Preface This article looks at the Jesus movement in Jerusalem during the early 1970’s and is a preview for

a book due for publication in September 2012. Find out more details at: messianicjudaismnetwork.com

Jesus Movement Reaches Jerusalem
By Jim Becka
Jerusalem is the site of wars and the most important event in history, the crucifixion and resurrection of the Messiah Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). I arrived in the city the summer of 1973 as the sun was going down and spent the first couple of hours walking the streets and looking at the impressive walls of the 3,500 year-old city. My friends in Texas asked me why I was fascinated with Jerusalem and wanted to go there. I could not give a reason. Texas is a long way from the Middle East and few would equate Texas with Jewish culture, but when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE (AD in the Christian calendar) the surrounding inhabitants were spread throughout the world. Some of them, like my family, ended up in Texas, though I did not know my family lineage when I traveled to Jerusalem. My dad’s parents made their way from Czechoslovakia to Galveston and Central Texas. I would find out later, partially through DNA tests, that they were descendents of Temple priests, Levites, direct descendents of Aaron, brother of Moses. The name “Becka” is very rare in the United States and is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “Temple Tax”, an appropriate name for a Levite. Time went by quickly my first night in Jerusalem and the streets soon emptied. I began looking for a hotel. My trip to Jerusalem was poorly planned and I did not know the city or any of the inhabitants. There were no tour guides or fellow travelers. I was alone and walked in circles, lost.

Jim Becka, 1973 passport
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Around midnight, other than a dark figure following me, I was the only person on the street. “Would you like to buy some drugs?” He asked in perfect English from behind. “No” I said abruptly as I continued walking. I was an American college student, dirty, and on the streets in the middle of the night. He must have assumed I was not on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. “How about a girl? I can get you a girl right now,” he continued. I was tired, wanted sleep, and not interested in immoral behavior, but this guy would not leave me alone. Thirty minutes later he was still following me. I looked to the sky and prayed, “Lord, I am exhausted and want to sleep, but, it appears you have other plans for me tonight. You want me to talk with this guy. ” We now stood under a streetlight and I could make out the features of a young Arab man. “I am not interested in drugs or prostitutes,” I began. “Several months ago Jesus came into my life and made me a new creature, and those old immoral things passed away.” He listened quietly as I explained that the Lord has a plan for all lives, and it begins with accepting Jesus. “Some Jews told me this yesterday,” he blurted out. “They told me Jesus loves

Messianic Jewish baptisms at Pool of Siloam, 1973.

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the Arabs as much as he does Jews.” He became very excited and insisted I meet his Jewish friends, which I did the next day. They invited me to live in the Old City, behind the Damascus Gate. I realized that a tour guide was not needed. The Lord was taking care of all the arrangements. The Messianic Jews had a fellowship on Prophet Street that held services throughout the week. Since I was the only one able to play a musical instrument, guitar, I led singing. The Jerusalem community loved to sing and dance. I sat on the top of a piano playing and singing as people poured in from the busy street outside. The Orthodox Jewish community was openly antagonistic toward the Jesus movement, but most Jews were inquisitive and I spent many hours sharing Christ. “I wanted to know more about this Jesus that I was told all my life did not exist,” said a Russian Jew who accepted Jesus in Israel. Our fellowship held baptismal services at the pool of Siloam, the place that Jesus healed a blind man. We also occasionally took part in meetings with other mainstream Christian denominations. Though Messianic Jews have accepted Jesus, they still consider themselves Jews. “Many think Messianic Jews are converts to Christianity, “ said one member of our fellowship, Alex Vig, a Jew from New York as we sat in a Jerusalem restaurant one day. “But, Christians are really converts to Judaism.” Messianic Jews point out that Jesus never stated that he intended to set up a new religion, separate from Judaism. They also point out that Jesus still observed Jewish holy days and took part in Temple worship. I learned more about the First Century followers of Jesus from a Danish tour guide at the Garden Tomb, a short distance from my Jerusalem home. We often sat by the Garden Tomb and talked. “Most people say the Jews didn’t accept Jesus, but that is not true,” he said one day as we drank lemonade. “All the first followers of Jesus were Jews. They followed him in large numbers and First Century Jewish Law upheld his legitimacy as the Jewish Messiah.” The message of the Garden Tomb moderator, though spoken 40 years ago is becoming very popular with Jews and gentiles today. To my knowledge, we were the only Messianic Jewish congregation in Jerusalem during the Jesus movement, but there are now 15-20. Also, many non-Jews have become interested in the customs of Jesus and the First Century church. Jewish Seders, commonly referred to as the Last Supper in the New Testament, are becoming popular in 3

Christian churches. Persecution of Jewish followers of Jesus was intense during the Jesus movement. One night the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a militant organization headed (at that time) by Rabbi Meir Kaahane attempted to stage a riot during one of our services. The JDL is a violent organization. While many Jews advocate passive resistance to anti-Semitism, the JDL encourages taking up arms. They have been linked to bombings of Russian organizations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) labeled the group a right-wing terrorist group in 2001 because of their violence. I was leading worship when a young man stood and began shouting that Hitler was a Christian. Other JDL rushed into our meeting and attempted to provoke us to fight. When none of the worshippers would fight, the JDL attempted to break furniture and windows. Messianic Jews make their way through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. It leads under the walls of During the confusion, a Jerusalem. JDL was injured and lay unconscious on the floor. The of a great revival preparing to sweep the land of JDL rioters became quiet and Israel. Modern Israel has Jewish followers of Jesus eventually left the gathering throughout the land. as we attended to their injured comrade. We later The Jesus Movement: found out the JDL had called Sept. 2012 police during the disturbance messianicjudaismnetwork.com and claimed we were causing problems for the community. Also Watch: They hoped the disturbance would get us deported. BASIC House Jesus Movement The Jesus movement in Youtube Jerusalem was the beginning 4