly call out to Dad, “DAD YOU GOTTA SEE THIS QUICK! And I mean HURRY AND LOOK!”

He comes running to the window and we both look at each other with our mouths agape.
“OH MY GOD SHE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH! This one wasn't a delusion! She really DID have a hummingbird friend!” She came in and was just as calm as could be as if it was not at all out of the ordinary to have a hummingbird friend.

That summer we watched her pet that little female hummingbird another half dozen times. Each time we stood there astonished. My only regret is that we did not take a photograph. I do not know why it never even entered the minds of either of us to try. They were brief encounters that put us both in awe to witness.
*** Note*** I copied that image a long time ago and don't have a page to credit so if anyone knows, I'll be happy edit for credit. It isn't my Mom's friend :)


The Torah teaches repeatedly that human sacrifice is something God does not want and finds abhorrent, so the concept that Jesus could be a sacrifice for sin is contradictory to the Torah. That alone would invalidate for all time even the most remote possibility of his being a "messiah"using the Hebrew definition of that word, an anointed ruler. I am not going to address here the many changes in word definition that took place with the development of Christianity, suffice it to say at this point that the Christian definition and purpose of "Messiah" bears little resemblance to the Hebrew Bible's prophetic vision.

Sometimes in order to explain what it is that Jews believe now or believed in ancient times it is necessary to dispel mistaken notions that appear commonplace and are directly related to what the New Testament says *about* Jewish belief and practice, versus what the Torah and Tanakh directly state.There is a concept in Christianity *alone* that only blood (animal) sacrifice may atone for sin. That concept has ALWAYS been foreign to the faith of the covenant nation, Israel. Before I can even begin to explain the sacrificial system adequately using the laws of Torah in Leviticus, I must first show that the perspective of Christianity on this issue is dependent on having taken a few key passages out of the Torah. They take them completely out of their context to try to support a human sacrifice as being compatible with the Temple sacrificial system.

In addition, rather than spend this entire entry on the topic of "blood" in sacrifice, I will copy-paste a brief portion from of an excellent web site devoted to understanding the differences between Christianity and Judaism. I sincerely hope you will read the thorough explanation in full there at the link. Rabbi Stuart Federow has read both religion's Bibles and has addressed the differences of many concepts very well in explanations from a Scriptural perspective what it is that Jews believe about things that differ from Christianity.

First, Jews do not have a concept of "original sin", meaning that humans are born with a burden of sin that must be reconciled. Blood sacrifice has never been the exclusive means to seek atonement. God does not become a man. There is no demon-god Devil in Torah. There is no fall of angels. Please read the portion at http://www.whatjewsbelieve.org/ regarding the question that Blood is not necessary for atonement. Jews then and now trust that God will do as promised if we do our part.

Animal sacrifice was never the only way to atonement.

 A sin sacrifice, called a Korban Chatas, was only required for accidental transgressions of severe sins. If someone was unsure if they had transgressed a sin for which they would be required to bring  a sin sacrifice they brought a sacrifice called a Korban  Asham Taluy.  The Chatas ( sin ) offering was not for intentional or malicious sins.   Some sin offerings could not be eaten, but for the most part, for the average person's personal sin, the chatat was eaten by the Kohenim, the Temple priests.
The animal offerings differed as to who was giving them, for a king or the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol  the requirement is the sacrifice of unblemished bull. A normal person had to bring a female lamb, but if they were too poor to provide that, they were asked to bring two birds (the exact species is subject to debate) and a really poor person brought flour, oil and frankincense.

There is no blood in flour, oil and frankincense. No sacrifice for sin was considered acceptable unless you had done the necessary steps of teshuvah beforehand. Teshuvah refers to repentance of the wrongful deed, amends for anything you could rectify and a return to righteousness, eschewing the wrongful deed. The important thing was the repentance you did prior to this offering and the act of showing you had done what was necessary before you asked God to forgive you.

