Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Robert Novak, RIP: When Jews Leave Judaism

posted by David Klinghoffer

The item in the bombastic journalist’s biography that sticks with me is conversion to Catholicism. The story illustrates a general rule I articulated in Why the Jews Rejected Jesus. While non-Jews who convert to Judaism often come from seriously religious Christian backgrounds, Jews who adopt Christianity nowadays almost without exception are people who never connected with Judaism educationally and/or emotionally. They convert from ignorance, from innocence. This wasn’t always true — it used to be that Jewishly educated Jews not infrequently converted whether from fear or ambition. But today, in the absence of such motives, it almost never happens.

Born a Jew, the lately departed Bob Novak illustrates the point. Back in 2005, he had this conversation with CNN’s Judy Woodruff:

WOODRUFF (voice-over): As the hard-bitten, often acerbic columnist traces his spiritual growth. He was raised by loving Jewish parents in a modest home in Joliet, Illinois.??

NOVAK: The family was not very observant. My father had never been Bar Mitzvahed and his father was not a very good Jew but I was Bar Mitzvahed.??

WOODRUFF: Novak calls the event his last association with Judaism. He says he never really connected with the faith.??So, the years passed and the little boy grew up, left for college, moved to Washington, became a fixture on the political scene, got married, had children and grandchildren, a full life, yet something was lacking.??

NOVAK: I was kind of feeling a spiritual need all those years. My wife Geraldine and I went to an Episcopalian Church for a while. Oh, it just seemed very political to me that a guy so liberal was talking about opposing the war in Vietnam and I didn’t want to hear that when I went to church. I wanted something spiritual.

WOODRUFF: Then in the early ’90s, the Novak’s discovered St. Patrick’s Catholic parish. They started attending services every Sunday.??

NOVAK: I liked them very much because they were about God and redemption and we’re all sinners but there is forgiveness and there was almost never anything political.??

WOODRUFF: But conversion was something he never contemplated until the late ’90s. He was in Syracuse giving a speech and he met a young woman and they got to talking about religion.??

NOVAK: And she said “Are you going to convert?” And, I said “No, we have no such plans.” And, she said “Well, Mr. Novak” she said, “Life is temporary but faith is eternal.”??

WOODRUFF: So one brief conversation with someone was enough to turn the key???

NOVAK: Well, it was the Holy Spirit talking to me. It was telling me that it was time to go. I had that feeling.

It’s a heartbreaking exchange and an indictment of the way Judaism has been presented to Jews, going back decades.



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Joshua Sharf

posted August 18, 2009 at 6:04 pm


That’s interesting, because I had thought that Novak had converted to Catholicism as early as the 80s. Apparently not. Still, there’s a long stretch from the mid 70s and the end of Vietnam to the early 90s and the beginning of St. Patrick’s, so it’s be interesting to know where he was during that time.
As for Judaism in the home, it’s pretty close to everything for keeping Jews Jewish. I’ve spoken with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross a number of times personally and over the air, and he’s been nothing but helpful, pleasant, and friendly during all our encounters. It’s clear that he harbors affection for, although not attachment to, Jews & Judaism despite his basically non-religious upbringing.
And yet, when he dedicates his book about his year in radical Islam to a Muslim and a Christian who talked to him about God, I can’t help wishing that a Jew had done that first.



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alex

posted August 18, 2009 at 7:27 pm


NOVAK: The family was not very observant.
MARK HERMAN, Rock singer called “The Jewggernaut”: I’m not very religious. I know about the holidays and I know what I should be doing for them, but I usually don’t do anything.
JOHN DENNING, Jewish NASCAR driver: “I’m not extremely religious, but I have a strong value for Jewish religion.”
I googled on “I’m not extremely religious” and “I’m not very religious” out of curiosity. (The two people above are Jewish, by coincidence, but there were plenty who weren’t.) I’ve heard people use it often. What are the people really thinking when they use this expression?



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Frank

posted August 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm


“it used to be that Jewishly educated Jews not infrequently converted whether from fear or ambition. But today, in the absence of such motives, it almost never happens.”
I’m sure that many people who converted out of Judaism whom you would call Jewishly uneducated would consider /themselves/ Jewishly educated.
That’s not meant to criticize your point, David, but it sounds like something you might wish to address.



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frank

posted August 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm


“it used to be that Jewishly educated Jews not infrequently converted whether from fear or ambition. But today, in the absence of such motives, it almost never happens.”
I’m sure that many people who converted out of Judaism whom you would call Jewishly uneducated would consider /themselves/ Jewishly educated.
That’s not meant to criticize your point, David, but it sounds like something you might wish to address.



