“Oh, you’re a Jew who believes in Jesus? You’re a Jew for Jesus.”
People have a tendency to refer to all Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah as “Jews for Jesus.”
And we get it. Our name is simple, straightforward, and comes to mind easily. It’s like how we call all lip balm Chapstick, all bandages Band-Aids, or all sticky notes Post-its—regardless of their actual maker. We often get credited any time Judaism and Christianity are mentioned in the same sentence (for better or for worse, we might add).
After all, when Moishe Rosen named our organization in 1973, he wasn’t trying to be coy. It’s all right there in the name: you know who we are and what we believe—and you haven’t even met us yet. We’re Jews who believe in Jesus.
What hasn’t been as clear to some over the years is the fact that what he started was a religious nonprofit organization. Not a religious denomination. Jews believing in Jesus has been a thing since, well, Jesus. We’ve only been around for four decades.
Our organization is comprised predominantly of Jewish staff, along with some Gentiles with a love for the Jewish people. Regardless of each staffer’s relation to Abraham, all those involved with our ministry believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Together, our goal is to share this love and compassion with those around us. We found something that breathed new life into our beautiful heritage—why wouldn’t we share that?
Consequently, we’re not trying to “induct members”—you can’t convert to “Jews for Jesus” but you can become a Jewish believer in the Messiah, like us. In the end, our goal is simple. We want to have meaningful conversations, exchange ideas, hear new perspectives, and present a marginalized viewpoint within the Jewish community: namely that some Jews do believe Jesus is the prophesied Messiah.
So what do you call Jews who believe in Jesus?
Many refer to themselves as Messianic Jews, Jewish Christians, Hebrew Christians, or some similar variation. Some may choose to call themselves “Jews for Jesus,” and that’s fine, too. It doesn’t mean they came on staff with our nonprofit—it just means they, too, appreciate being candid about their faith.