***The centrality of the animal sacrifices ceased, not with the second destruction of the Temple by the Romans, but rather with the first destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians. Please remember that the vast majority of Jews never returned to the Promised Land under Cyrus of Persia. They remained in Babylonia. By the time Jesus was born, eighty percent of the world's Jewish community lived outside of the Promised Land, and could not have cared less about the cessation of the animal sacrifices. When the Temple was reestablished, the Jews of Babylonia made an annual financial gift for the maintenance of the Temple, and the land, but never worried that God was not going to forgive them their sins without a blood sacrifice, just as Diaspora Jews do today. And the reason why they had no such fear, was that the Bible makes it explicitly clear that no blood sacrifice is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, or that the exclusive means for the God-man relationship was through the animal sacrifices.***

Please read at the link below (topic on the left side of the page) for the scriptural references as to what it is that believing Jews do for repentance and atonement. I will also address in another essay my explanation of the Jewish concept of forgiveness.

Some Christians try to tell Jews that the Second Temple was destroyed because we "rejected" Jesus. I have seen that given as justification for every exile, inquisition, pogrom and even the Holocaust. They will also claim that he is the reason the sacrifices ended and claim he is a "one time" sacrifice for all. The sacrifices continued unabated for many decades before the Temple’s destruction, and if Jesus or his followers had something to do with its destruction, it certainly wasn’t because of the Jews who did not abandon worship of God to worship a deified Jew or rely on the sacrifice of a human.

The New Testament especially demonizes the Pharisees, the sect of Judaism whose writings and teachings actually agree more with the quotations of Jesus, and barely mentions the Sadducees.
The Pharisees, referring to those who keep separate , were so self-named because they wanted to keep Torah SEPARATE from pagan, foreign influence ( Hellenizing influences). They were not hypocritical elitists as the New Testament depicts, but dedicated to keeping the covenant of Israel intact without corruption. Any group or entity that would try to alter meanings of halacha (Torah law) would be dismissed by the Pharisees. The Sadducees were the Hellenized Roman collaborators whose sect has disappeared. The writers of the New Testament did this to those who were dedicated to keeping the Torah “separate” from all Hellenized and idolatrous influence to remove the blot of crucifixion of Jewish rebels from the Romans onto the Jews to justify their desire to do away with the Jews and Judaism.

Here is a bit of background and a Jewish perspective to show why that they may wish to reconsider the opinion that the destruction of the Second Temple happened as punishment from God because Jews did not worship Jesus.

Tammuz was a very ancient nature deity worshiped in Babylonia. A god of agriculture and flocks, he personified the creative powers of spring. The fertility goddess Ishtar, who, according to one legend, was so grief-stricken at his death that she contrived to enter the underworld to get him back, loved him. According to another legend, she killed him and later restored him to life. These legends and his festival, commemorating the yearly death and rebirth of vegetation, corresponded to the festivals of the Phoenician and Greek Adonis and of the Phrygian Attis. The Sumerian name of Tammuz was Dumuzi. In the Bible, the women of Jerusalem (Ezekiel. 8.14) mourn his disappearance.
Sunrise services in honor of Tammuz and praying for his resurrection is an ancient heathen custom. It is actually described and condemned harshly in the book of Ezekiel.
Hmm, Man/god, born of virgin dies and Ishtar resurrects him in the Spring. Ishtar/Easter? Annual spring resurrection celebrated with sunrise services...striking, isn't it?

12. And He said to me, "Have you seen, son of man, what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each one in his paved chambers? For they say, 'The Lord does not see us; the Lord has left the earth.' "

13. And He said to me, "You will yet see again greater abominations that they are doing."

14. And He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the house of the Lord that is to the north, and behold there the women were sitting, weeping for Tammuz.

