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Hanna’s discomfort grew at the start of the fall semester, when another Messianic joined, bringing the membership to three Messianics and two traditional Jews, as two Jewish members had graduated the preceding spring.
Hanna went to Hunt to discuss his misgivings.
“I did understand where he was coming from,” Hunt said. “Having two-thirds Messianic Jews on the board of the Hillel is controversial.”
But Hunt insisted that with so few Jews, they should continue focusing on their shared identity.
By this point, Hanna was splitting his time between SDSU and the University of South Dakota, where he was working toward a doctorate in social psychology and behavioral neuroscience. He was also preparing to get married. These constraints, along with his dismay at the club’s new direction, moved him to leave B’rith Sholom at the beginning of this school year.
Hanna also emailed Hillel’s headquarters in Washington about the club’s status around this time, but he received no response. A Hillel representative told the Forward that the organization has no policy on Messianic Jewish participation at its branches and no statement on this issue.
But Hanna’s departure did result in one change: The remaining members amended the constitution to allow all members to serve as officers.
“This is just one step to tikkun olam, repairing the world,” Hunt said.
“Messianic Jews” are not considered part of the wider Jewish community). However, Jewish law is clear: once a Jew, always a Jew. Someone who is born Jewish but who converts to Christianity becomes an apostate (in Jewish legal terminology), but they can take steps to return to the Jewish community at a later time should they wish to do so. The Jewish community cannot turn such Jews away, although rabbis may have different requirements for their reentry depending on denominational ideology and understandings of Jewish law.In what I found to be a very equitable gesture, the article closed with the following statement:
Do you want to learn about another perspective on this question? You can read about the beliefs of a local congregation that belongs to the movement of Messianic Judaism here.The link is to an article on Ruach Israel's website entitled "What Exactly Is Messianic Judaism?"