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.
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There are two ways to interpret this:
- 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.
- 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).