NARR 175


New American Reform Responsa

110. Berit for “Messianic Jews”

QUESTION: A woman who just delivered asked for a mohel to do the berit milah. While he was talking to her she had a visitor who she introduced as her “minister”. When the mohel asked the “minister” if he was a rabbi, an evasive answer was given. The mohel wanted to know what to do as it was clear these were “Messianic Jews”. (Lewis M. Barth, Berit MilahBoard of Reform Judaism, Los Angeles CA)

ANSWER: We consider “Messianic Jews” as apostates who have adopted another religion without coercion in contrast to those who were forced to take this step in the Middle Ages. The attitudes toward these individuals who have converted to Christianity has been expressed by several responsa (W. Jacob (ed) American Reform Responsa #150; W. Jacob Contemporary American Reform Responsa#66-68).

The small group of “Messianic Jews” or “Jewish Christians” pose little danger to the Jewish community, but they do cause considerable confusion. The real threat is minimal but nevertheless they have the capacity to lead some peripheral members of the Jewish community astray and misinform the general American public about the nature of Judaism. We, therefore, have been stricter in our relationship with these groups, and its members, than with other apostates. We will continue to make every effort to create a clear line of demarcation and indicate that they are, in every way, to be considered as Christians and not Jews. The mohelshould not circumcise this child or bring him into the Covenant of Abraham as that, in fact, is not the intent of these parents.

September 1987

If needed, please consult Abbreviations used in CCAR Responsa.