International Headquarters, 241 E 51st St., New York, NY 10022
Canadian headquarters: PO Box 897, Sta. B, North York, ON M2K 2R1, Canada.
Chosen People Ministries, known until 1988 as the American Board of Ministries to the Jews, was founded in 1894 as a small Christian mission to the Jewish residents of Brooklyn, New York, under the leadership of Leopold Cohn (1862–1953), a rabbi from Hungary who had been converted to Christianity shortly after his arrival in New York in 1892. He moved briefly to Scotland to attend to his theological studies, and upon his return to New York opened the mission. He moved to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn in 1897. The mission grew as it mixed assistance for European Jews as they adjusted to U.S. life with the teachings of Christianity. After the turn of the century, related missions opened in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. In 1924 the mission adopted the name American Board of Missions to the Jews. In 1945 headquarters were moved to Manhattan. Work expanded to all the major Jewish communities in the United States and into Europe. After World War II work expanded to Palestine and continued in the new nation of Israel, and to Argentina. Cohn was succeeded by Harold Pretlove and then Daniel Fuchs.
In 1972 the American Board of Missions to the Jews moved its administrative headquarters, first to New Jersey, and then to Rockland County, New York, and then in 1988 to Charlotte, North Carolina. That same year its present name was adopted. By that time, it was responding to a new wave of Jewish evangelism pioneered first by Jews for Jesus, founded by Moishe Rosen, a former American Board missionary, and then by the Messianic movement, which sought to found Messianic synagogues that retained Jewish culture while offering a conservative evangelical Christian faith. The American Board had initially opposed the Messianic movement, having always believed that Jewish believers should be integrated into gentile congregations. But in the 1990s it began to look with more favor on the Messianic notion, and Messianic congregations affiliated primarily to Chosen People Ministries began to emerge.
Chosen People Ministries is an evangelical organization whose doctrine is in line with that of the National Association of Evangelicals, with a special ministry to people of Jewish heritage. It is a board-governed organization whose ministry is planned and implemented by missionaries and supported by an administrative staff.
In the 1990s Chosen People Ministries returned its headquarters to New York City. In 2008 its work was led by its president, Dr. Mitch Glaser.
In addition to the international headquarters and two Messianic congregations in Manhattan and Brookyn, New York, there are congregations in Chicago; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Irvine, California; and Delray Beach, Florida. There are two congregations in Canada and one each in Berlin, Germany; Israel; Ukraine; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Chosen People.
In association with Chosen People Ministries, the Charles L. Feinberg Center in New York, offers an accredited master of divinity program in Messianic Jewish Studies.
Chosen People Ministries. www.chosenpeople.com.
Cohn, Joseph Hoffman. Beginning at Jerusalem. New York: American Board of Mission to the Jews, 1948.
———. I Have Fought the Good Fight: The Story of Jewish Mission Pioneering in America. New York: American Board of Mission to the Jews,1953.
Pruter, Karl. Jewish Christians in the United States: A Bibliography. New York: Garland Publishing, 1987.
PO Box 20006, Sarasota, FL 34276-3006
One of two major groupings of Messianic Jewish congregations, the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues was founded in 1986. Through it publications and programs it promotes the welfare of Messianic ministries and provides for the ordination of clergy. Member congregations follow the practices and traditions of Judaism, but believe that Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah.
The alliance encourages Messianic pastors and rabbis through leadership conferences and training seminars. It establishes prayer fellowship among members, and promotes unity among Messianic congregations and pastors. Undergraduate-level classes are offered at national and regional conferences. Distance-learning courses are available on the alliance’s web site. A certificate degree in Messianic Jewish Studies is offered.
The alliance is administered by a steering committee. In 2008 the chairman was Rabbi Robert Solomon, of Roswell, Georgia, and the committee members were Rabbis David Chernoff, Joe Finkelstein, Judah Hungerman, Charles Liberman, David Schneier, Steve Weiler, and Michael Wolf.
In 2008 there were 120 affiliated congregations in the United States, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, El Salvador, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Russia, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Zambia.
International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues. iamcs.org/.
Goble, Philip E. Everything You Need to Grow a Messianic Synagogue. South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974.
Rausch, David A. Messianic Judaism. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1982.
