One of the items brought to my attention by the Orthodox Jewish Rabbinic community, is how the Messianic Movement began. They are trying to convince people who watch their videos that this movement began because Christian Evangelicals had two big meetings back in the 1970s to discuss their Public Relations problem with the Jews.

They actually believe that Evangelicals started this Messianic movement in order to draw in unaware Jews to Jesus, because they believe the Jews must come to Jesus before the end will come.

What the Rabbis themselves are completely unaware of, is that the Evangelicals are still the holdouts in this movement––they want nothing to do with the Jewish Roots, Hebrew Roots or Messianic Movement––whatever it is being called in your neck of the woods.

It was actually Jews who started this movement back in 1885 by Joseph Rabinowitz, who started the First Assembly of the Israelites of the New Covenant. Some maybe even earlier. Many men and woman who were influential in the Messianic revival were Moishe Rosen, Joseph Rabinowitz, Ari and Shira (leaders of Messiah Mandate), Victor Smadja, and Dan Juster––to name a few, and all were Jews.

There is one Jewish man who stands out as the father of Modern Messianic Judaism, and he is Martin Chernoff. His father Solomon heard a Jewish believer preaching one day and secretly professed faith in Yeshua. His son Martin would make a similar decision years later, and on his deathbed, Solomon confessed his secret faith to his son. Martin and his wife Yohanna worked for many years for an organization seeking to bring Jewish people to faith in Yeshua.

In 1963, just after the assassination of President Kennedy, Martin had the second of three visions. He saw, in addition to scores of Jewish people coming to faith––groups of unkept and shabby young people dressed in rags. These young Jewish people turned out to be the hippy phenomenon.

Scores of young Jewish people came to faith in Yeshua in Cincinnati forming the nucleus of the Chernoff’s home congregation.

The small group of Jewish believers in Cincinnati soon confessed: “We are Jewish believers in Yeshua as our Messiah....We will no longer be assimilated into the Church and pretend to be non-Jews.....Gentile converts are not expected to forsake their families, culture, holidays and traditions; nor shall we do so.” No longer would they call themselves Hebrew Christians, but Messianic Jews.

Soon Martin was elected to be president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America, now renamed Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA).

Eventually the Chernoffs moved to Philadelphia to take over a group of young Jewish believers who met in the home of Joe and Debbie Finklestein. They called their new congregation Beth Yeshua.

In 1984, the Orthodox Jewish Rabbinic community declared war on Beth Yeshua. By 1985 they (the Rabbis) were calling for a nationwide protest with the goal of destroying the Messianic Jewish movement. Jews from all over were bussed in to protest and Beth Yeshua was their target. They apparently thought that if Beth Yeshua could be toppled, then maybe they could crush the whole movement.

Many Messianic congregation leaders today were discipled by Martin Chernoff. His legacy lives on in these many men and women, not to mention his own children. Today, David Chernoff leads Beth Yeshua in Philadelphia.

How the Messianic Movement Began

Updated August 11, 2019