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Your Name

posted August 18, 2009 at 9:33 pm


Apostasy Among American Jews
Daniel J. Elazar
Survey Information
After examining the results of this survey, it is fair to say that American Jewry is headed for some difficult and trying times ahead. The results of this study indicate that an increasing number of American Jews are identifying themselves as Christians.
The information for this study was acquired from data accumulated by the Council of Jewish Federations 1990 National Jewish Population Study. It was conducted by random digit dialing of respondents over the age of 18 in which 250,000 households were contacted and in which 125,000 were willing to participate and respond to questions asked. …
….By using a series of Gunman scales and selected variables, I attempted to measure the degree to which Judaism had been and was still a part of the respondents’ lives. The first item I used to test Jewishness among the respondents’ was Jewish education. I attempted to measure the intellectual cognitive involvement of the respondent in Jewish life. The steadfast Jews scored the highest with 32% of the people questioned responding that they have either gone to a Jewish school or they read Jewish books. The second group, those married to a gentile, scored 16%. It is not unusual that those that proclaimed no religion or those that claimed Christianity both scored 0%. However, this category does not provide sufficient information to make them apostates. It is not enough that they have little or no Jewish education, in order for them to be considered apostates they must actually denounce their religion.



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Harry J

posted August 18, 2009 at 11:05 pm


When listening to Robert Novak on the various shows he appeared on, or reading his columns I never got the feeling that he had Jewish values. By that I mean that he didn’t appear to look out for “the little guy”
or exude much in the way of empathy. He had an opinion that never was shaken by the facts, rather, he would rationalize it to make his argument fit.I hope that he found what he was looking for in his conversion and that he is resting in peace.



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Faith Defender

posted August 18, 2009 at 11:30 pm


z3wdfj
Not to be too flip about it, but I think Larry David said it best when he said, “they come onto our team, we don’t join their team.”
I, too, was incensed when I read about Novak’s conversion excuses. Although he never admitted as much, I know enough about D.C. politics that I seriously believe he did so for career advancement, at least to the extent he could feel more comfortable among the Catholic elite.
Then again, Novak always struck me as the worst form of “self-hating Jew.” If that was the case, then it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that he became an Apostate.



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Raphael

posted August 19, 2009 at 1:41 am


“THE number of American Jews who consider themselves religiously observant has dropped by more than 20 percent over the last two decades, as the share of Jews who consider themselves secular has risen. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that around 3.4 million American Jews call themselves religious — out of a general Jewish population of about 5.4 million. The number of Jews who identify themselves as only culturally Jewish has risen from 20 percent in 1990 to 37 percent last year, according to the study. In the same period, the number of all US adults who said they had no religion rose from 8 percent to 15 percent. According to this report, Jews are more likely to be secular than Americans in general.
About half of all US Jews – including those who consider themselves religiously observant – claim in the survey that they have a secular worldview and see no contradiction between that outlook and their faith, according to the study’s authors. Researchers attribute the trends among American Jews to the high rate of intermarriage and “disaffection from Judaism” in the United States.



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Turmarion

posted August 19, 2009 at 8:02 am


Harry J: When listening to Robert Novak on the various shows he appeared on, or reading his columns I never got the feeling that he had Jewish values. By that I mean that he didn’t appear to look out for “the little guy” or exude much in the way of empathy.
Looking out for the little guy and having empathy are Catholic values, too. Hopefully Mr. Novak got some such values he died. In any case, may he rest in peace.



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alex

posted August 19, 2009 at 8:40 am


@Turmarion: “Looking out for the little guy and having empathy are Catholic values, too.”
You don’t really believe Harry J was trying to imply otherwise, do you?



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Daniel Mann

posted August 19, 2009 at 10:11 am


David,
I have a lot of respect for your mission—“recovering the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible.” As one of those Jews who have embraced promised Messiah of the Hebrews, I too have grown in appreciation of those Scriptures, but with one difference. I am convinced that the Hebrew Scriptures point to Christ.
Therefore, I consumed your “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus” with great interest. I would be glad to dialogue with you regarding the issues you’ve raised. We could do this via your blog or via private emails, perhaps even converting it into a book somewhere along the line.



