Former President George W. Bush will give the keynote address at a fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) on November 14th. Predictably, the Jewish community are up in arms over the former president’s endorsement of the Messianic organization, particularly given that the funds raised will help support the group’s “Jewish evangelism.”
Among the many influential Jewish leaders protesting the event is Rabbi David Saperstein, a well-known Reformed rabbi involved in Christian and Jewish dialogue. Saperstein had this to say about Bush addressing the Messianic event, “It’s disappointing that he would give his stamp of approval to a group whose program is an express effort to convert Jews and not to accept the validity of the Jewish covenant.”
Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles' Sinai Temple, whom Newsweek has called the most influential rabbi in the country, tweeted, "This is infuriating. ‘Jewish Christians’ makes as much sense as ‘Christian Muslims.’ Have the courage to say who you are.”
Last year, Glenn Beck was the keynote speaker at the MJBI’s fundraiser which was held at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. Robert Morris, pastor of the Gateway Church in Dallas which Beck attends, introduced Beck as a "prophet" at the event. Morris told the crowd that his church has supported MJBI because "when we do this, the Bible tells us, it's going to change the whole world. That it's going to hasten the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's going to bring about worldwide revival."
Messianic Judaism has become somewhat of a conundrum for conservative Jewish voters. When former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum spoke at another Messianic conference, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America last year, Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was "insensitive and offensive." Commentary magazine, that stalwart Jewish American conservative voice, noted, "it must be understood that the visceral distaste that the overwhelming majority of Jews have for the Messianics is not to be taken lightly."
Tickets for the MJBI fundraiser range from $250 to $100,000. VIP attendees are invited to a private reception with former president Bush including photographs and will receive a signed copy of Bush’s memoir Decision Points.
According to their website, the vision of the MJBI is “to bring Jewish people into a personal relationship of faith with Yeshua the Messiah.” They are also helping to "educate Christians in their role to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and thus save some of them (Romans 11:11-14)." They run Bible schools in 12 different countries, as well as an online school of Messianic theology training Messianic rabbis and pastors.