PO Box 271708, Tampa, FL 33688
The International Federation of Messianic Jews (IFMJ) dates to 1978 and the founding of Beth Israel, a Messianic Jewish congregation in Tampa Bay, Florida, and the associated Etz Chayim Messianic Jewish Institute, a school for the training of Messianic rabbis. These were among the first Messianic congregations and schools to emerge amid the new wave of interest in Messianic Judaism that swept through the many Jewish missionary organizations in the 1970s. Both of the Tampa organizations were formed by Rabbi Haim Levi, a former president of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and a member of the executive committee of the International Messianic Jewish (Hebrew Christian) Alliance of Great Britain.
Rabbi Levi, born of Sephardic Jewish parents in Colombia, holds a masters degree in biblical studies and a doctorate degree in Hebrew and biblical studies from Eitz Chayim Yeshiva.
Within a few years of the founding of the Tampa congregation, Levi had inspired the formation of three additional congregations, Beth Israel of Orlando, Beth Jacob of Jacksonville, Florida, and Beth Israel of São Paolo, Brazil. These became the core congregation of the federation. Amid growing interest in Messianic Judaism in the 1980s, Levi responded to calls for assistance from congregations across Florida and Latin America and even France. In September 1994 the Mishkan Messianic Jewish Congregation was dedicated in Nice, France.
In 1984 regional conferences began to be held, and the one in the Orlando in 1990 became an international conference, with delegates from Barbados, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico. In 1994 the conference hosted the first delegates from Israel. During this time, Levi continued to work with the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, and helped in its formation in 1986 of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues, an international synagogal association. However, at the same time, the federation was developing its own distinctive role within the Messianic Jewish world.
The federation came to feel that it was very important to reach out to the Marranos, the “hidden” descendants of the Sephardic Jews who were expelled from Spain to Portugal in 1492 and were victimized by the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. Marrano descendants can be found today in Spain and Portugal, in their former colonies, and elsewhere. The largest number of surviving Sephardic Jews are in the old Spanish and Portuguese areas of the New World, and the federation has developed a Spanish-speaking ministry that dominates its organization.
While moving to assist the Marranos, the federation also opens its doors to gentiles who want to identify with the Messianic Jewish community. Through the actions of the Messiah (Yahshua/Jesus), God has provided a means for all people, of different ancestries, to be joined to his Chosen People. The federation created a process through Messianic Jewish legal processes, Halakhah, to receive gentile believers who want to become Jewish. This process includes a period of indoctrination into the Jewish way of life, and culminates in the granting of a certificate signed by the appropriate rabbinical authority.
The federation is also a “Torah Faithful” organization in that it believes that Yeshua (Jesus) did not abolish the law. The Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible, is God’s instructions to his people. Gentiles have been mistaken that these instructions no longer apply. The IFMJ encourages believers to return to God’s Holy Writings, and acknowledges that through the Torah one finds growth in the knowledge of Yeshua and a clearer understanding of his nature, and is able to offer a better witness to the world.
Jacob’s Tent Ministry was designed by the federation as a summer camp for children aged 10 to 14 years old. Young International Federation of Messianic Jews is a ministry for members aged 18 to 30 years old.
In 2008 Rabbi Levi was chairman of the board for the International Federation of Messianic Jews. Rabbi George Quinn was the president and also served as rabbi of Beth Israel Messianic Center in El Paso, Texas. Rachel Levi was vice president. The Northeast U.S.regional director was Rabbi Mark Hernandez, and the Mid-Southwest U.S. regional director was Rabbi George Quinn. The Southeast U.S. and Caribbean regional director was Rabbi Roberto Cardona.
2008 figures are not reported. Countries with synagogue affiliation or in development with the International Federation of Messianic Jews include: the United States, Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
Kol Shofar/The Voice of the Shofar.
International Federation of Messianic Jews. www.ifmj.org.
PO Box 3263, Lebanon, TN 37088
The Messianic Israel Alliance, and the related House of David and Messianic Jewish Ministries, are a complex of structures founded by Angus Wootten and his wife Batya Wootten, who served as their executive directors in 2008. The Woottens became Christians in the formative days of the contemporary Messianic Jewish movement in the early 1970s. Angus put up money to start the first Messianic radio broadcast ministry. They also created a catalogue of Messianic resources, Messianic Manna, and, though themselves are not Jewish, became active in the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.