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Bozoer Rebbe

posted August 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm


I’m sure that many people who converted out of Judaism whom you would call Jewishly uneducated would consider /themselves/ Jewishly educated.
The average adult American Jew has 7 or fewer years of formal Jewish education. For the vast majority that don’t attend full time Hebrew day schools or yeshivas/girls schools, that means an hour or two after school or on Sunday for a total of about 4 or 5 hours a week, if that much – many synagogue/temple schools have cut back to one day a week because of conflicts with Jennifer and Jason’s soccer practice. Compare that to the 30 hours or so a normal elementary school week. In terms of classroom hours, the average adult American Jew has the equivalent of a second grade education. They may think that they are Jewishly educated, but they’re functional illiterates as far as Judaism is concerned. A typical fourth grader in a yeshiva or day school knows more about Judaism, it’s practices and beliefs, than the average adult American Jew.
NOTE TO DANIEL MANN: I’ll be happy to discuss Christian claims vis a vis the Hebrew bible with you and try to explain why virtually no Jewishly knowledgeable Jews have embraced Christianity for religious reasons over the past 2000 years. I have an academic background in comparative religion and have worked as a staff member of Jews For Judaism. You can reach me @ rokem@netzero.net.
You say that the “Hebrew Scriptures point to Christ”. What was your Jewish experience before becoming a Christian? Are you fluent in biblical Hebrew? Have you ever learned Talmud? Did you eat only kosher food or keep the Sabbath?
Isaiah 53 says that the “suffering servant” will live to see his biological offspring and have a long life. It also says that the Suffering Servant is not physically attractive, suffered from illness, and is despised and rejected by man. That this could be a prophecy about Jesus is absolutely contradicted by the New Testament which says that Jesus died relatively young, with no children. He’s described as physically beautiful, in great health, and that he had thousands of followers from all walks of life in Judea.
It’s easy to hit a bullseye when you draw the target after you shoot the arrow.



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Nathan

posted August 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm


Bozoer,
You need to define “Jewishly knowledgeable Jews” pretty narrowly to say no Jew ever converted to Christianity except those ignorant of Judaism (Saul of Tarsus, anyone?). Modern Judaism has come into being over the last 2,000 years in a period of conflict with Christianity and has been shaped intentionally to separate the two faiths by adopting Doctrines and biblical interpretation that appear to inherently contradict Christian doctrines. Perhaps people ignorant of normative modern Judaism are more likely to convert, but that doesn’t mean they are uneducated about *biblical* judaism or even Second Temple-era judaism. A lot of Jewish Christians I know are well-educated in these eras and find no conflict between such and Christianity (the period out of which Christianity emerged as a Jewish sect).
It’s easy to say Christianity is off the mark when the target (Judaism) is moved from where it was when the arrow was first shot 2,000 years ago.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 19, 2009 at 3:16 pm


Dear Bozoer,
I’m glad to see that you are bringing Scripture—something we both respect—into the discussion. You wrote:
“Isaiah 53 says that the ‘suffering servant’ will live to see his biological offspring and have a long life.”
The text doesn’t say “biological offspring” but rather “offspring”:
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”
Furthermore, from the context, we understand “offspring” to mean spiritual offspring. The text actually says that the Messiah will have no offspring:
Isaiah 53:8 “By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.”
The text also suggests that the offspring will be spiritual offspring who He will “justify” [make righteous]:
Isaiah 53:11 “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.”
I gladly accept your invitation for further dialogue.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 19, 2009 at 5:54 pm


Ezra,
I think you’re mistaken about “offspring/descendants” being used only for biological children. Try Isaiah on for size:
Isaiah 57:3-4 “But you–come here, you sons of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes! Whom are you mocking? At whom do you sneer and stick out your tongue? Are you not a brood of rebels, the offspring of liars?”
Clearly, Isaiah isn’t blaming these “rebels” for being “sons of a sorceress…offspring of adulterers and prostitutes” in a physical sense. They couldn’t all be sons of one sorceress! Instead, these “rebels” are figuratively sons of a sorceress.



