Israel Radio Plays Messianic Music!

It was Friday evening, and my wife came to me with an urgent message: “Listen! 88FM is playing the Messianic worship song Kadosh!” Indeed, just 30 minutes before the beginning of the Sabbath, Israeli broadcaster Yehudit Ben Yaakov was playing this Hebrew song on her weekly radio program Kan, Sham U’Be’Chol Makom (“Here, There and Everywhere”).

American Messianic Jewish worship leader Paul Wilbur belted out the words:

“Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, Ado- nai Elohim tsva’ot, asher hayah, ve’hoveh ve’yavo”—“Holy, holy, holy is the L-rd G-d of hosts, Who was and Who is and Who is to come” (Revelation 4:8). “What a holy song, and what an inspiring way to welcome the Sabbath!” declared Ben Yaakov. “What a great song by Paul Wilbur.”

She was so excited that she played the song Kadosh again, this time by a singer called Suzanne. How amazing that on a typical Sabbath eve, Messianic worship music was wafting over the airwaves of state-run Israel Radio, which owns 88FM.

The same weekend, the weekly newspaper Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) ran a full-page ad featuring the guest house at Yad HaShmona, a Messianic community near Jerusalem. Yad HaShmona was promoting its facilities for weddings and other festivities in the ideal surroundings of biblical gardens and the pastoral Judean hills.

Although this moshav (rural community) is well known throughout the Land as being run by believers in Yeshua (Jesus), it has the freedom to advertise in an Israeli newspaper.

Not only that, but in the same paper, just two pages before, there was a double-page spread from an opponent of the Messianic Jews—the ultra-Orthodox Shas party. Shas was advertising a mega-conference at the Ramat Gan soccer stadium near Tel Aviv, featuring the party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. It is a kind of Jewish “revival” similar to those in Christian circles, but with Hebrew worship songs and rabbis preaching to the crowds. Israeli media outlets, whether TV, radio or newspapers, provide an open platform for both Messianic and Orthodox Jews.

In the same vein, a close friend of mine who is a Jewish believer in Yeshua said that a while back, ultra-Orthodox Jews hung defamatory posters around his neighborhood, showing his picture and stating: “DANGER MISSIONARIES!” Yet his Orthodox rabbi was not disturbed in the least; on the contrary, he even asked him to take on a more important role in the synagogue.

“It’s amazing how these things can boomerang!” he said. “I was sure I’d be thrown out of the synagogue because of those posters.”

While Messianic Jews face an uphill climb toward acceptance in Israel, not everything is negative. It is true that Jews who believe in Yeshua, as well as Christians, are often targeted by the ultra-Orthodox anti-missionary organization Yad LeAchim, which fears that Jewish souls will be lost to Christi- anity. This is largely a response to the bloody history of Church persecution of the Jewish people over the centuries; Jews were massacred in the name of Jesus, but now they are supposed to be redeemed by the same name. This is difficult for the Jewish people to accept.

Nevertheless, Messianic Jews are making inroads in the Jewish state and enjoy more tolerance and freedom than ever before.


For you 'Trekkies' out there....

We come now to the most famous Jewish influence on Vulcan culture, the "live long and prosper" hand gesture. This "Vulcan salute, " as it has come to be called, was invented on the set by Leonard Nimoy during the filming of the second-season opener, "Amok Time."

Nimoy felt that there should be some kind of distinctive greeting among Vulcans, analogous to a handshake or a bow. Alan Dean Foster's novelization, based on an early script, has Spock kneeling before the Vulcan matriarch, T'Pau, who places her hands on his shoulders, like royalty dubbing a knight. But Nimoy didn't care for this. Previous episodes had already established that Vulcans are touch telepaths. Therefore, a touch on the shoulders would be an invasion of privacy. Instead, Nimoy drew upon his own Jewish background to suggest the now-familiar salute. Back in the 1960s, hippies who watched "Amok Time" thought the salute was a variation of the two-fingered peace sign. But Jews knew better. The Vulcan salute came not from protest marches, but from the pulpit of Nimoy's childhood synagogue.

The Vulcan greeting is based upon a blessing gesture used by the kohanim (koe-hah-NEEM) during the worship service. The kohanim are the genealogical descendants of the Jewish priests who served in the Jerusalem Temple. Modern Jews no longer have priests leading services as in ancient times, nor do we have animal sacrifices anymore. (Yes, people really do ask about that!) The sacrificial system ended with the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the year 70. C.E. However, a remnant of the Temple service lives on in the "kohane blessing" ritual (duchenen in Yiddish) that is performed on certain holy days.

The actual blessing is done with both arms held horizontally in front, at shoulder level, with hands touching, to form the Hebrew letter "shin." This stands for the Hebrew word for "Shaddai", meaning "Almighty [God]." Nimoy modified this gesture into one hand held upright, making it more like a salute. So, technically, the Vulcan greeting is not the same thing as the ceremonial Jewish blessing. Still, the resemblance is close enough to evoke instant recognition among knowledgeable Jews.

(extracted from Jewish Themes in Star Trek by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom. (c) Copyright 2004, 2009 by Yonassan Gershom. All rights reserved.)