15. And He said to me, "Have you seen, son of man? You will yet see again greater abominations than these."

16. And He brought me to the inner court of the house of the Lord, and behold, at the entrance of the Temple of the Lord between the porch and the altar, about twenty- five men, their backs to the Temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, and they were prostrating themselves eastward to the sun.

17. And He said to me, "Have you seen, son of man? Was it [too] trivial to the house of Judah to prevent them from performing the abominations that they have done here? For they have [already] filled the land with violence, and repeatedly provoked Me, and behold they send disgrace into their nose.

18. I too, shall act with fury; My eyes will not spare, neither will I have pity, and they will call into My ears with a loud voice, but I shall not listen to them."

This was a warning prior to the destruction of the FIRST Temple.

The Second Temple was destroyed just after another man/god began being worshipped in Jerusalem.


Rather than a Mosiach (anointed ruler) restoring all exiles to Israel and ushering in a world of universal brotherhood, peace and worship of God for all humanity centered in Jerusalem at the Temple, the beginnings of the Christian religion as a dominating force saw the exile of those who held steadfast to the eternal covenant and the destruction of the Second Temple. Despite thousands of years of every form of attempt to obliterate the eternal covenant nation, Israel, we remain and we remain steadfast in worship of God alone. The Christian version of a messiah brought about the antithesis of what God promised the messiah would bring.

Rambam (Maimonides; Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) (1135-1204 C.E.)the author of the Mishneh Torah, one of the greatest codes of Jewish law, had this to say about the passage in the book of Daniel 11:14  describing people who try to establish the vision of the kingdom of God but stumble and fall because they are not following Torah is a reference to Christianity, saying:
"Is there a greater stumbling block than [Jesus]? All the prophets foretold that the messiah would redeem the Jews, help them, gather in the exiles and support their observance of the commandments. But he caused Jewry to be put to the sword, to be scattered and to be degraded; he tampered with the Torah and its laws; and he misled most of the world to serve something other than G-d."

Shalom y'all


***http://whatjewsbelieve.org/ portions asteriked with this copied from that site. Permission from my friend Rabbi Stuart Federow to use his site to help educate as long as I always credit him with his words.

A Few Reasons Why I Write What I Write

A great deal of the first few entries I have already posted and many of the upcoming essays I will be posting will be familiar to some of you. You may have first read some of them or portions in many of my answers in Yahoo Answers, many of my essays on my previous Yahoo360 blog, and many things I wrote in the old "Friendly Jewish Chat" room from 2000-2005 until Yahoo closed the user chat rooms. I first began coming to Yahoo chat in June of 1999. I’ve seen the same questions asked of Jews daily.

None of the beliefs I explain from my understanding are new or my own ideas, but my own way of expressing these ideas in my own individual way.   A few of the things I'll explain from a Torah perspective I may not even believe precisely as written.**(see edit below added 2/24/2016)  My explanations and essays are primarily to do my little part as one small voice to help counter misinformation and misunderstanding. There are many Jews who blog about these things on the internet and there are many books written about these topics. Some of them you may find much more interesting than my words. I always hope that if there is something that I've said here that challenges you, that you will investigate on your own. I never write to missionize and I will always be happy to give you reputable references to support any claims I make about Jewish belief.

If all I was doing here was to teach about Judaism and Torah, I would not be mentioning a thing about the Christian religion or their texts. However, because most people I personally encounter who ask Jews about Judaism and who harbor misconceptions come from a Christian perspective, how Judaism contrasts with Christian doctrine will often be addressed here.

Jews live in a world surrounded by religions and cultures much more dominating public perception. Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, all have far larger numbers of adherents. Overall, in my every day life, I don't bother to think about Christian beliefs much. I am friends with many Christians. I have a few family members that are Christians. Until or unless they're trying to convert me, they misrepresent an aspect of my faith or they're hateful to me and try to justify their hate on their belief, I get along with most folk. I try be respectful and tolerant of the right of individuals and groups to have their own unadulterated culture, customs and beliefs. My tolerance extends to the point where the expression of those beliefs violate certain standards of behaviors: If they attempt to violate another’s civil rights, seek to incite harm to anyone, willfully deceive another or misrepresent the beliefs of others then my tolerance ceases.

