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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Beit Messiah is not Church!

Why is Beit Messiah not a Church?  The simple answer is "because we are a Synagogue!"  It is not just semantics.  We are a Synagogue that is made up of both Jews and Gentiles who worship the God of Israel.  The words "Synagogue" and "Church" both have the same meaning from the original languages.  They both mean "Assembly." We assemble on Shabbat (Saturday) and worship the God of Israel with Hebrew liturgy, Messianic music and dance.  We are a Synagogue!

In the Torah (Parsha Miketz) we read the story of Joseph.  In Genesis (bereshit) 42:8 there is a simple statement regarding the first time that Joseph sees his brother after many years.  It reads, "So Yosef recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. "  Why did the ten brothers not recognize Joseph?  Really, the answer is simple.  Joseph was an Egyptian.  At least he looked like one and spoke like one! Scripture tells us that Joseph spoke through an interpreter.  He wore the clothes, he had the makeup.  As far as the ten brothers were concerned the man they were speaking with was a Egyptian not a Hebrew and especially not one of them!

This is very similar to the way Yeshua (Jesus) is perceived by the majority of my Jewish people.  Everyone knows that "Jesus was a Jew."  but look at him.  at least the pictures that have been painted over the years.  Whatever he resembles he certainly does not resemble a Jew.  This is a sad reality since, like Joseph, Yeshua recognizes his brothers, but his brothers don't recognize him.  This is problematic since he actually is one of us!  If the resurrection of Yeshua was a bodily resurrection (as we believe it was) then his circumcision resurrected with him.  If He sits at the right hand of the father as scripture says He does then He sits there as a resurrected Jew.  But the majority of the Jewish world does not recognize Him as their brother because He has been presented as anything but Jewish.  

It is important to consider that Judaism and Christianity were not meant to be two separate world religions.  They are counter parts.  Christianity is the Gentile form of Judaism.  and "Gentile" is not a curse word (as many Jewish people use it today).  While we count ourselves as apart of Israel (both nationally and spiritually) we also count ourselves as part of the body of Messiah (those who worship Yeshua as both Messiah and Lord).  It is important to point out that "Messianic" means "follower of Messiah" from Hebrew just as "Christian" means "follower of Christ" from Greek.  With this in mind you will find that people in our Synagogue will refer to themselves as a "Messianic Jew" or a "Messianic Gentile" meaning that we are Jews and Gentiles that are seeking to follow our Messiah in the way that He lived.  

Many of our Christian friends misunderstand the importance of the Jewishness of the message of Yeshua and the Jewishness of Yeshua himself.  To take Him outside of the context of His people and the Torah that He followed is to miss key ingredients in understanding His message for the world.  (If you would like more on this issue see "Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel" by David Stern).  And so, Yeshua is presented as someone who is not a Jew making it quite difficult for Yeshua's brothers (the Jewish people) to recognize Him for who He really is: the Jewish Messiah.  If He is not Messiah for the Jewish people then He is Messiah for no one.  There is only one.  He came first for the children of Israel and then instructed us to share His message with the world.

Due, in part, to this misunderstanding many Messianic's condemn "the Church" for all kinds of things and tell Christians that they must observe Shabbat, keep kosher, circumcise their sons, and keep all of the Biblical feasts.  Christians are condemned for celebrating Christmas and Easter because of pagan influence in the celebration of these days.  As for our synagogue, we do our best not to condemn.  If a Christian celebrates Christmas as the birth of our Messiah and celebrates Easter as the day that our Messiah rose from the dead I am quite certain that God is cool with it.  We do not celebrate Shabbat or the feasts because "we are doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong."  We celebrate these days and many Jewish life cycle events because we are a synagogue.  I encourage those within our Messianic movement to not condemn but do what you think is right.  It may be right for you but not right for your neighbor.  The Jerusalem council in Acts 15 as well as Paul (1 Corinthians 7) speak to these issues and give the very same encouragement (as I read them, of course :).  

So, why is Beit Messiah not a Church?  Short answer: because we are synagogue.  A synagogue that is home to many mixed marriages (between Jews and Gentiles).  A synagogue that is home to Messianic Jews.  A synagogue that is home to Messianic Gentiles.  A synagogue that is Messianic and seeks to follow the Judaism of our Messiah Yeshua.  A synagogue that understands the body of Messiah is filled with all kinds of people who all play an important role in the calling both Jewish people and the nations to RETURN (see our "model of return") to our creator who is the God of Israel!  A synagogue with the goal and purpose to make Yeshua recognizable to His (and my) brothers.  For when our Jewish people are able to recognize our brother Yeshua how much more will God pour out His blessings on the whole world (Romans 11:11).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rabbi's Conference

yes! Rabbi's have a conference!  I am getting ready to go down to Orlando for the IAMCS (International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues) on January 1st.  We meet for three days and have sessions on leadership, preaching, teaching, and congregational finances.  We also take a lot of time for prayer (which is a good idea when a bunch of Rabbi's get together :).