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kernestm

posted August 19, 2009 at 7:44 pm


I found this very interesting particularly about the difference between “Yeshua and Yeshu”.
Stefan has done his time in the IDF, and now his brother is serving in the defence force.
Copied from Carmel Alert Aug14th 2009.
Stefan’s Comment: Israel Held Hostage.
Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God
For over 2000 years Israel has been held hostage. I do not mean Israel as a modern nation but I mean Israel as a people and in that people is every man and woman as an individual who has been born into, and brought up in a Jewish family that has any kind of Jewish identity. I am writing this to inform people of what is going amongst the Jewish people in Israel and around the world so that you can pray more specifically and better relate to us.
What we are taught by our mentors, parents and leaders has an affect on our entire life. If someone is taught, from a young age that the color white is in fact black, and the color black is in fact white, then that is what he will continue believing until someone else comes and tells him otherwise. When one is confronted with the truth of the matter, that what he has been taught is in fact wrong there is usually complete rejection of that truth because it ‘rocks the boat’ in an uncomfortable way.
Rom 3:1-2 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. (NKJ)
The oracles that Paul is speaking about here are the commandments that were given to Israel at Mt. Sinai, and I must say that over the generations the Jewish people, with the sages and the religious leaders, have done well at preserving these oracles of God. The lord did give a very clear instruction regarding the giving of these commandments: Deut 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (NKJ)
Deut 12:32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (NKJ)
The Lord is very clear here, we are not to add anything to what He commanded nor are we to subtract anything from what He commanded. Again in Proverbs 30:5-6, after describing YHWH in such a wonderful way, then asking the question, ‘what is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know’ king Solomon, in all his wisdom writes: ….. every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (NKJ)
Two events have taken place over the past 2000 years concerning these verses in the both Judaism and Christianity:
Firstly, Judaism has added myriads of rules and ‘commandments’ in order to ‘better fulfill’ the commandments given by God. These can be read in the Talmud which consists of the Mishna and the Gemara.
Secondly, Christianity has taken so much away from the word of God, categorizing believers who worship on the Sabbath or keep Gods feast days as ‘Judaizers’. These find their roots in early Church declarations aimed at cutting away any kind of “Jewish” practices and distancing the Church from Israel.
Presently in Israel, and in every Jewish community around the world, what the Rabbi(s) says is considered infallible, even to the point of his words or instructions being contrary to the word of God. This has brought the Jewish people to trust in their Rabbis, or religious leaders, and to obey their every command no matter what it is. It was the Rabbis who changed Yeshua’s name from Yeshua to Yeshu – a word made up of Yod, Shin and Vav, where each letter is the first letter of a word. The words made up of the letters from His ‘new’ name are, Yimah Shemo Vezichro, meaning, may His name and memory be blotted out or erased. In Israel most people do not know who Yeshua is, only Yeshu. In addition to this, when the traditional Jewish prayer books were complied (called ‘Sidur’ in Hebrew) prayers against the name of Yeshua were inserted in order to completely distance anyone who believes in His name from attending the Jewish synagogues which were always the main religious and social gathering places for the Jewish people. These books are used to pray out of during any kind of event (daily prayer times, feasts, the Sabbath etc.) therefore they are known well by those who use them often.
I should also add that many Jews do not heed the Rabbis or practise Judaism at all and are completely secular, however they are still under the same influence that comes down through the generations. As an example, even the most secular Jew will know Yeshua by the name ‘Yeshu’ and will say that He was a Christian and has nothing to do with Israel or the Jewish people.
Despite the fact that today’s Judaism is filled with so many man made rules and regulations, and the actions of many are extremely hypocritical, I do believe that the Lord has used this to preserve many of the things that He holds dear. I can say for certain that if the religious Jews did not have influence as they do inside the Israeli government (along with all of the harassment that this causes the believers in Israel) there would be no seventh day rest in Israel, as God commanded, and there would be no remembrance of any of God’s other feast days.
I believe that the religious leaders who were in power during the time that Yeshua was crucified and then rose from the dead, knew that what he spoke was true and that He was who He said He was but simply refused to believe. This because they realized that they were wrong and Yeshua was right in all the things He said concerning them and their hypocritical ways. He challenged the very traditions that they grew up with and the so called ‘truths’ they had believed in all their lives. A classic example can be found in Matt 15 and Mark 7, when the elders ask Yeshua why He and His disciples do not follow the traditions of the elders by washing their hand before they eat. Of course God never mentioned anything o the sort in His word, and Yeshua then quotes Isaiah and says -
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Matt 15:8-9, from Isa 29:13 NKJ)
From the verses below it is clear that the religious leaders knew what had really happened but simply did not want anyone to know.
Matt 28:11-15 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ “And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. (NKJ)
Since that day, and especially since 70 A.D when the temple was destroyed and the sect of the Pharisees dominated Judaism the Jewish people have been held hostage.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I believe that many of God’s commandments have been preserved by Judaism but at the same time the Jewish people have been prevented from anything that has to do with Yeshua or a personal relationship with the Creator. I understand that today the name of Jesus is difficult for Jews to hear because of the persecution that they have suffered in that name, but even before that happened the Jewish people were lied to by their own leadership, who valued and chose their position and tradition over the truth of God and His promised Messiah.
The Jewish people are in a spiritual prison today and are far from the truth found in Messiah Yeshua. Much like Paul and Silas found themselves in a physical prison, bound in chains and under strict guard, so are the Jewish people of today under the strict guard of the Rabbis. What they say goes, no matter what it is. When the Jewish people cry out to God and worship Him in spirit and in truth, as did Paul and Silas when they were in prison, then the chains will fall off and they will be free to walk in their calling and mandate, given to them so many years ago, to be a light to the nations and the entire world.
We are living in the end times, the time of the restoration of all things. He will restore truth in Israel. Let us continue to pray for the salvation of His people, that they may come to know their Messiah, who is found right there in the Jewish scriptures (O.T.), but has been kept from them for so long.