During the 1970s the Woottens became engaged in the question of the role of gentiles in the Messianic movement and in the larger theological questions of the relationship of the Jewish and gentiles community in salvation history. Traditionally this latter problem had been solved in one of three ways: by the belief that the church had replaced Israel; by designating the church as “spiritual Israel” and the Jews as “physical Israel;” or by considering the church and Israel as two separate entities that would only converge in the heavenly kingdom. Within the early Messianic movement, membership was based on one’s having Jewish parents or being married to a Jew. By accepting Christ, these “physical Jews” were designated “spiritual Jews.” Gentiles who affiliated with the movement (at times, making up the majority) were thought of as merely “spiritual heirs,” and many felt like second-class citizens in the Messianic kingdom.
To deal with this situation, Angus Wootten proposed a conversion process for non-Jews that would lead to all being considered equal, both “physically” and “spiritually.” Further reflection led to a reconsideration of the basic question, “Who is Israel?” The Woottens found an initial answer in biblical references to the two Houses of Israel—the “stick of Judah and the sons of Israel his companions,” which refers to the Jewish people, and “Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions,” which refers to non-Jewish believers (Gen. 48:19; Isa. 8:14; Ezek. 37:15–28). Wootten’s study led to the publication of a newsletter, Is the Church Ephraim?, in 1983 and a book in 1988.
In the end, the Woottens concluded that contemporary Israel consists of the two branches of believers, and that Messianic Israel’s task was to reunite the olive tree of Israel—both branches, Ephraim and Judah, into one redeemed nation of Israel—through Messiah Yeshua. MIA thus proposes that non-Jewish followers of Yeshua are returning Ephraim who have been restored to the commonwealth of Israel through their covenant with Israel’s Messiah. They are not to be considered gentiles henceforth. This position has set them at odds with the larger segment of the Messianic movement.
In the 1990s the Woottens moved first to Virginia and then to Orlando, Florida, and developed a small ministry to restore the two house of Israel based on the publication of a periodical, Messianic Home Magazine. Crucial to the development of the work was their 1998 meeting with Moshe Koniuchowsky, who authored a defense of the Woottens’ position, “The Truth about All Israel,” and brought to the movement Jewish leadership to complement their own. He also helped expand the Woottens’ network. Within a short time, they found compatriots across the United States and in Israel, and the Messianic Israel Alliance was founded in 1999. The alliance believes that “Yeshua Ha’Natsree (Jesus of Nazareth) was and is the true Messiah, the Lion of Judah, the Branch Who will fully reunite all Israel; that he died and rose from the dead and lives at the right hand of the Almighty; and according to the ancient Holy Scriptures, Genesis to Revelation, Yeshua is YHVH Elohim appearing in the flesh, as Yeshua demonstrated in Himself.” The alliance describes itself as a “gathering place for believers in Messiah who were awakening to their lost heritage as Israel. By connecting these believers, the MIA was able to birth relationships throughout the world. Those who once had lost their heritage now had a place they could call home; a place where both Jew and non-Jew could worship the God of Israel as equal brothers in Messiah.”
Today the Messianic Israel Alliance exists to link Messsianic congregations. It posts an Internet directory of such congregations, some of which are formally affiliated with the alliance and others that share a basic agreement with it. These congregations are conservative evangelical Christians who look for a union of Jewish and non-Jewish believers in the Messiah.
The alliance is administered by the shepherd’s council, which in 2008 was composed of John Conrad, Scott Diffenderfer, and Hale Harris. The general secretary was Hale Harris. There is also an advisory board.
In 2008 more than 130 member organizations in North America, and more than 30 others worldwide, were reported. There are congregations in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Argentina, the Bahamas, United Kingdom, Micronesia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden. Congregations are also located in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.
The Herald (bi-monthly).
Messianic Israel Alliance. www.messianicisrael.com.
Koniuchowsky, Marshall Moshe. “The Truth about All Israel.” Miami Beach, FL: Your Arms to Israel, 2000. Available from www.yourarmstoisrael.org/.
3433 Southwest Trafficway, 2nd Fl., Kansas City, MO 64111
The Nasorean Orthodox Qahal is a Jewish sect formed in the mid-1980s from the larger Jewish Messianic movement that affirms that Yeshua ha Meshiach (Jesus of Nazareth) was the Melchizedek High Priest of the Deity, and that he acted as the Meshiach of Melchizedek and is the Priest-King of Israel. The revived Nasorean movement was founded and is led by Baruch ha Tzaddik (Barry Gale Albin, b. 1948).