I do not feel I have to respect every other belief out there, but I do need to recognize and live in a manner that respects the right of others to have their different beliefs. That’s what we generally mean when we say we want them to respect us. I don’t care if someone doesn’t like Judaism, as long as they are basing their dislike on the reality of what Judaism really is and teaches. Don’t tell me how wrong Judaism is and base your dislike or hatred on misconceptions or misrepresentations, strawman arguments or bigotry. If you think Judaism is wrong, fine, don't be Jewish. Just don't tell me that Jews are wrong and evil because of things we do *not* believe and expect me to respect *you*. No one of the Jewish faith respects another when they misrepresent Judaism, either to convert us, demonize us, or justify attempts to do away with us altogether.

Shalom y'all
Soon to come - topics of upcoming essays to explain from a Jewish perspective:
Human Sacrifice, Idolatry and the Destruction of the Second Temple
Worship of or through a Jew is not a Jewish thing to do
Christianity is of far less Jewish origin than many think
Judaism has been complete and fulfilling for 3500 years
Tikkun Olam
Identity Theft on a National Scale

Almost SEVEN years after I wrote this and several hundred views to this post, it is today 2/24/2016 just a very short while after I link to this way down in a very long comment thread under an answer to a question that I receive a message from another user in Yahoo Answers.  Hmm.  It is a q from a profile with only a question mark for a screen name, whose q's and a's are closed and the email link does not even show to me to permit a reply.  The note called me to task for the above sentence:
And I quote including misspelling:

"  A few of the things I'll explain from a Torah perspective I may not even believe precisely as written."  Then why do you argue if you don't believe the Torah as it is written?  You are a Pharisee hypocrit.

Well, this is clearly not from a Jew,so that's the first thing I would wonder why it upsets someone that I might not believe every thing exactly as it is written in literal form... but, I guess I'll point out two things
1) I never claimed to be a Jew who observes all of Jewish law, in that manner, perhaps you can call my a hypocrite for honest Torah based answers explaining some laws like kashrut or prohibition of marriage to a non Jew all right considering I do not keep a kosher kitchen and I'm married to a non Jew..( and lest you go there, too, he's never been a Christian or any other religion's member)... but I clearly disagree  with the New Testament libeling Pharisees as hypocrites and you can read my essay on that topic. I am honored to be an heir to the legacy of the REAL Pharisees.
None of those things prevent me from answering honestly from my knowledge and that I continue to do for the reasons I've stated.
2) When I wrote that seven years ago I was specifically thinking about the topic of Noah's flood, but did not care to get into that detail as I figured it a bit sidetracking from the point of my post here.  But the question to why I don't believe it as literal comes down to, did it cover the whole earth or was it a great regional flood?
I happen to believe that it did not cover the whole earth, the entire sphere. I think it covered the whole world that the people who were involved there knew about.  There is simply too much archaeological and historical objective evidence and even geological evidence and even PLANT evidence showing us that there has been no world wide deluge in the past 8 or even 10 thousand years, let alone the past 5775 years. I believe that the story of a flood is true, and I believe that Noah understood it to be his world.  I do not believe that it was the entire globe.  If you want to call me a "hypocrit"(sic)  for that you'll need to redefine the English word hypocrite, and I don't know why it should get someone's knickers in such a twist that of ALL the things I said today under those comments that the ? person saw THAT as worthy of a note to me.

I  now wonder now how many times that little quote of mine will be taken out of context to try to say I admit I don't believe in the Torah without the context of what I said..or more likely I wonder if I'll see it put , mama pajama said " A few of the things I'll explain from a Torah perspective I may not even believe " without even finishing the sentence.  Any takers on that bet?