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Bozoer Rebbe

posted August 19, 2009 at 7:57 pm


I’m sure that many people who converted out of Judaism whom you would call Jewishly uneducated would consider /themselves/ Jewishly educated.
The average adult American Jew has 7 or fewer years of formal Jewish education. For the vast majority that don’t attend full time Hebrew day schools or yeshivas/girls schools, that means an hour or two after school or on Sunday for a total of about 4 or 5 hours a week, if that much – many synagogue/temple schools have cut back to one day a week because of conflicts with Jennifer and Jason’s soccer practice. Compare that to the 30 hours or so a normal elementary school week. In terms of classroom hours, the average adult American Jew has the equivalent of a second grade education. They may think that they are Jewishly educated, but they’re functional illiterates as far as Judaism is concerned. A typical fourth grader in a yeshiva or day school knows more about Judaism, it’s practices and beliefs, than the average adult American Jew.
NOTE TO DANIEL MANN: I’ll be happy to discuss Christian claims vis a vis the Hebrew bible with you and try to explain why virtually no Jewishly knowledgeable Jews have embraced Christianity for religious reasons over the past 2000 years. I have an academic background in comparative religion and have worked as a staff member of Jews For Judaism. You can reach me @ rokem@netzero.net.
You say that the “Hebrew Scriptures point to Christ”. What was your Jewish experience before becoming a Christian? Are you fluent in biblical Hebrew? Have you ever learned Talmud? Did you eat only kosher food or keep the Sabbath?
Isaiah 53 says that the “suffering servant” will live to see his biological offspring and have a long life. It also says that the Suffering Servant is not physically attractive, suffered from illness, and is despised and rejected by man. That this could be a prophecy about Jesus is absolutely contradicted by the New Testament which says that Jesus died relatively young, with no children. He’s described as physically beautiful, in great health, and that he had thousands of followers from all walks of life in Judea.
It’s easy to hit a bullseye when you draw the target after you shoot the arrow.



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Nathan

posted August 19, 2009 at 11:15 pm


The “proper” interpretation of Messianic prophesies can be argued ad nauseum. They’re inherently vague in some ways (yet specific in others) and easily applied in more than one fashion. Jesus of Nazareth was not the first person they were applied to, nor was he (nor will he) be the last. Whether Isaiah means the “suffering servant” see biological off spring or Almah means virgin or young lady will never be resolved to the other side’s satisfaction.
What is comes down to is the New Testament’s claims of the Resurrection of Jesus and whether it happened or not. If it did not happen, then Jesus cannot be the Messiah and his claims to be so are false. But if he is risen, then his Messianic claims are vindicated, and debates over whether this passage or that passage correctly foretells of him (or is misinterpreted) falls by the wayside in the face of such vindication. The reality of his Messiahship then dictates the proper interpretation, not the other way around.
If he is risen, God has declared him to be the Messiah and the King of Israel, son of David and the Jew who declares so is actually engaged in the right Jewish faith. If he is not risen, he is none of these things. There is frankly no empirical way today to prove with certainty whether the resurrection took place or not, and we cannot convince the other side. Neither side can claim to prove of disprove such an historically-described event with their respective interpretations of related scriptures. It comes down to the faith of each individual about this particular, happenstance.



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Nathan

posted August 19, 2009 at 11:19 pm


The “proper” interpretation of Messianic prophesies can be argued ad nauseum. They’re inherently vague in some ways (yet specific in others) and easily applied in more than one fashion. Jesus of Nazareth was not the first person they were applied to, nor was he (nor will he) be the last. Whether Isaiah means the “suffering servant” see biological off spring or Almah means virgin or young lady will never be resolved to the other side’s satisfaction.
What is comes down to is the New Testament’s claims of the Resurrection of Jesus and whether it happened or not. If it did not happen, then Jesus cannot be the Messiah and his claims to be so are false. But if he is risen, then his Messianic claims are vindicated, and debates over whether this passage or that passage correctly foretells of him (or is misinterpreted) falls by the wayside in the face of such vindication. The reality of his Messiahship then dictates the proper interpretation, not the other way around.
If he is risen, God has declared him to be the Messiah and the King of Israel, son of David and the Jew who declares so is actually engaged in the right Jewish faith. If he is not risen, he is none of these things. There is frankly no empirical way today to prove with certainty whether the resurrection took place or not, and we cannot convince the other side. Neither side can claim to prove of disprove such an historically-described event with their respective interpretations of related scriptures. It comes down to the faith of each individual about this particular event.
(sorry for the double post, I made a typo at the end from last minute edits)



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Scott R.

posted August 19, 2009 at 11:19 pm


Any Jew that embraces Xianity and the idol JC has sacrificed their soul, which will be snuffed out by G-D when they die. G-D does not accept idolatry amongst his people.