The Nasorean Orthodox Qahal sees itself as a revival of a movement traced to the first century b.c.e. and to an unnamed leader mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the “Teacher of Righteousness.” This person led a movement that opposed the main Jewish leadership of the era, and ultimately produced several subgroups including the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots. A fourth subgroup was the Nasoreans. Like the Sadducees, they believed that the Holy Spirit would guide them in their reading of the Torah. Like the Essenes, they believed that they should separate themselves from the unbelievers, but they also believed that they needed to remain of the world, hough not a part of it.
As the Nasorean Orthodox Qahal understand the history, all four opposition movements were unified from 25 to 30 c.e. under the leadership of three men: Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua), the great grandson of the Teacher of Righteousness; his physical brother James the Just (Ya’akov); and their cousin John the Baptist (Yochanan). Yochanan was a Jewish priest and Yeshua and Ya’akov believed that Yochanan would become the new high priest when the kingdom of Israel was reestablished. The movement as a whole believed that Ya’akov would be the prophet who announced the true teachings, and that Yeshua was the heir to David’s throne—that is, the temporal messiah.
A crisis ensued when Yochanan was killed. Yeshua then offered a new direction. He announced that he was the messiah, a position uniting prophet, priest, and king in his person. He saw himself as the high priest according to not the Order of Aaron, but the Order of Melchizedek. After Yeshua’s death, he appeared to various members of the movement that had grown up around him. Of these, his appearance to Ya’akov was the most important (1 Cor. 15:7) because it gave Ya’akov the authority to assume leadership of the movement in Jerusalem. He became the mebakker (overseer or bishop) of the communities following a pattern that came from the Rule of the Community discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ja’akov became the overseer, John the prophet, and Cephas (Peter) the chief rabbi or spiritual teacher.
Ya’akov led the Church from 33 c.e. until his death in 62 c.e. He was succeeded by his brother Shimon (also a physical brother of Jesus/Yeshua), who led the church until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. The church in Jerusalem left behind their constituting document, which survived in Greek as the Didache (Teachings of the Twelve). It was an important church document in the second and third centuries, but it was not included in the biblical canon and therefore was largely forgotten except by church scholars.
After Jerusalem was destroyed, the church led by Shimon relocated to the village of Pella on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. Over the next two generations it grew, but had its next crisis in 132–35 CE when the Jewish revolutionary Bar Kochba arose, established a state independent of Rome, and declared himself the new meshiach. The Nasoreans could not accept his messianic claims and suffered greatly when Rome reconquered the land—the great majority of their followers were killed. The surviving remnant relocated Beroea in Coele Syria, near modern-day Aleppo. At this point, this movement is lost to history, though its ideas resurfaced in fifteenth-century Spain in the among those known as the Marranos, many of whom were killed by the Spanish Inquisition.
The story of the Nasoreans began anew with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the middle of the twentieth century and the gradual reconstruction of the history of the Holy Land in the first century b.c.e. The scholarly assessment intruded into the revival of Jewish Christianity of the 1970s and 1980s. By the early 1980s, some were ruminating on the issue that Yeshua had never specifically stated that the Jewish law was abolished. That idea gave birth in 1983 to the Messianic Jewish movement. Rev. J. David Davis separated from the Jewish Christians and became the first leader of a new group attached to Judaism. From this beginning, there soon arose a second group that reaffirmed their belief that Yeshua was in fact the meshiach, but denied that he was G-d, nor was the Holy Spirit G-d. This new group then split into two groups. One branch centered in Ra’ana, Israel, accepts as much of the Talmud as it can within the framework of the Gospel of Matthew. The other is the Nasorean Orthodox Qabal.
The revived Nasorean Orthodox Qahal was founded by Baruch ha Tzaddik, the son of nonpracticing Jewish parents. He became a lawyer, and as an adult converted to Roman Catholicism and became involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In 1975 he met Fr. William J. Axe, who advised him to return to his Jewish roots. He subsequently affiliated with a messianic synagogue, but had come to doubt the idea of the deity of Yeshua. In 1981 he began an independent charismatic bible study group that evolved into the Servants of G-d Evangelical Mission, which became familiarized with Jewish religious ways. In 1985 Baruch was ordained rabbi and mebakker (bishop) of the organization, which under his guidance rejected the divinity of Yeshua while affirming his messiahship. It also adopted the Didache as its constitution. Baruch authored several books that are available through the community, including Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: A Lay Guide to Holiness and The Manual of the Nasorean Church.
