Eitan Shiskoff

Executive Director
Tents of Mercy Network
"That one realization changed my life and brought me back to the Jewish heritage that had been lost in my assimilated upbringing."

As a new believer, I read the New Covenant account of Yeshua's "last supper" and was stunned by what should have already been obvious. This was a Passover Seder - the ceremonial meal mandated by God in Exodus 12, to be celebrated "through your generations". That one realization changed my life and brought me back to the Jewish heritage that had been lost in my assimilated upbringing.

It was no coincidence that this discovery took place after Yeshua was revealed to me as my Savior, Messiah, and Lord. Whereas conventional Jewish wisdom says that when a Jew turns to Jesus he has turned away from his Jewishness and from his people, the exact opposite was my experience and that of multitudes of Messianic Jews. Yeshua, King of the Jews, restored me and my family to a biblical legacy that eventuated in becoming Israeli citizens in 1992.

The ways of God are fascinating, aren’t they? In spite of nearly two millennia of bitter antipathy between the Church and the Synagogue, He refuses to be shoved off His original course.

And so we ask, "Is there continued Jewish identity and 'membership' in the peoplehood of Israel for those Jews who come to faith in Jesus?'

The answer of the Catholic Church in the time of the Inquisition was 'absolutely not!' They humiliated and burned at the stake, thousands of conversos. These were the Jewish converts to Catholicism who secretly continued to practice Jewish customs. Their "Christian" status was supposed to have erased their Jewish heritage. Hitler's answer was also a diabolical "no", as Jewish Christians throughout Europe were sent to the gas chambers and killing pits along with their "non-Messianic" brothers and sisters during the Holocaust. Their fate was fixed by their Jewish status without regard to their Christian faith.

Long Centuries without Jewish Life in Yeshua

Eitan and son at Passover Seder
As a Messianic Jew born in the 1940s, I belong to the first generation of Yeshua's openly Jewish followers since approximately the end of the 2nd century. Many heroic and sacrificial pioneers preceded our time, and we stand on their courageous shoulders. Yet their efforts remained within the context of church life. It was still uncharted territory to form Messianic Jewish communities.

Thus, the celebration of Passover as an active facet of life in Messiah (and not merely as a teaching device) has largely been recovered only in the past 40 years. Hanging on the wall of my office is a photo of me with my son at one of our first family Passover Seders. An atmosphere of tenderness and completion still radiates from our faces. We were experiencing the miracle of restoration - the restoration of an ancient, God-ordained way of life. At last, we had entered unapologetic identification with Israel's divinely-mandated nationhood, history, and way of life.

Passover began as an annual commemoration of our deliverance from Egyptian Slavery. Yeshua amplified and heightened that meaning by connecting it forever with His own blood sacrifice for our deliverance from sin's slavery. As we savor the Feast of Unleavened Bread (April 14 to April 21) may we partake of God's eternal redemption - of each of us, of Israel, of all the world.

By Eitan Shishkoff
StartComment5 16:45 02Apr14 IM -
Your story is touching; it has similarities with my own. It took me a long time to realise that neither Eucharist nor the modern Seder is actually the same as the seder of Yeshua and His disciples.

17:16 02Apr14 Chris Pulsifer -
I appreciate the comments made by this Jewish man but I don't understand the need to impose the same Jewish lifestyle on gentile converts. I have a friend who is constantly reminding me that I am a Jew now because I am a Christian. This friend refutes much of Paul's writings in the New Testament because it differs from this Hebrew roots mentality. What can I say to him to help him understand that I am not Jewish just because I am a Christian. One day we will all worship together as one body but we are not there yet.

18:39 02Apr14 Wayne Talbot -
Thank you for your article as it provides comfort to Christians such as myself who are seeking to restore the "Christianity" of Yeshua into our own lives. I am not Jewish, do not see a need to convert to Judaism, but I do want to worship G-d and observe His statutes just as the Messianic Jews in Jerusalem did those two thousand years ago. It is a difficult task, differentiating the path that Gentiles must follow, but with the encouragement of people such as yourself, it is comforting to know that guidance is available.

20:06 02Apr14 JS -
I appreciate your article, and will share it with my church friends who understand Israel's important role in God's redemption for mankind. I'd like to cite your name and quote your final paragraph when we have our Messianic, commemorative "Last Seder" on Good Friday in our home.

00:51 03Apr14 Hannah -
For 45 years I have been a "messianic" believer and finally am now no longer deemed to be a "wannabe" but part of Messiah's commuity. Am looking forward to celebrating Passover as you are. Shalom and Baruch ha Shem

03:51 03Apr14 Philip Latham -
Paul's letter to the Galatians makes it absolutely clear that a Gentile who accepts Yeshua as the Messiah does NOT have to be circumcised and does NOT have to adopt the Jewish feasts. As a Pharisee of the Pharisees Paul himself kept these feasts - as did Yeshua himself. But to repeat, the Gentile Christian is no less a Christian for not doing so!

10:34 03Apr14 Joan MacDonald -
According to Zechariah 14, Christians will be celebrating at least Sukkot, or they will get no rain. The Torah will go forth from Jerusalem! It has already started and may we see the return of the Great King to teach us all his ways. Chag sameach Pesach!

11:40 03Apr14 Rosemary Onyango -
I too argued about the Gentile acquiring "Jewish traditions". However, with time and of course the work of the Holy Spirit in me, I have learnt that we need to differentiate what God is asking His people to do and that the Holy Spirit gives a depth of revelation to all who seek His truth without prejudice, that often, a person is left wondering what happened to the clever arguments they used to have. When He comes, He sweeps away all human wisdom, even arguments that are so cleverly based on His word may receive a fresh anointing. That is why it is key to take it back to the LORD and allow Him to tell you what He means when says we are to celebrate His feasts. I agree with Bro Eitan, there is a whole new sense of G-d, when we wait for Him at those special times. I look forward to the time when Africa will go to Jerusalem at the appointed times!

22:51 03Apr14 Gail Begley -
All my life since I was very young and before I even knew what it really meant, I have loved the Jewish people because of my love for Jesus. I was not "brought up" in the church by my parents. When I was three, three dear old ladies used to take me to their Nazarene Church and and Sunday school. To this day I remember two lessons clearly. The story of Jesus telling the people to let the children come to him and the other about becoming a fisher of men. I still have the picture I colored of Jesus and his men fishing with a piece of net pasted on it. When we moved, I wrangled and conned invitations to church from my neighbors. As one would get tired of taking me, I would find another. So I was I was in many different kinds of Christian churches from protestant to Catholic till I was about twelve and it got harder and harder to find someone to take me. But two things I knew and still know. I love Jesus and I love his people. Somehow, I never heard or knew that there were Christian people that didn't love His people, God's chosen people. In the 80s upon moving back to Virginia, I came across a church that celebrated and incorported Jewish holidays and feasts. I learned to love God's people even more. For a Christian to not know about our Jewish heritage after we have been grated in fills me with sadness. So much of our inheritance is lost in not knowing the traditions and observances of God's people and the meaning of them, the reasons for them, the future they show the way to. Right now, I talk care of my mom 24/7 who is bed-ridden and has Alzheimer's but I know the minute I am able to get back to be with God's people, it will be with Messianic believers. For now, I wait and pray for God's people.

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Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: A Land without a People & a People without a Land?
Daniel Juster's article in French: Une Terre Sans Peuple & Un Peuple Sans Terre?
David: Laborers for the Harvest
Leon Mazin: God's Extended Arm of Mercy
Asher Intrater & Tal Robin: Fig, Olive & Vine
Ilana: Return to Spain
Cody and Youval: Outreach to Muslims