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Zvi I Weiss

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:42 am


How sad — a rather bright man who knew
NOTHING about his faith chooisng to “convert out”
because of a chance conversation. It is even sadder
that this man apparently made NO EFFORT to find out
ANYTIHNG serious about the faith that he chose to leave.
Yes — it is sad that there is so little Jewish education
for so many Jews. But it is also sad when such Jews
seem to make NO EFFORT to find out about their faith.



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Daniel Mann

posted August 20, 2009 at 11:13 am


Nathan,
You correctly identify the Resurrection as the key issue. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then the Christian faith is a dead hope. However, there is a wealth historical evidence in favor of the Resurrection. You might read William Lane Craig or Lee Strobel on this issue (I might even be coaxed to write something up in defense of this contention.)
You might also be interested to know that there are numerous prophesies from the Hebrew Bible that prophesy that Israel will reject their Messiah, as they had been rejecting their God. (I say this out of love for my Jewish brethren in order to provoke some openness to their Messiah).



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Marian

posted August 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm


A hundred years ago, many Jewish immigrants to the U.S. left Judaism because it was not sufficiently in tune with the material realities of the New World. It was too “other-worldly”, too spiritual. Over the last 40 years or so, Jews have started converting out because they find Judaism not spiritual ENOUGH. I don’t feel entitled to pass judgment on Novak, may he rest in peace, or on his brand of Catholicism. I hope it gave him what he needed.



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Turmarion

posted August 20, 2009 at 1:12 pm


Nathan: Excellent posts. That’s something that Jews and Christians both tend to miss. Christian interpretations of the Old Testament as foretelling Jesus of Nazareth were developed retrospectively by those who already believed that he was the Messiah who had risen from the dead (cf. Luke 24:13-35). Likewise, the rabbinical Jewish interpretation of the OT was retrospectively developed in light of the activities of the Prophets, the destruction of both Temples, and the aftermath of the Babylonian captivity. Both Jewish and Christian interpretations of the OT are based on prior religious committments, and therefore any attmepts by either side to “prove” itself right on the basis of Scripture is doomed to failure.



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Karesky

posted August 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm


Daniel Mann – go do your preaching on a mountain top far away from me. Christianity was created by people long after Jesus was born – he died a commited jew who never rejected his Judaism or the Torah. I seriously doubt you know much about the real history of Christianity but then few Christians do. Their usual “proofs” for the “ressurection” were “its in the bible” or “the disciples saw it happen.”



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Karesky

posted August 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm


Daniel Mann – go do your preaching on a mountain top far away from me. Christianity was created by people long after Jesus was born – he died a commited Jew who never rejected his Judaism or the Torah. I seriously doubt you know much about the real history of Christianity but then few Christians do. Their usual “proofs” for the “ressurection” were “its in the bible” or “the disciples saw it happen.”



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LazerA

posted August 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm


Just two brief comments to Nathan:
1. I would be interested in hearing your evidence that Paul (Saul) of Tarsus was a genuinely knowledgeable Jew other than the New Testament simple assertion that he was a Pharisee. In any event, it is worth noting that, according to the New Testament, Paul did not convert based upon any textual evidence or philosophical argument, but based on a personal revelation. This would argue against the existence of any such arguments.
2. I would interested in knowing what connection there is between coming back from the dead and the Messiah. While I don’t believe Jesus came back from the dead, I fail to see how doing so would make him the Messiah. The Messiah has a number of responsibilities – none of which were done by Jesus – coming back from the dead is not one of them.



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Cully

posted August 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm


Can someone recommend a book about the life of Hillel (other than “Meet the Rabbis”)?



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm


Cully, re Hillel, you’re in luck. This new title seems interesting: http://academictalmud.blogspot.com/2009/08/review-l-rieser-hillel-narratives.html



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 20, 2009 at 3:57 pm


That’s well said, LazerA. Re Paul, the fact that he depended on the Septuagint, errors and all, for his Scriptural citations rather than the Hebrew Bible would suggest that, like Philo and other Jewish residents of that Hellenistic world, he couldn’t comfortably manage with Hebrew. That would be a pretty good indication, as a very simple test, regardless of what he himself claimed, that he was no “rabbi.”