The Nasoreans affirm that Yeshua ben Yotzef (Jesus the son of Joseph) is the messiah promised in the Messianic Apocryphon, a book found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and ascribed to the Teacher of Righteousness. They also believe that the Archangel of the Presence on the Mountain gave the Torah to Moses. They accept all of the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible), including the extra books found in the Septuagint, plus various intertestamental books including the books of Enoch and Jubilees. Further, they accept the Gospel of Matthew in its Hebrew form, and the books of the Christian Bible known as Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. In addition, they accept the Didache and the Gospel of Thomas.
In outlining the canon they use, the Nasoreans reject the concept of the inerrancy of any scriptures for any purpose other than reproof, correction, and training in holiness. They also reject the idea that scripture is closed. At the same time, the Nasoreans reject the authority of the Oral Law. and believe that the subsequent rulings of the rabbinical Jews are mere opinions. They practice circumcision, Shabbat, Sabbath rest, and the feasts of the Scripture.
The Nasoreans practice what Christian know as the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper. They affirm that the Melchizedekian sacrifice of bread and wine is sufficient for the forgiveness of sin. When sacrificed with the proper faith, this bread and wine becomes the Lamb of G-d that takes away the sins of the world.
As reconstituted, the Nasoreans have a number of differences with the larger Christian community. Notably, they see the Apostle Paul as a traitor who tried to destroy the work of Yeshua. At the same time, they believe that physical descendents of Yeshua are alive and can be identified, and that they should be given preference in positions of authority within the church. The Didache supplies an organizational pattern.
They affirm that Yeshua is the Son of G-d, created by Ain Sof (G-d) in the beginning and begotten by the Archangel in time. He is joined by the Holy Spirit, the descending Light. Neither he nor the Spirit are themselves the very G-d, but they are our G-ds and rule over the other archangels in the Assembly of G-ds. Yeshua mediates sin for his people and offers the Voice to guide them on the Way (Ex. 23:20, John 10:3–5). Following Yeshua today requires keeping the Torah and all the feasts as he commanded.
Nasorean Orthodox Qahal. www.nasori.org/.
529 Jefferson St. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108
Messianic Judaism is a movement that began among American Jewish converts to Christianity in the 1960s, though as a perspective it has found expression within the larger context of Hebrew Christianity periodically throughout the twentieth century. It has been the dominant position among Jews who become Christians that they lose their Jewish religious (if not ethnic) identity and become members of congregations of various Christian denominations. Overwhelmingly, Jewish Christians have blended into mainline Christian churches and are visible primarily through the numerous independent evangelical Jewish missionary ministries they support. Among the best known of the Hebrew Christian organizations that carry out missionary programs to Jews but do not establish separate Jewish congregations is Hineni Ministries, better known as Jews for Jesus. It was founded in 1973 by Moishe Rosen, formerly with the American Board of Missions to the Jews, the largest of the Jewish missionary organizations.
Messianic Judaism, in contrast to the more popular Jewish missionary perspective, believes that Jews can be Christians and still identify with Jewish culture and religious forms. They see Christianity as completing Judaism, not standing in stark contrast to it. Although it rarely assumed any organized form, Messianic Jewish thinking was always present among people associated with Jewish missions. In the 1960s at least one Messianic synagogue was formed, the Congregation of the Messiah in Philadelphia. In 1970 Martin Chernoff founded Beth Messiah in Cincinnati. Bu the movement found its first major organizational support in Chicago.
Within the Chicago-based Hebrew Christian Alliance, one of the oldest Hebrew Christian organizations in the United States, Messianic sentiments began to grow among the leaders of the Young Hebrew Christian Alliance in the early 1970s, partially as a fallout from the Jesus People revival. By 1975 the Messianists became the majority of the Young Hebrew Christian Alliance’s membership, voted in a name change, and reoriented the organization’s direction as the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. Since then, the alliance has sponsored an annual gathering that has served as the major meeting ground for fellowship for Messianic Jews, both those within Messianic synagogues and those in more traditional gentile congregations.
In summer 1979, as the number of Messianic congregations increased, leaders from 33 such congregations met to form an umbrella congregational organization, the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. The charter meeting was held at the 1979 annual gathering of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, Messiah ‘79. Daniel C. Juster and John Fischer were the first president and vice president, respectively. Nineteen congregations joined the first year, and by 1982 there were 25.