The New Testament doctrine is NOT any form of Judaism.

Excerpts from various Position Statements:
In 1993, the Task Force on Missionaries and Cults of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRCNY) issued a statement which has been endorsed by the four major Jewish denominations: Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism, and Reconstructionist Judaism, as well as national Jewish organizations.

Based on this statement, the Spiritual Deception Prevention Project at the JCRCNY stated:On several occasions leaders of the four major Jewish movements have signed on to joint statements opposing Hebrew-Christian theology and tactics.

In part they said: "Though Hebrew Christianity claims to be a form of Judaism, it is not ... It deceptively uses the sacred symbols of Jewish observance ... as a cover to convert Jews to Christianity, a belief system antithetical to Judaism ... Hebrew Christians are in radical conflict with the communal interests and the destiny of the Jewish people. They have crossed an unbridgeable chasm by accepting another religion. Despite this separation, they continue to attempt to convert their former co-religionists."

CHIEF Ashkenazi and CHIEF Sephardi Rabbis of Israel:
"There are Christian groups that call themselves "Messianic Jews" whose faith is totally alien to the Jewish faith, and members of these groups who were born to Jewish parents have a status of apostates who removed themselves from the Jewish Nation."-Official proclamation of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, 1998.
Rabbi Y. Eliezer Danzinger of Tzefat, Israel (Chabad)
"Messianic Judaism is both a logical and theological absurdity. It's perverse goal is to seduce uneducated Jews away from their heritage and people, without the ensnared realizing the enormity of their betrayal.""Although Jews who subscribe to such heresy are clearly apostates--and as such, forfeit all rights as Jews, including the right of being buried in a Jewish cemetery--the gates of repentance are open to them."
Hebrew Union College / Jewish Institute of Religion (Reform)
....being Jewish and accepting Christ is entirely incompatible. In the Winter 1996 issue of Reform Judaism, Mark Washofsky, called Messianic Jews "apostates." "We see Messianic Jews as dishonest, deceptive and ultimately dangerous to our existence as a religious community."
Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform)For us in the Jewish community anyone who claims that Jesus is their savior is no longer a Jew and is an apostate. Through that belief she has placed herself outside the Jewish community. Whether she cares to define herself as a Christian or as a "fulfilled Jew," "Messianic Jew," or any other designation is irrelevant; to us she is clearly a Christian. We should, therefore, consider a "completed Jew" [Messianic Jew] as an apostate.....they should be seen as outsiders who have placed themselves outside the Jewish community. This should be made very clear to them and to the Jewish and general community, especially as many such individuals are active proselytizers. Such individuals should not be accorded membership in the congregation or treated in any way which makes them appear as if they were affiliated with the Jewish community, for that poses a clear danger to the Jewish community and also to its relationships with the general community.We certainly do not want these individuals to speak for Judaism in any public forum. In conclusion, we should make the distinction between ourselves and these individuals very clear to them, to the Jewish community and to the general community around us.-proclamation September 1983.
Resolution Adopted by the CCAR
Deceptive Proselytization of Jews
Adopted by the CCAR at the 96th Annual Convention of
the Central Conference of American Rabbis
