One day my husband and I found ourselves thumbing through a phone book looking under synagogues. There was one listed to our amazement, under 'Messianic". We discussed this a teeny bit and just figured that it was one of the many Jewish groups out there, like Humanistic, or Reform. He called the number listed to find where services were and we decided to go on Friday night.
Neither of us were raised Jewish, the most I ever got was a quick, this isn't kosher but we are eating it anyway, when my mom served ham for dinner, and lakkes at Chanukah time. I did have a great-aunt take me to shul a few times but I was a tiny child, and my memory is hazy about that experience. In any case our heckles weren't raised when we found ourselves at a Christian church with a little sign in front saying that such and such Messianic Congregation meets here.
We walked in and were immediately welcomed. We heard about kosher laws that first night, and when we left we vowed never to eat pork products again. The ham we had in our fridge went into the garbage the minute we got home. The very next day we went to our first Saturday service. It was like sunshine to my soul. There was dancing, and singing, and so many friendly people. We felt like we belonged.
We got involved right away. We attended orientation classes, helped with cleanup and anything else that needed attention. We started taking dance classes and found that we picked it up rather quickly. Within a month we were a part of the dance team. We both started to study scriptures and were amazed at how many old testament prophecies spoke of Yeshua. We learned about feast days and other Jewish holidays, and how Yeshua supposedly fit into them with a smooth seam between the Torah and the NT.
A couple of years in, my husband decided that he wanted to become a Messianic Rabbi. We went and talked with the leader of our congregation and he was thrilled with our decision. He gave my husband more leadership opportunities, and soon we were in charge of Saturday night services for the end of Shabbat. I was then doing children's ministry and my husband taught bar/bat mitzvah classes. We were the people that others came to when they had a question, and great things were expected of us.
Eventually my husband and I had reached the point where no one in leadership could answer our questions or teach us what we wanted to learn. We were told to go to a Chabad store and get books, but not to actually talk to anyone from Chabad.
This was an interesting statement to me. I found it very strange. We were told that we were the bridge between Christians and Jews as Messianic believers, but while we were encouraged to reach out to the churches around us, we were told to stay away from Jewish organizations, especially Jews for Judaism and other anti-missionary groups. We went against leadership when we attended a Chanukah party put on by a nearby Chabad house. We felt even more at home there and we had a blast. However the Chabad Rabbi let us know what he thought about Messianics over the phone the next day. It hurt so bad because we thought that we were in the right place. When we got off the phone with him we called our Messianic leader and spoke to him about it. We were invited up to his house where he went on and on about the dangers involved with talking to Orthodox Jews, and how we would always be greeted with animosity because we believed in Yeshua. He even went on to say that if a day came where we no longer believed we would never be accepted by the Orthodox community, because we were once Messianic. We stayed because we were too scared to leave. We believed what the Messianic leader told us. We tried to put the Chabad experience into the back of our brains and forget about it.
At this time I joined some e-groups to try to sort out my beliefs. I figured that if there was no way that Yeshua was NOT the messiah then my faith would be strengthened. I sent out the following question to the Messianic groups I was on, "How do you know for sure that Yeshua is the Messiah?" I only got one response from an ex-believer in NY. We started to type back and forth, and I found that even though he once was part of the messianic movement, even going as far as studying to become a rabbi like my husband, he was still accepted within the Jewish community.
At this point I suspected that we had been lied to, but it had been drummed into me so much that Yeshua is the Messiah that I was stuck. What to do? I prayed and prayed asking G-d to show me. The struggle was immense; after all, if I rejected Yeshua and he was the messiah then I would be roasting in hell for all of eternity.
The answer came to me in the middle of worship and it hit me like a brick. The song was praising Yeshua and the TNK says that you should only worship Hashem. The TNK also says that G-d is not a man, yet here we were singing that he came down in the form of Yeshua. I wanted to turn and run away but I couldn't.
I then decided I had to get out of the Messianic movement. I had no idea how I was going to get the nerve to do it, but it had to be done. I sent out the following question to an antimissionary e-group: "For the people who once were in MJ how did you get out? How long did it take you? "I was not sure as to what kind of response I was going to get to this question, and I was very surprised when a real rabbi answered me.
Rabbi Moshe Shulman and I started to correspond. A frenzy of e-mail went back and forth, and he gave me a lot of support during this time. Leaving this messianic group was very scary for me. I was leaving the known for the unknown, and if they were right, going from heaven to hell.
My husband was still very attached to the messianic group, and Rabbi Shulman helped me answer the points he made. He also helped to settle my own mind, and gave me the answers I needed to many questions. Four months after I made my plea to the e-group we left the messianic group. The first Rosh Hashanah after leaving, we found ourselves in LA as the guests of some friends of Rabbi Shulman. It was an excellent way to start the new year.