Should a Jewish convert to Christianity be trusted with matters of kashrut? The Chief Rabbinate and two local rabbinates said “no”. The secular Supreme Court of Israel – which in recent years, has been telling the Israeli Rabbinate how to keep kosher - said “yes”.

The gist of it in a pastry shell:

Penina Conforty, a Yemenite Jew, had the kashrut certificate of her bakery business (“Pnina Pie”) removed in 2006 by Ashdod’s Chief Rabbi. Rabbi Yosef Sheinen took the action upon discovering that Conforty had converted to Christianity. Conforty claims she "came to faith" while working for an evangelical Christian family in Ohio.

The Chief Rabbinate holds that an apostate cannot be considered trusted to adhere to the laws of kashrut.*

She was told that her kashrut certificate would be returned if she agreed to employ a full-time kashrut supervisor who would be present at her store at all times. The rabbinate also wanted assurances that there would not be proselytizing on the premises.

Conforty rejected those conditions and the case went to the Supreme Court ,which ruled that the Rabbinate pay Conforty NIS 200,000 in legal fees and issue her a kashrut certificate. The judges wrote in their ruling that: "The Rabbinate's conduct indicates that as far as it is concerned only Jews can receive this much coveted kashrut certificate."

*Jewish Israel would like to add that apostates (“messianic jews” included) by definition tend to scoff at rabbinic Judaism, halacha, and Orthodox rabbis – which is a darn good reason for questioning their level of kashrut .

The headlines were confusing :

Court declares Jew for Jesus 'kosher' (Jerusalem Post)
Messianic Jew's kashrut certificate revoked (Ynet)
Messianic Jews get nod for kosher bakery (Haaretz)
Bakery owned by Jew for Jesus gets kashrut back (JTA)

I guess this is as good a time as any to ask the question, Is there a difference between a Christian “jew for jesus” and a Christian “messianic jew”? In this era of “Jewish-Christian reconcilation”, we might want to get our defintions straight with regards to who’s who in “jewish believers in jesus”.

So Jewish Israel asked counter-missionary expert and radio show host extraordinaire Rabbi Tovia Singer, to offer some clarification…

Tovia explained that both groups are practicing Christians who dabble in Jewish rituals and texts with the hopes of baiting and converting Jews.

“Jews for Jesus is one of many hundreds of Christian missions to the Jews. They are a Baptist mission that began back in the early 1970’s and they have numerous offices throughout the world devoted to converting Jews to Christianity.”

“Most of the “messianic” groups are affiliated with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God . This is the fastest growing evangelical Christian denomination in the United States and they sponsor and support hundreds of groups which target Jews for conversion.”

Tovia added that jews for jesus tends to be more rigid in their Christian doctrine (Baptist or Southern Baptist affiliated) and many adherents to this Christian sect would not neccesarily be considered politically “pro-Israel” or “Christian zionist”. Many of the “messianic” groups are politically “pro-Israel” and are backed by “Christian zionist” evangelical organizations and congregations.

What would Jesus say?

According to Rabbi Riskin: Yes, there will be a Resurrection of the Dead, and Jesus may very well be among those who will be resurrected; he was basically a religious Jew. But when he wakes up, he’ll look around and ask, 'What’s this Sunday business – the Sabbath is on Saturday! And what’s this Easter stuff – it should be a regular Passover seder! And why are you eating bacon and eggs, when the Torah forbids pig meat?' …

Based on the above, even jesus would revoke an apostate’s kashrut certificate.

UPDATE: High Court: Kashrut Credibility is Not Judged by Jewish Law (November 18, 2009)

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Comment by Jewish Israel on July 2, 2009 at 8:39pm
This is our mistake. Penina you are right and so is Rabbi Singer. He did say that "messianic" is a generic term which applies to many independent congregations. But that hundreds of "messianic" groups are inspired by the charismatic and pentecostal movements. The word "affiliated" is the problem here. Thanks for your comment and for your expertise.
Comment by Penina Tal Ohr (Taylor) on July 2, 2009 at 8:27pm
Rabbi Singer may be a counter-missionary expert and radio personality, but he has never been a messianic. The majority of “messianic” congregations are independent. While the largest denomination supporting Messianic congregations may be the Assemblies of God, it is inaccurate to say that most of the congregations are affiliated with the denomination.

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