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Gil

posted August 20, 2009 at 4:56 pm


During the period of the Roman Empire no one was ever crucified by religious instigation. Only those who were plotting vs Caesar. Only question asked of Jesus in his trial: “Are you king of the Jews?” This abbreviated inscription was placed atop Jesus’ cross by his Roman executioners.



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Harrietb98

posted August 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm


Some Jewish people convert to Christianity when they marry a Christian. Others just don’t find the understanding, in Judaism.



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Cully

posted August 20, 2009 at 5:30 pm


Thank you, David. I also got a referral for The Life and Teachings of Hillel by Buxbaum.



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Gavriella

posted August 21, 2009 at 12:29 pm


David’s last comment was: “It’s a heartbreaking exchange and an indictment of the way Judaism has been presented to Jews, going back decades.”
Oh no David, don’t stop there. That’s like hurling an accusation and then not backing it up. It happens to be among the few times I agree with you, but let’s have more on this subject. It’s so right – instead of uniting, our people have become divided over the flimsiest nonsense, i.e., how kosher is kosher, whether a woman should or should not be beaten for wearing a red blouse in public, or even if she should be covered in a bourqa like her Muslim sisters, etc. What ever happened to rejoicing in Torah and deeds of lovingkindness that should be taught as part of every Jew’s heritage?
C’mon David, go for it – let’s hear your views on real spirituality!
Gavriella



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David Klinghoffer

posted August 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm


Shmuely, Paul never claimed to be a rabbi but it’s become popular in some of the sillier Christian and Jewish-Christian circles today to refer to him as “Rabbi Paul” or “Rabbi Shaul.” A fairly well regarded professor even wrote a book called “Rabbi Paul”: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385508638/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=038550862X&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1WY0S0HAHEVMM5BT23XW



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Your Name

posted August 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm


My father(Jewish)married my mother(Catholic). I was baptised Catholic based on the traditions of a child being raised based on the mothers religion. I was named after the last deseased male, another Jewish tradition. Neither my mother or father because of the fact they were both divorsed fely welcomed back into thier own faith. It was a shame becasue it wasn’t until after my father based away and he was given a proper Jewish funeral, that I learned of the customes and the traditions of the faith. I am proud to be the son of a JEW. I honor the commandments of Moses and the prophets. Even though I was brought up Catholic, I still honor my fathers ways. I consider myself to be a Judaian Christian. I accept that Jesus was raised in the Jewish faith. I accepts his teachings. Jesus did not come to condem the world but to save it.
I only wish more Christians would accept and follow the customs and traditions Jesus followed. I have often said that Christians should celebrate Passover, and the Jewish High Holy Holidays much like Jesus did.
In closing I am part Jewish and Christian. I have taken the areas where there is agreement and left the rest up to GOD.
Shalom



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Daniel Mann

posted August 25, 2009 at 4:14 pm


LazarA,
I would like to answer your question, “I would [be] interested in knowing what connection there is between coming back from the dead and the Messiah. While I don’t believe Jesus came back from the dead, I fail to see how doing so would make him the Messiah. The Messiah has a number of responsibilities – none of which were done by Jesus – coming back from the dead is not one of them.”
The connection between Messiah and a resurrection following His death is profound. In every portrait we find in the Hebrew Scriptures about Messiah’s death, we also find a cryptic reference to His subsequent life. Here are two examples of this strange and theologically pregnant correspondence (These examples are also regarded as Messianic by Jewish commentators!):
Isaiah 53:10 “Yet it was the LORD’S will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering [Death!], he will see his offspring and prolong his days [Life!], and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”
Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me [Life!], the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him [Death!] as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Also, notice here the plurality of Persons in the Divinity!)
If all the references to Messiah’s death also include a cryptic reference to His subsequent resurrected life, this becomes a clear demonstration that resurrection is a significant mark of Messiah!



