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Jesus Is More All Right with Jews

Whether more Jews are accepting Jesus remains a matter of debate. But more American Jews seem to be increasingly accepting of other Jews who accept Jesus.

A Pew Research Center study released in October reported that 34 percent of American Jews think believing Jesus is the Messiah is compatible with being Jewish. Thirty-five percent of ultra-Orthodox Jews agreed. By comparison, 94 percent of all U.S. Jews said a person can be Jewish and work on the Sabbath, and 68 percent said a person can be Jewish and not believe in God.

"This does not mean that most Jews think those things are good," said Alan Cooperman, deputy director of Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project. "They are saying that those things do not disqualify a person from being Jewish. [But] most Jews think that belief in Jesus is disqualifying by roughly a 2-to-1 margin."

Still, some see the survey positively. "The Pew survey highlights a quantum shift," said Richard Harvey, senior researcher for Jews for Jesus. "Jewish identity is more and more seen in cultural and ancestral ways rather than through religious expression."

Markers for Jewish identity have shifted, said Russ Resnik, executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. "The gatekeepers are still holding the line against us, but a lot of Jewish people in the larger community recognize we're here to stay, that we're part of the Jewish community, that we're concerned about Jewish causes."

According to Pew, messianic Judaism is still small: Of Americans with a Jewish background or identity who practice a religion other than Judaism, only 2 or 3 percent say they're messianic. A similar percentage ...

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January/February 2014

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