Mike Pence Invites a Messianic Jew to Pray at His Rally

Pence and Jacobs

Mike Pence invited a Messianic Jew to pray at a recent campaign rally.  Here is Matthew Haag’s piece at The New York Times:

As he began his prayer, it became immediately clear that the rabbi, Loren Jacobs of Congregation Shema Yisrael in suburban Detroit, would not be considered a Jew by any of the four major denominations of Judaism. In his prayer, he mentioned the “saving power” of the Lord and concluded, “In the name of Jesus, amen.”

Rabbi Jacobs believes that Jesus is the Messiah, a conviction that is theologically incompatible with Judaism. Some Jews believe that the movement the rabbi represents, Messianic Judaism, is not only antithetical to Judaism but also hostile to their religion because its goal is to persuade Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah, and by doing so convert Jewish people to Christianity.

Rabbi Jacobs, a leading figure in the denomination colloquially known as Jews for Jesus, quickly came under criticism on Monday for appearing to represent Jews at the rally and for leading the only prayer by a religious figure at the event for the 11 people and six others injured in the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday.

Read the rest here.

There are two ways to interpret this:

  1. Pence really believes that Messianic Jews are real Jews and by inviting Loren Jacobs to pray he thought he was making some kind of gesture of compassion to those killed in Pittsburgh.  If this is the case, he is completely clueless.  The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on this in 1989.
  2. Pence knows that Messianic Jews are actually Christian dispensationalists and the invitation to Jacobs was an attempt to appeal to his Christian Right base.

Whatever the case, it shows that Pence is using the Pittsburgh tragedy for political purposes.

It should also be noted that Jacobs specifically prayed that members of the Republican should win in 2018.  (Although he also prayed that if they lose they would accept God’s will).

6 thoughts on “Mike Pence Invites a Messianic Jew to Pray at His Rally

  1. John,
    I don’t think it’s fair to call Mr. Jacobs a “fake” rabbi. Rabbi is historically a broad term denoting a teacher. Although I don’t have any personal experience with Mr. Jacobs, I would bet that he is quite literate, well-schooled in the Hebrew language, very familiar with Torah, midrash, Talmud, and related matters. Have you ever heard him teach?


  2. Lena Epstein’s rabbi, Mark Miller, denounced the fake “Jews for Jesus” rabbi Loren Jacobs’ appearance at her rally in a public Facebook post. He called the decision to offer Jacobs a platform “a terrible affront to every Jewish person.” Pence’s support is based on the his evangelical belief that when Jesus returns, the Jews will be converted to Christianity, or wiped out.


  3. And I must say, listening to the NYT — whose editorial board cheerleaded for Obama’s Iran capitulation; draws moral equivalencies between Hamas and the IDF; is entirely supportive of the boycott and divestment movement; allowed a convicted terrorist, Marwan Barghouti (described as a “Palestinian leader”) to pen an editorial attacking Israel; favored the Obama administration’s craven refusal to oppose a UN resolution declaring that the Jewish state has no claim to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, all of East Jerusalem — now lecture indignantly on the offense given to devout Jews by Pence, is impossible to stomach.

    Chutzpah does not begin to describe it.


  4. This is one where those of us who are Christians cannot really presume to understand how something is perceived by our Jewish neighbors. As a Christian, I would tend to see a Jewish person who accepted Jesus as Messiah as both a Christian (faith perspective) and a Jew (physical descendent-of-Jacob basis). But that is a purely Christian perspective of looking at this, defining terms as I perceive them. I couldn’t possibly presume to know how a Jewish person would look at this, much less suggest to them how they should look at this. It would seem advisable for a politician, who one would think is concerned with the optics of a situation, to get some relevant input on how this might be viewed, especially at such a highly sensitive time in the immediate wake of a tragedy.


  5. If Rabbi Jacobs is not a Jew, then neither was St. Paul although he seemed to consider himself in no small way tied to the Jewish nation. See Phil. 3:4-6. Of course, I can understand the arguments made by contemporary Jewish leaders that there are ethnic Jews such as Rabbi Jacobs who do not believe in traditional Jewish theology and as such might be alienated from the covenants. At the same time I personally know other non messianic Jews who do not subscribe to all of Torah yet are members of a congregation in good standing. Who decides?
    Interestingly, Jesus Christ probably was not seen as a bona fide Jew by certain leaders who opposed him in ancient Israel. Yet He was, in my opinion, an observant Jew.
    What constitutes a Jewish person? Is it a set of beliefs or an ethnicity going back to Abraham? Learned Jews debate these matters offering a variety of opinions.


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