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Mergatroid

posted August 25, 2009 at 8:37 pm


@ Daniel Mann: Something tells me that you only saw the Christian links here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_53#Notes_and_references
and not the Jewish ones.
And as far as Zechariah is concerned, have a fun hour listening to:
http://outreachjudaism.org/mp3/Zechariah%2012_10%20new.mp3



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Mergatroid

posted August 30, 2009 at 1:19 am


@Daniel “Zech. 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me [Life!], the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him [Death!] as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Also, notice here the plurality of Persons in the Divinity!)”
Ooh, it says “pierced” so it must be referring to Jesus! Hey, why not continue to the next chapter of Zechariah:
“On that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for cleansing and for sprinkling. And it shall come to pass on that day, says the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no more be remembered; and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass from the land. And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother who bore him shall say to him, You shall not live; for you speak lies in the name of the Lord; and his father and his mother who bore him shall PIERCE him through when he prophesies. And it shall come to pass on that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed everyone of his vision, when he has prophesied; nor shall they wear a hairy mantle in order to deceive; But he shall say, I am not a prophet, I am a tiller of the soil; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth. And one shall say to him, What are these wounds in your hands? Then he shall answer, those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”



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Range Rover

posted August 30, 2009 at 12:43 pm


There is another reason Jews convert to other religions: There is for some of us an emptiness in Judaism, with its emphasis on ritual and its continual emphasis on how “nonhuman” G-d is.
There is also a distinct emphasis on materialism in American Jewish culture, as well as political agendas — like advocacy for Israel.
You cannot even go to a synagogue during the day to just sit and pray; most are locked except during the prescribed prayer services.
And my background is that I was born and raised Orthodox, and both of my parents were survivors of the Holocaust.
And yet I am seriouly considering convertiong to Catholicism, just as Mr. Novak did, so that I may have some kind of direct relationship with G-d and so that apart from keeping Kosher, and lighting candles, etc., there is something to my life that is spiritual and soul enriching.
A lot of Jews abandon Judaism for those kinds of reasons, not out of ignorance of their faith.



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rez

posted August 30, 2009 at 8:56 pm


I was struck by Mr Novak’s statement that that the Holy Spirit told him it was time to convert. It is the exact same reason I converted to Catholocism from Judaism over 40 years ago and I remain a committed practicing Catholic to this day. I was born into the wrong religion for me.



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Mergatroid

posted August 30, 2009 at 11:59 pm


Maybe it wasn’t the Holy Spirit that told you two to convert, but teen spirit.



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R. Schoeman

posted August 31, 2009 at 11:22 am


A Jew who enters the Church is not, if Christianity is true, a convert at all. If Jesus was who he said he was, he was the Jewish Messiah and the Church he left behind is simply post-Messianic Judaism. In this view, Judaism and Christianity are not be two separate religions, but two phases of the one true religion – the preparatory stage, available to a single ethnic group in order to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, and then the fully realized stage, in which the ultimate relationship between God and Man is made available to all peoples (through the Church). Hence a Jew who enters the Church is not converting at all – he is still be a Jew, one faithfully following the Jewish Messiah according to the new way that he (the Messiah) instituted. This is the view I hold, as a Jew in the Catholic Church, as well as virtually every other Jewish Catholic I have ever met or read about. We all consider ourselves more Jewish than ever – we simply went from being Jews who were wrong about who Jesus was, to Jews who were right about who he was. It is wrong to conclude that a Jew who enters the Church loses his Jewish identity.
For more exploration of this, I would refer interested parties to either of my books “Salvation is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History from Abraham to the Second Coming”, and “Honey from the Rock: 16 Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ”, both published by Ignatius Press, as well as to my website http://www.salvationisfromthejews.com (through which I can be contacted), and the website of the Association of Hebrew Catholics (i.e. Jews in the Catholic Church): http://www.hebrewcatholic.org .



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Mergatroid

posted August 31, 2009 at 12:18 pm


@Schoeman: “Hence a Jew who enters the Church is not converting at all – he is still be a Jew, one faithfully following the Jewish Messiah according to the new way that he (the Messiah) instituted. This is the view I hold, as a Jew in the Catholic Church, as well as virtually every other Jewish Catholic I have ever met or read about. ”
It’s hard to argue with that, but name one person between the, say, 300′s and the early 1900′s who felt the same way. St John Chrysostom, I suspect, would not feel that way.



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csd

posted January 25, 2011 at 11:32 am


I thank G-d for the Jews! Speaking as a devout Christian (and gentile) who has been, lifelong, continually drawn into the company of Jews (growing up in an immigrant neighborhood, attending public school, dating a Jewish beau, studying at University, visiting Israel, having a life-changing experience at the Wailing Wall, exercising at the health club) as well as having befriended Jewish Christians, I find the comments here most intriguing and only wish to affirm that it is the ever trustworthy Jesus throughout my life (and His mother) who sustain me no matter what/no matter where, and without Him my life would have been wasted. As the old hymn goes, “Only His Loved Ones Know.” Many of the Jews of His day “got It” and followed Him. As we see here in this website, the process continues to this day. Gentiles saw too, and got It. As the acorn is to the oak, so Judaism is to Christianity – one grew out of the other. Blessings to y’all – and shalom.



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