My response to a Youtube commenter

I thought I’d post my response to a commenter on the youtube post   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LZ-Oxdc2T0)   which is the youth group scene from the movie. The person who commented didn’t acknowledge the different responses to Rivka in the traditional synagogue. So here is my response.

“The traditional rabbi is a compassionate person, who is nevertheless nervous about Messianic discussions among the youth. He is friends with the Messianic rabbi, though he doesn’t agree with him.

The anti-missionary speaks some truth about the history of church anti-Semitism (as does the older man in the beginning, and the film does show the connection between Jewish attitudes about Jesus and historic Christian anti-Semitism), but he is manipulative and goes beyond boundaries. I know anti-missionaries who call and harass relatives of Messianic Jews, even the elderly relatives. I find most anti-missionaries to be inappropriate in their behavior, as cult leaders are.

The bat mitzvah teacher represents the new Jewish academic (Daniel Boyarin, Daniel Cohn Sherbok, Yaakov Ariel of Chapel Hill, NC, Amy Jill Levine of Vanderbilt,etc.), who is re-examining the first century and does not see Messianic Jews as “the enemy”.

Blavitz represents those who see Messianic Jews in the worst light, not only as “outside the pale of the Jewish community” (as he says in his “sound bite” response to Uncle Sydney), but as deceivers. Examples of those in this category would include some responders to this youtube post. Before I leave this subject, I will say that anti-missionaries often endeavor to separate between Christians and Messianic Jews in their attacks. But then they question the ethicality of Messianic interpretation of Tanach texts…this even as ancient rabbis often have similar interpretations (see the Ahavat Ammi website). They can’t have it both ways, condemning Messianic Jews and vindicating Christians.

Finally, I will mention that this movie represents our story. Is ours the only story that cannot be told? As mentioned in the film, some cemeteries (though a small minority) have refused burial of Messianic Jews, and there is an exclusion policy for Messianic Jews for the Birthright tour. Emotions about Messianic Jews, both young and old, Holocaust survivors and American born, Israelis and Eastern European, do run high…as the comments here indicate. Of course there are many reasons for this, including historic ones. But this film is our story nonetheless. And it ends on a positive note. It’s my opinion that as people get to know one another, they will see each other as human beings with sincere convictions and good qualities. Usually (except for cases where people have given themselves over to pure evil) the more we get to know people, the less we demonize them.”


4 Comments

  1. I appreciated the film since it was not a predictable evangelical film. The film did not end with the traditional Jewish community “seeing the light” and being converted to Messianic Judaism. Rather it focused on the transformative nature of agape love and how it exposes the darkness in all of us. There was not a mass conversion or revival but a seed was planted, a seed of openness and understanding in contrast with the seed of negativity that had previously been sown. It was not that the antimissionary and others were completely wrong in their historical evaluation. Great harm had been done historically in the name of Jesus that led to a rift and separation between Judaism and Christianity. It became a great impassable gulf that separated all associations of Jewishness from Christianity, even though the founders and early church were all Jewish. The problem with the antimissionary was the spirit of negativity that further widened the gulf and essentially made him, and others, no different from the original perpetrators of hate and evil (at least in spirit). That same spirit is seen today among fundamentalists and militant atheists alike, and among those who place the pursuit of politics and power above the one who said; “My kingdom is not of this world.” It reflects a Manichean spirit that whitewashes whatever side we may be on as the force of goodness, righteousness, and truth; and demonizes the “other”. However, as Michael pointed out,”the more we get to know people the less we demonize them.” And, as the film illustrated, it amazing how G-d uses circumstances to bring disparate people together to tear down our own walls built on faulty perceptions and plants seeds of openness and understanding; and that can only come from the transformative power of agape love. I have seen this in my own family. I married someone of the same faith, but of a different political stripe than the rest of my family (but sometimes politics can be more divisive than religious belief). Yet, as Carl Jung once wrote; “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Needless to say, my family has not come around to embracing my wife’s political opinions, but I do see more openness and understanding where there once was hostility; and that, is the transformative nature of agape love. On a final note, I would have to say my favorite character in the movie was the bar mitzvah teacher, since he reflected my personal temperament more than any other character in the film. I appreciated the irony in his reflection on how someones Jewishness allowed them to embrace Buddhism and Atheism, yet not Messianism (at least not Yeshua) ; even though Jesus and his original followers were once Jewish, until it separated into the almost exclusive Gentile religion known as Christianity.

    • Michael Wolf

      Thank you so much for your insightful comments, Rick. I believe that in some of your thoughts you truly reflected the spirit of the film.

  2. Very interesting movie! I knew nothing about Messianic Judaism until this evening (when I watched the show). It was great to learn something new. Thank you!

    John 14:6

    Cassie

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