The Jewish community is concerned about ongoing deceptive efforts to proselytize Jews. We recognize the constitutional right of religious groups to practice their faiths and to share their beliefs with others, but we condemn the deceptive practices employed by certain Christian missionary groups in their zeal to win converts.
Of paramount concern to the Jewish community is the claim of certain Christian missionary groups that they legitimately represent Jewish tradition. So-called "Jews for Jesus," "Messianic Jews," "Hebrew Christians, " and other such groups, in claiming to be part of the Jewish community, make four misleading claims: 1) They misrepresent themselves as another branch of Judaism alongside the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist branches. 2) Some of their leaders misrepresent themselves as duly ordained "rabbis." 3) They deceptively call their places of worship "synagogues."" And 4) they misquote and misinterpret traditional Jewish sources to support their beliefs.
The accepted bodies of Judaism, while differing on points of theology and practice, unanimously agree that belief in Jesus as God, the Messiah, Savior, or the Son of God is Christian doctrine, which is wholly apart from Jewish tradition and theology. Therefore, any movement that professes such belief cannot be considered a part of Judaism and cannot legitimately represent itself as such.
The use of these deceptive practices that distort Judaism in order to convert Jews is a moral issue of great concern, not only to the Jewish community, but to society at large. We call upon our congregations and organizations to publish this stand in their newsletters and temple bulletins. We call upon our colleagues to share this statement with leaders and friends in the Christian communities. We call upon all fair-minded Americans to condemn deception in the name of religion and not to support or sponsor such organizations.
Conservative Judaism:
...there is no place for so-called Messianic Jews or Hebrew-Christians within our congregations and within the Jewish community."Hebrew Christian, Jewish Christian, Jew for Jesus, Messianic Jew, Fulfilled Jew. The name may have changed over the course of time, but all of the names reflect the same phenomenon: one who asserts that s/he is straddling the theological fence between Christianity and Judaism, but in truth is firmly on the Christian side.…we must affirm as did the Israeli Supreme Court in the well-known Brother Daniel case that to adopt Christianity is to have crossed the line out of the Jewish community."by Rabbi Jonathan Waxman, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
"What is ALEPH's position on so called messianic Judaism? ALEPH has a policy of respect for other spiritual traditions, but objects to deceptive practices and will not collaborate with denominations which actively target Jews for recruitment. Our position on so-called "Messianic Judaism" is that it is Christianity and its proponents would be more honest to call it that."Position statement of ALEPH the Allianced for Jewish Renewal
Canadian B'nai Brith:
"One of the more alarming trends in antisemitic activity in Canada in 1998 was the growing number of incidents involving messianic organizations posing as "synagogues". These missionizing organizations are in fact evangelical Christian proselytizing groups, whose purpose is specifically to target members of the Jewish community for conversion. They fraudulently represent themselves as Jews, and these so-called synagogues are elaborately disguised Christian churches."
Orthodox Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, writing for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, wrote:
'Christianity negates the fundamentals of Jewish faith, and one who accepts it rejects the very essence of Judaism. Even if he continues to keep all of the rituals, it is the same as if he abandoned Judaism completely.