The union set as its goals the advocacy of Messianic Judaism, the development of Messianic synagogues, and the training of Messianic leaders. In 1981 the union adopted the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals, with appropriate changes in terminology for Jewish Christians. That statement is in line with earlier guidelines that affirmed the Bible as the absolute authority in matter of belief; the divinity of Jesus, normally called by his Hebrew name, Yeshua; and salvation by grace through faith in Yeshua’s atonement. Congregations generally have services on either Friday evenings or Saturday mornings in addition to Sunday worship. Worship varies considerably, but each congregation’s worship bears a distinctly Jewish flavor.
The union is very loosely organized, with a congregational polity. To join, a congregation must have been in existence for one year and have at least 10 Messianic Jews among its members. Typically, congregations have a large number of non-Jews who are also members.
In 2008 Rabbi Russ Resnik served as executive director, Jamie Cowen as president, and Dr. John Fischer as vice president.
In 2008 there were four affiliated international congregations, two in Canada, and 73 in the United States. California and New York have the largest representation.
UMJC Yeshiva, Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Messianic Judaism Today • Unofficial: Shofar Shalom • The American Messianic Jew • The Messianic Outreach
The Messianic movement has emerged as part of a period of aggressive Jewish evangelism and has had to face the growing activism of the Jewish religious community, which opposes any attempts by evangelical Christians to evangelize within the Jewish community. The existence of Messianic synagogues has been a particular affront to many Jewish leaders who have seen them as further attempts to destroy Judaism, deceptive in their appearance.
Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. www.umjc.net.
Fischer, John. The Olive Tree Connection. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1983.
Goble, Phillip E. Everything You Need to Grow a Messianic Synagogue. South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974.
Rausch, David. A. Messianic Judaism. New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1982.
Yellow Pages. Rockville, MD: Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, 1982.
PO Box 556, Ottumwa, IA 52501
The Union of Nazarene Yisraelite Congregations, formerly the Union of Two House Messianic Congregations, was formed at the beginning of the twenty-first century as Rabbi Marshall Moshe Koniuchowsky, one of cofounders of the Messianic Israel Alliance (MIA), developed disagreements with the other alliance leaders, Angus Wootten and Batya Wootten. Koniuchowsky had authored a defense of the Woottens’ position, “The Truth about All Israel” (2000), and had brought Jewish leadership to their movement. Shortly after their association, differences arose that are now manifest in the union’s statement of faith, which includes a number of beliefs not mentioned in the Hope of Messianic Israelof the by MIA. All union members must agree completely and in writing to the union’s doctrinal statement.
The union continues its basic agreement with MIA that the Messianic Jewish movement should drop its distinctions between believers who are ethnically Jews and those who are gentiles. It agrees that non-Jewish followers of Yeshua are returning Ephraim who have been restored to the commonwealth of Israel through their covenant with Israel’s Messiah. Henceforth, they should not be thought of as gentiles. This position disagrees with the two theologies that dominate the Messianic movement—“replacement theology” that designates the “church” as the replacement of Israel in God’s eyes, and the “separate entity theology” that sees the “church” as coexisting as a separate “spiritual Israel” beside physical Jewish-Israel.
While not identifying with the Sacred Name community, the union insists that affiliated groups use the sacred names Yahweh and Yahshua (with variant spellings acceptable) in its gatherings at both the local and national levels. Congregations that refuse to use the true names are asked to leave the union. Leadership of the union is vested in a board of rabbis. This board is seen as an apostolic board that offers oversight when requested by member congregations and affiliates. All union member congregations are required to send at least two representatives to the annual union conference.
The union has adopted a course of study for prospective rabbis. Women are welcomed to rabbinate. Women are not known as roeh (pastor), but as rebbetzin (female teacher).
The union is in fellowship with a group of 60 congregations in Zimbabwe, under the leadership of Sholiach/Rabbi Charles Richard Zechman, a rabbi ordained by the union through whom union outreach in that country was opened.
In 2008 board members included Rabbi Edward Levi Mydle and Rabbi Tom Mitchell. Rabbi Bob Miller of Agudat Bris, Temple, Texas, was assigned the role of traveling shepherd.
2008 membership figures not reported. The directory of Messianic congregations, published by the union, includes 94 U.S. and 6 Canadian congregations and ministry centers. In addition, there are congregations and ministries listed from Australia, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Honduras, Kenya, Paraguay, Colombia, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, Trinidad, Virgin Islands, and Zimbabwe.
Union of Nazarene Yisraelite Congregations. www.2house.org.
Koniuchowsky, Marshall Moshe. “The Truth About All Israel.” Miami Beach, FL: Your Arms to Israel, 2000. Available from www.yourarmstoisrael.org/.