Christian Jew in the Temple
One of my congregants, whom I shall call Dave, professes dual religious loyalties. He was born of aJewish mother, who rejected Judaism and raised him in the Greek Orthodox Church. He is presently amember both of our local Foursquare Church (which he serves as a deacon) and of our Temple (which heserves as a director and chair of the Building and Grounds Committee, and he participates actively insocial action work and in the Bible study sessions). He is circumcised, wears
, as well as abeard, and dons
for his morning devotions.He considers himself an authentic Jew, and as his am satisfied that there is no contradiction in hisreligious life and therefore find his activities at Temple acceptable and welcome.However, this satisfaction is not shared by either his pastor (with whom I am otherwise good friends) or bya number of members in my Temple, one of whom has also written to your Committee. My friend, thepastor, "deeply appreciates and admires Dave's dedication and enthusiasm" [in the church] but feels"some discomfort" about it, as do "dissenting voices in his congregation."My convictions in the matter can be stated as follows:1) we do not feel that we have the right to "deligitimize" anyone else's Jewishness if his/her expression of Jewishness is rational and sincere;2) we consider it a credit to our own generation that, for the first time in 1900 years, it is possible for aperson to be a "Christian Jew" without suffering total rejection or even life-threatening violence for practicing such a faith.The position I have taken has created considerable controversy in my congregation, which has, onoccasion, become passionate. While we serve a congregation affiliated with the UAHC, I have anOrthodox ordination. Rabbi Abraham I. Raich, Santa Maria, CA)
We will address your two above-noted points in order, for they do indeed touch on the main points atissue.1. Under traditional halachah, a claim can be made that Dave was born of a Jewish mother, regardless of whether she converted to Greek Orthodoxy before or after he was born. But he would have toacknowledge his exclusive return to Judaism in order to be accepted in the community. If he was born aJew but raised as a Christian he would not be considered an apostate; rather he would be like a
ababe growing up among Gentiles
category that was applied to the Karaites.
Such a person returns tothe community through an affirmation ceremony.The approach is different under the patrilineal doctrine of the Reform movement, Dave would have toconvert even if his mother had never accepted another faith, for as one born into a mixed marriage he isonly presumptively Jewish.
Reform conversion ceremonies require renunciation of the convert's former faith.