Fortunately, the very next Shabbat we were in LA in an Orthodox home, all arranged by Rabbi Parry. He showed us around and helped us out. This experience was even better then the Chanukah party. I was so extremely happy that my host said that I seemed to be bubbling over with joy several times. I am still amazed when I look back at this experience. It was like coming home from a long trip, not even knowing that you were gone.
After several years of marriage my husband and I became interested in religion and how we would raise our children. Neither of us had much of a religious upbringing but we felt some pulling, something tugging at us to connect with G-d. We had attended a few churches in college and we never fit in, there was just something that wasn’t right. We decided to pick up the phone book and look under synagogues. There was one listed, and since we had no idea that Messianic Judaism is not a recognized form of Judaism we called for the meeting times and set out on our adventure.
Our first Friday night was an interesting one. We were welcomed with great enthusiasm and once they heard my husbands name we were told that we were even more special because we were Jewish. We heard about kosher laws that first night, and when we left we vowed never to eat pork products again. The ham we had in our fridge went into the garbage the minute we got home. The very next day we went to our first Saturday service. It was like sunshine to my soul. There was dancing, and singing, and so many friendly people. It wasn’t the same as the church experiences we had in the past. We felt like we belonged.
We got involved right away. We attended orientiation classes, helped with cleanup and anything else that needed attention. We started taking dance classes and found that we picked it up rather quickly. Within a month we were a part of the dance team. We both started to study scriptures and were amazed at how many old testament prophecies spoke of Yeshua. We learned about feast days and other Jewish holidays, and how Yeshua supposedly fit into them with a smooth seam between the Torah and the NT.
A couple of years in, my husband decided that he wanted to become a Messianic Rabbi. We went and talked with the leader of our congregation and he was thrilled with our decision. He gave my husband more leadership opportunities, and soon we were in charge of Saturday night services for the end of Shabbat. I was then doing children’s ministry and my husband taught bar/bat mitzvah classes. We were the people that others came to when they had a question, and great things were expected of us.
Eventually my husband and I had reached the point where no one in leadership could answer our questions or teach us what we wanted to learn. We were told to go to a Chabad store and get books, but not to actually talk to anyone from Chabad.
This was an interesting statement to me. I found it very strange. We were told that we were the bridge between Christians and Jews as Messianic believers, but while we were encouraged to reach out to the churches around us, we were told to stay away from Jewish organizations, especially Jews for Judaism. We went against leadership when we attended a Chanukah party put on by a nearby Chabad house. We felt even more at home there and we had a blast. However the Chabad Rabbi let us know what he thought about Messianics over the phone the next day. It hurt so bad because we thought that we were in the right place. When we got off the phone with him we called our Messianic leader and spoke to him about it. We were invited up to his house where he went on and on about the dangers involved with talking to Orthodox Jews, and how we would always be greeted with animosity because we believed in Yeshua. He even went on to say that if a day came where we no longer believed we would never be accepted by the Orthodox community, because we were once Messianic. We stayed because we were too scared to leave. We believed what the Messianic leader told us. We tried to put the Chabad experience into the back of our brains and forget about it.
At this time I joined some e-groups to try to sort out my beliefs. I figured that if there was no way that Yeshua was NOT the messiah then my faith would be strengthened. I sent out the following question to the Messianic groups I was on, “How do you know for sure that Yeshua is the Messiah?” I only got one response from an ex-believer in NY. We started to type back and forth, and I found that even though he once was part of the messianic movement, even going as far as studying to become a rabbi like my husband, he was still accepted within the Jewish community.
At this point I suspected that we had been lied to, but it had been drummed into me so much that Yeshua is the Messiah that I was stuck. What to do? I prayed and prayed asking G-d to show me. The struggle was immense; after all, if I rejected Yeshua and he was the messiah then I would be roasting in hell for all of eternity.
The answer came to me in the middle of worship and it hit me like a brick. The song was praising Yeshua and the TNK says that you should only worship Hashem. The TNK also says that G-d is not a man, yet here we were singing that he came down in the form of Yeshua. I wanted to turn and run away but I couldn’t.
I then decided I had to get out of the Messianic movement. I had no idea how I was going to get the nerve to do it, but it had to be done. I sent out the following question to an antimissionary e-group: “For the people who once were in MJ how did you get out? How long did it take you?” I was answered by Rabbi Moshe Shulman. He took the time to assure me that what I had been thinking was correct, it is not Jewish to think that Yeshua is the Messiah. He gave me support with how to deal with my husband at this time.
I have not yet mentioned my husband’s reaction to my wanting to leave. To put it simply, he did not want to go. He was very happy there, life was good. He was trying to heed the warnings of our leaders. “Don’t get into a discussion with any Orthodox Jew, let alone an antimissionary.” For the first time in our marriage we were fighting. My support was in NY, I didn’t know anyone out here in CA where we live. In a reply e-mail from my ex-messianic friend in NY he told me that he knew of a really nice Rabbi out here in CA. He gave me contact information so we could meet this rabbi. We got into contact with Rabbi Aaron Parry from Jews for Judaism (www.jewsforjudaism.org; also www.tworoadsonepath.com), and we met at a kosher pizza place in LA. The meeting went very well. We wanted to tell other people about the meeting but couldn’t, because we were already under suspicion because people thought we were “becoming too Orthodox.”
A couple of weeks after meeting Rabbi Parry we went away on vacation to Colorado. While there we visited a Messianic congregation that was trying very hard to look Orthodox. For the first time we saw how ridiculous that was. The next day we went to a Conservative Synagogue for Shabbat services with some friends who used to attend the same Messianic congregation. We talked about a lot of issues within the Messianic movement well into the night. They said that they had to leave, and find themselves within a Jewish community. Later that night my husband decided that it was time for us leave the Messianic movement.
Our last day at the Messianic congregation was awful. We just told the leader that Hashem was moving us somewhere else, and we didn’t know where. We wanted to leave on good terms but, alas, that was a dream. We were told that we were contaminated and other rather not nice things. We are officially shunned and no one at the congregation we used to attend is allowed to have anything to do with us. We lost all of our friends, and everything that we had known for 3 years, in one fell swoop.
Fortunately, the very next Shabbat we were in LA in an Orthodox home, all arranged by Rabbi Parry. He showed us around and helped us out. This experience was even better then the Chanukah party. I was so extremely happy that my host said that I seemed to be bubbling over with joy several times. I am still amazed when I look back at this experience. It was like coming home from a long trip, not even knowing that you were gone. Unfortunately we had to leave Saturday night. We had told some people that we would meet them at a Messianic conference that was also being held that weekend. The experience was surreal. I can not explain it. We only stayed long enough to say hi to our friends, and then we left. We were going to stay longer, but we knew that we no longer belonged.
The next Shabbat we spent in LA with friends of Rabbi Shulman. I found it amazing that people who didn’t even know us would open their homes and welcome us. That weekend is still a blur to me. It was Rosh Hashanah, and, in a way, it was a whole new beginning.