The label “Orthodox” is foreign to Judaism and has only recently been borrowed from Christianity. Before the haskalah or Jewish enlightenment Jews did not need to be orthodox, they were simply Jewish. During the haskalah we saw for the first time in modern history Jews organizing into religious bodies opposed to the observance of the Jewish religion, the Torah. With communities dividing over the observance of halachah, many Jewish organizations felt the need to assert themselves as “orthodox”. The orthodox movement was insistent on building walls to isolate Jewish minds from unwanted and seemingly dangerous influences.
Those who make community at Tzemakh David are diverse. The people who pray here represent a spectrum of thought and expression. Jews, and non-Jews alike, have felt safe to explore spirituality and investigate Jewish thought and insight. What is unique about Tzemakh David is our desire to reach out to those found on the Jewish margins. Tzemakh David has been formed as a kiruv community and gateway to greater involvement in Jewish life, culture and mitzvot for interested Jews and Jewish Christians. We also intend to provide community for Messianics in the Puget Sound area and to stand with Christian communities as we share the message of Christ to the nations. We are a lay led community working under rabbinic guidance abroad.
But can Jews who have become Christian return to Judaism without leaving behind their messianic beliefs?
Historically rabbinic thinkers were given the space to comment on the person of Jesus, even favorably. An example of this can be seen in the work of the Rashbatz (רשב"ץ) who argued against the church during the 1400's. His argument was that Yeshua had been an observant Jew. Today this position is widely accepted among Christians. Even as late as the 1700's Rabbi Jacob Emden was free to argue that Yeshua was torah faithful. It was his understanding that Christianity was the result of a Jewish outreach program to the nations. Rabbi Emden believed that Jesus hadn't come to start a new religion but instead He came to send His students to the ends of the earth publicizing the knowledge of G-d. We don't see those kinds of conversations happening among many orthodox Jews today. They were encouraged only if Christians would disagree. Today, no Orthodox Jew is free to articulate thoughts like those of the Rashbatz or Jacob Emden. But as we have shown, this is new. This is the innovation.
Not until the 1200's did any rabbinic thinker argue that it was forbidden to follow Yeshua. Certainly the Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law, never approaches the subject. An argument is made that a Torah Jew would simply never think to follow Yeshua and so it was not needed to forbid such activity. This is absurd. Jewish law examines every detail of the human experience. From waking to sleeping, permitted activities and those which are forbidden are dissected and scrutinized. Believing that Jesus is Mashiach is not forbidden by any authoritative halachic source. Tzemakh David is a place for any Jew, even an orthodox Jew, but it was created by Jews who are simply Jewish.
Tzemakh David is an open and welcoming place for the whole family.
We regularly learn halachah and Jewish tradition in group study.
The Jewish movement for Yeshua is growing in this generation and we are here to create a safe place for Jewish expression among followers of Messiah.
At Tzemakh David all teaching and instruction is given in English while prayer services are led in Hebrew, nevertheless, members and guests are welcome to pray in any language in which they feel most comfortable. Bring your own siddur or pray with the community using Kol Eliyahu or the Sephardic Orot (which includes an English translation). As times of prayer shift throughout the year, please check any prayer times during the week or before sabbaths and holidays.
We are working to build a regular minyan; until then, our open community services will be conducted primarily during Shabbat and Yom Tov. Join us for our community midday service this Shabbat, including prayer, a word of Torah, coffee and a bite to eat. Shabbat Midday Services are from 2:00pm-4:00pm weekly.