Perishing through Ignorance

For many Jews, it is difficult to imagine anyone becoming a Hebrew-Christian. What kind of people are most vulnerable to the missionary appeal?
There are actually many factors that can account for someone’s being “at risk”. Here I’ll focus on just one of them.

The problem today remains unchanged from the time the prophet Hosea expressed it 2,500 years ago: “My people are perishing through ignorance.” I’m reminded of the young Jewish woman who, when asked why she embraced Christianity, claimed that she was inspired by a verse she had read in the “New Testament”: “And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” She was simply unaware that this is the second line of the “Shema” from our Torah!

Over the past 15 years, we have often asked young Jews to formulate a concise definition of a Jew. One of the most common answers that we receive is that a Jew is someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. How tragic it is that so many define themselves by what they don’t believe in! It is unfortunate, but true, that many Jewish people grow up with almost no strongly held religious beliefs. We’ve also asked these groups that if non-belief in Jesus is so central to being Jewish, why is it that Jews don’t believe in him? Aside from the knee-jerk response, “Well, we just don’t”, we have yet to hear a well-articulated case for the Jewish rejection of the Christian faith.

Most revealing are the scores of Jewish students on the Jewish I.Q. test that we have distributed on college campuses. What follows are some of the typical questions from the admittedly tongue-in-cheek exam. I encourage you to give it a try, too!

1A. Who was the mother of Jesus?
1B. Who was the mother of Moses?
2A. Name two of the four Gospels in the “New Testament”.
2B. Name two of the 63 tractates in the Talmud?
3A. According to Christian translations, where was Jesus born?
3B. According to the Bible, where was Abraham born?
4A. What does the word “Trinity” mean?
4B. What does the word “Taryag” mean?
5A. What is “Lent”?
5B. What is “Sefirah”?
6A. Which individual began the Protestant Reformation?
6B. Which individual began the Chasidic movement?
7A. What is a “kafiyah”?
7B. What is a “gartel”?
8A. Who wrote most of the songs of the Beatles?
8B. Who wrote most of the Book of Psalms?
9A. Who is the author of “Das Kapital”?
9B. Who is the author of “The Guide for the Perplexed”?

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