How many Israeli Jews believe in Jesus? New book sheds light

A picture of a menorah intended to explain the object's symbolism was actually a Messianic image in which the menorah's branches were described as symbolizing the "cross" and "resurrection."
(photo credit: Screenshot from Facebook/JTA)

“Jesus-Believing Israelis: Exploring Messianic Fellowships" claims there are 280 Messianic fellowships in the Jewish state.

There are nearly 300 Messianic fellowships in Israel, according to a book published this month by the Caspari Center of Jerusalem.

The book, “Jesus-Believing Israelis: Exploring Messianic Fellowships,” was written by David Serner and Alexander Goldberg and is being sold via the Caspari website. Serner is Caspari’s director of international relations and Goldberg is the organization’s Israel director. 

The Caspari website describes the book as a "comprehensive study of Jesus-believing Israelis, more commonly known as Messianic Jews. The book covers numerous issues ranging from demographics, theological and identity issues involving complex questions about what it means to be Jewish, to be Israeli and to be followers of Yeshua (Jesus)."

The  book took three years to produce, from 2018 to 2021, according to an interview the authors conducted last week with the website Israel Today. The book updates a previous survey, “Facts and Myths About the Messianic Congregations in Israel,” which was published in 1999. 

Israel Today defines itself as a "Jerusalem-based Zionist news agency founded in 1978 to bring a biblical dimension to journalism on Israel."

The authors said that they defined Messianic as Jews who "accept the traditional historic Christology. We asked if Jesus is viewed as both fully divine and fully human.” About 5% of the congregations that they contacted refused to be included in the study and others provided only partial information. 

To gather the data, the authors conducted two surveys: One was done with “fellowship” leaders and the other online in Hebrew, Russian, Amharic and English. 

The survey included only one Evangelical Arab pastor. Fellowships were defined as congregations, house-groups and churches and the survey encompassed all Jewish believers in Jesus, regardless of denomination. 

Israel Today presented the high-level data that can be found in the work, including that there are 280 confirmed fellowships in the country. Of the 273 fellowship the authors managed to reach, there were 15,323 people who worshiped there, including 8,125 adults over the age of 18 who believe in Jesus. 

The minority (42%) are Hebrew speakers. The rest (58%) speak either Russian, Amharic, English, Spanish or Romanian. 

However, the majority (55%) of members in these fellowships are Jewish or at least one grandparent is Jewish grandparent, the book showed. 

Serner told Israel Today that "the picture that this book provides is relevant for the pre-COVID-19 era," since the last interview was conducred before the coronavirus crisis began.

"This book is historical in its nature, while it also deals with theological issues and provokes theological thinking," Serner said.

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