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We’re a vital community and we are attracting President Bush and others who want to speak to us.” Despite their rejection by mainstream Jewry, Messianic Jews are not entirely outside the tent.
Resnik says members of his congregation donate to local federations and are accepted to a degree as volunteers, making fundraising calls, visiting the Jewish elderly and teaching English to Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Ariel notes that a recent call by a British Reform rabbi to be more accepting of the movement stirred little outcry.
The World Congress of Jewish Studies, which takes place every four years in Jerusalem, featured a panel on Messianic Jews this year — something Ariel has been seeking for decades. “There are hundreds of Messianic congregations in America.
“Someone looking at this in the American context, who is not well versed in Jewish history, does not look at this and say that is a nuclear issue,” said Tevi Troy, a former deputy health secretary and top liaison to the Jewish community under Bush.
Troy emphasized that his boss has always been sensitive to Jewish concerns.
Bush granted Messianic Jews a brief shining moment in the spotlight last week — and then just as quickly sent them back into the shadows.
Bush went ahead, the sources said, not because he favored the movement’s mission of proselytizing but because he thought backing out would be bad form.“We should be viewed as allies and not opponents.” Resnik says proselytizing should not be the determining factor for mainstream Jews in considering a relationship with Messianic Jews.The Jewish establishment also should take into account the longing for Jewish connection and community among Messianic Jews, he said.Especially irksome are bids to convert what are seen as vulnerable populations, Russian and Ethiopian Jews in particular.The Dallas group Bush addressed touts its efforts in that regard prominently on its website.