It really is a great few days and is always a refreshing time for me both personally and professionally.  My parents both attend as do many friends that are also in Messianic leadership.  If you think of it, pray for this conference.  As we approach 2011 there will be many new things happening at Beit Messiah ( and I am hopeful that this conference will be refreshing, enlightening, and encouraging.  A preparation of sorts.  getting ready and recharged for all the new things that we will do this year.  I am excited to go and also excited to get back.

I am extremely thankful for our amazing community in Seattle that is MORE than encouraging as we continue to settle in to our new city and congregation.  Laura and I are living in an extremely blessed time of our lives!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Why do I need a blog?  why jump in the game now?  These are some questions that come to my mind as I begin this new endeavor of writing and keeping a blog.  First, I have always loved to write but have also feared that my writing would be subject to criticism (gulp).  Second, I am terrible with grammar and for fear of looking dumb I have kept myself from writing (and I PROMISE my grammar will never be good).  Third, are my thoughts worth it?  At 31 years old I have decided they are!

So, what is the point? Meshugas is Yiddish for "craziness; foolishness, nonsense."  It also starts with an "M" and sounds great with my name...So, take it or leave it but here we go...

I plan to use this blog as a place for me to be me.  I hope to be honest and open and give people (who are interested) a better picture of who I am.  I often get comments like, "I have never met a Rabbi like you!" or "Your a Rabbi?!"  The truth is I am a Messianic Rabbi but I don't believe that means I cannot be a human being.  I have feelings, thoughts, pains, hopes and lots of joy!  and I intend to share all of that.

Before I was a Rabbi I was a son.  I love my parents (Rabbi David and Helene Rosenberg).  They are amazing people of deep passion and faith that drives them to love God and people better.  I am thankful for everything that they have invested in me and the love they poured out on me.  When teachers said, "he can't focus" or "he is a trouble maker" my parents worked hard to make sure I understood that my energy was an awesome gift that would enable me to do awesome things.  Speaking of being a trouble teachers were right...I still am!  I like to believe that my "trouble making" will lead to good things and I know that is from my parents who are both "trouble makers" in their own right!

when I became a son I also became a little brother.  I more than look up to my brother Jake.  He is one of the most talented artists and deepest thinkers I know.  I value his opinions because I know he wants the best for me and pushes me to be better.  We have come a long way from the days when he use to pin me to the ground and hold my mouth open and try to spit in my mouth.  I am proud of my brother, his wife heather and my niece Rachel and all that they are accomplishing as a family.

a few years later I became an older brother.  Avi is awesome!  He is deep and extremely gifted in so many ways.  One word that defines my little brother (who bigger, stronger and more fit than I) is determination.  When he wants to do something it will happen.  If he dreams he strives to accomplish his dreams with tenacity.  I am proud of my little brother and know that anything he puts his hands to will turn out to be something beautiful.

One of the greatest goals of my short life was finding my wife!  Laura is so much more than the woman I imagined.  Her gifts and talents do far more than balance mine.  She is exceptionally creative, extremely hopeful and more beautiful every day that we grow older together.  She is the funniest person in the world and nobody makes me laugh and smile more than my wife.  and man is she sexy!  I mean really sexy!  The title I value most is "Laura's husband".

After I become a husband I became a father.  Emma, Siri, and Ty bring me endless joy and more laughter than I ever thought there would be.  They are each so different and it amazes me everyday that the combination of Laura and I have produced such ridiculously cute, hysterical, energy filled, awesome kids (maybe i'm not that surprised).

I was born in Ashland, Oregon.  Spent some of my childhood in Philadelphia, California, New Jersey and most of my childhood in New York.  I value my Jewish identity (and I don't care who thinks I am a Jew or not), and I value my faith in Yeshua my Messiah who is the visible image of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  I am a Messianic Rabbi of a fantastic Synagogue ( on Mercer Island and I am so happy to be enjoying the beauty of the amazing northwest and our new city, Seattle!

So, thats me (so far)!  I know there is going to be so much more and for better or worse this blog will be my "meshugas".  I hope it will be also be funny and enjoyable.  There will be theology from time to time.  and it will always have some relationship to my relationship with the One who created me.

follow, if you would like.  As I attempt to follow my Messiah Yeshua with all of my heart, soul and strength!