Older  Decisions:

*A Rabbi in the later Middle Ages named the Hai Gaon, as quoted by Aderet in Responsa, VII #292, stated that a Jew who converted out of the faith was no longer a Jew. This was shared by numerous rabbis, which can be seen in the Responsa literature of Simon ben Zemah of Duran, Samuel de Medina, Judah Berab, Jacob Berab, Moses ben Elias Kapsali, and others in the Middle Ages.

Most recently this can also be seen in the Responsa of the Satmar Rov in his Divrei Torah, Yoreh Deah #59, paragraph 5, as well as in the Responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Even Haezer Volume 4 Number 53.

The very famous rabbi, Moses ben Maimon, called Maimonides, also wrote that if a Jew converted to Christianity, he or she was no longer a Jew. See Maimonides, Hilchot Mamrim Perek 3, Halacha 1-3, as well as in Maimonides's Mishnah Torah, Avodat Kochavim 2:5.

Rabbi Moses Isserles demanded a formal conversion back to Judaism for those who converted out of Judaism but who then wanted to return to Judaism. He demanded ritual immersion (mikveh) and repentance before a court of three (beit din). You will see this also in other Responsa literature: Radbaz, Responsa III, 415; Moses Isserles to Yoreh Deah 268.12; and Hoffman, Melamed Leho-il II, 84*
* This portion from whatjewsbelieve.org  edit oct 2017 

EDIT April, 2010: While the information from this post first appeared on boards in 2000 and my Yahoo360 blog in 2005, that original entry also included the INTERFAITH groups that respected the religious freedom/rights of Jews. I'm trying to reconstruct from my own writings via Google, my past emails and what I find saved in my computer..Here is what I had copied from my blog and sent to a Catholic friend in 2007 and a Y/A user in 2008. I don't recall if this was copied verbatim from my own 2005 entry or edited:

The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington met in
the summer of 1997 in Washington D.C.. This group is an umbrella organization that includes Baha'í, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Mormon, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Jews, and church groups from the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. IFC's stated goal is "(1)to increase understanding, dialogue, and a sense of community among persons of different faiths, representing diverse races and cultures, and (2)to address issues of social and economic justice in defense of human dignity."

It is an affiliate member of The Washington Theological Consortium, an ecumenical organization with its regular membership composed of Christian theological schools that cooperate and share resources.
They created a statement in response to a resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, calling on its members to redouble their efforts to evangelize Jews. Particularly singled out for criticism was the "Messianic Jewish" movement as promoting activities "harmful to the spirit of interreligious respect and tolerance." The conference denounced “deceptive proselytizing efforts”, though recognizing evangelism is an important tenet of Christian theology due to the Great Commission. The conference stated that when”deceptive proselytizing efforts” were practiced on "vulnerable populations" such as the young or the elderly, these efforts are "tantamount to coerced conversions."“

The Conference concluded with an official statement condemning the proselytization efforts of the “Messianic Movement“ (published in Summer, 1997 "Interfaith Connector" Vol. 8, No. 2) which stated:

“We condemn proselytizing efforts which delegitimize the faith tradition of the person whose conversion is being sought. Such tactics go beyond the bounds of appropriate and ethically based religious outreach.

"Examples of such practices are those common among groups that have adopted the label of "Hebrew Christianity", "Messianic Judaism", or "'Jews for Jesus".

"These groups specifically target Jews for conversion to their version of Christianity, making claim that in accepting Jesus as the savior/messiah, a Jews 'fulfills' his/her faith.

"Furthermore, by celebrating Jewish festivals, worshipping on the Jewish Shabbat, appropriating Jewish symbols, rituals and prayers in their churches, and, sometimes, even calling their leaders 'Rabbi', the seek to win over, often by deception, many Jews who are sincerely looking for a path back to their ancestral heritage.”

"Deceptive proselytizing is practiced on the most vulnerable of populations - residents of hospitals and old aged homes, confused youth, college students away from home. These proselytizing techniques are tantamount to coerced conversions and should be condemned."

And now that the Yahoo360 blog is gone and all I can find are a couple of emails where I'd sent some of this to others and where I'd posted some of the IFCMW information to the "New Statesman" magazine in January, 2008, I can't find all of my reference *souces* for the above compiled items that I began gatheing on the internet in 2000 when I first wrote this. The information from the Task Force on Missionaries and Cults came from a now DEFUNCT web page of their own,(of course the one link I had isn't there now) the info on the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington came from the IFCMW but I'd almost swear I first found the link via Wikipedia, but I can't seem to find it on their entry now. (I see on the Wiki history page, deletions were made in 2004)
http://www.ifcmw.org/ is their home page now.

Here is another citation for them revealing their lofty aims and efforts to brotherhood and understanding between peoples: http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=L8pfXrQcqCTjMQ6FT6Rx53ykhLtknFTQnnBDKJkBpx2lthpp9J3K!-348092591!1902166629?docId=5001526931
I know I also used it in several answers online several years ago, too including this one where Jews and NON Jews speaking out against deception were equally attacked http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:hqMMy7_dPooJ:https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index%3Fqid%3D20090821134005AATAOGy+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

I may still turn up my original writing in all my many saved writings. I know I had other official position statements and references posted there that I wanted to include with *this entry* when I first posted it on *this* blog. My titles for saved essays don't always jog my memory as to what was in them. I may return with more edits.