Y'all. This is where my gloves come off.
I was just given the missionary treatment by two Jews for Jesus representatives at the Foggy Bottom metro station. For the first woman, I just gave her the "Talk to the Hand" move and kept walking. The guy saw me coming and persisted in trying to give me literature. I stopped in my tracks and said, "Emphatically Not." I would have kept talking but I felt like I would say too much, too angrily, too publicly.
So here I am. Telling you. Jews for Jesus are what I respectfully call *CHRISTIANS.* I will not even discuss the slamdunk fact that proves my point (the group's origins as a Christian evangelical offshoot), but will focus on the basic beliefs that make their claims to be Jews for Jesus impossible.
Jews for Jesus are not Jews. If they want to be Former Jews Who Have Accepted Jesus As Their Lord and Savior, then I will throw them the renaming party myself and give them all the honor and respect that conveys. Truly. I think it goes without saying that in this day and age, most of us (at least the people I would associate with anyway), firmly believe in and would fight for anyone's right to practice and devoutly believe in the religion of their choice. That is not the issue. The issue is that Jews For Jesus are, as the first page of their web site says, committed to "evangelizing unsaved Jews." They believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Jews do not. Which, therefore means, quite easily and simply: they are not Jews.
I will simply say this: Jews are waiting for the Messiah. Christians already know who he is and await his RETURN. The two are, for all practical purposes, mutually exclusive. If my messiah has not yet arrived, I cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ/the Messiah, then you cannot, by definition, be Jewish.
Obviously there are so many other tenets that comprise both Judaism and Christianity, but can we all agree that these would be, oh, the kinda important, elemental ones? Imagine if you will, a group called Muslims for Jesus. Sound ludicrous? You bet it does. Why? Because "there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." Islam 101. Kind of rules out the Jesus thing, right? Imagine if you will Christians for Simon Bar Kokhba (check your Roman/Jewish war history for military leaders as putative messiahs-based-on-military-victories). Christians for Bar Kokhba just makes no sense, to Christians as well as Jews.
So--why is that everyone is so easily led down the primrose path by Jews for Jesus? Because Jesus was a Jew? Because it sure would help in the "can't we all just get along?" effort? I don't know. But here's what I do know: the straight dope on Jews and the Messiah, right outta the Torah. So hear me out--and then I can get off this topic because it raises my blood pressure, which creates broken capillaries, which mars the face and legs, which detracts from the radiance of my milky white complexion. Many Thanks for hearing me out.
(Thanks to the good people at Jews for Judaism for helping me with the specifics here):
The Jewish tradition of "The Messiah" has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands "The Messiah" to be a human being - without any overtone of deity or divinity - who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as "The Messiah".
First of all, he must be Jewish - "...you may appoint a king over you, whom the L-rd your G-d shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you." (Deuteronomy 17:15)
He must be a member of the tribe of Judah - "The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the sceptre from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10)
To be a member of the tribe of Judah, the person must have a biological father who is a member of the tribe of Judah.
He must be a direct male descendant of King David and King Solomon, his son - "And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever..." (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13).
He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel -"And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)
Are all Jews living in Israel? Not yet.
He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - "...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)
At last check, there is NO Temple in Jerusalem.
He will rule at a time of world-wide peace - "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)
How are we doing on this one?
He will rule at a time when the Jewish people will observe G-d's commandments - "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)
The Torah is the Jewish guide to life, and its commandments are the ones referred to here. Do all Jews observe all the commandments? No we don't. I ain't proud, I'm just speakin' the truth.
He will rule at a time when all people will come to acknowledge and serve one G-d - "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the L-rd" (Isaiah 66:23)
There are still millions, if not billions of people who practice Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other religions. It is clear that we have not yet seen this period of human history unfold.
All of these criteria are best stated in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 37 verses 24-28:
And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. they shall also follow My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their G-d and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the L-rd who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.
If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah." A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that to date, no one has fulfilled every condition.
Short Story Long: And so, as Jews, we wait....while avoiding the green T-shirted missionaries in the train stations and airports!