Messianic Jewish Congresswoman Catches Attention of Israeli Media

Local outlets echo Americans in skewering Anna Paulina Luna, but similarly confuse her use of the term “Messianic Jewish.”

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: MESSIANIC JEWS
Fresh Rep. Anna Paulina Luna makes waves after highlighting her Messianic Jewish faith.
Freshman Rep. Anna Paulina Luna makes waves after highlighting her Messianic Jewish faith. Photo: EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Freshman Rep. Anna Paulina Luna is in the news again, this time in Israel, where she caught the attention of local media after identifying herself as a follower of Messianic Judaism.

Left-leaning American media skewered Luna after she left out of interviews the fact that her paternal grandfather, Heinrich Mayerhofer, was a German soldier during World War II. Headlines screamed that he was a Nazi, but there is no evidence that he identified with Nazi party politics. Many German soldiers at the time didn’t. Luna retorted that her maternal great-grandfathers both served in the Allied Powers.

What bothered the likes of The Washington Post and Vanity Fair, and later similar outlets in Israel, was that at the same time she was seemingly hiding her Nazi-linked history, Luna pointed to some kind of personal Jewish heritage.

To be fair, the headlines again misrepresented exactly what the congresswoman said.

While claiming to have a “small fraction” of Ashkenazi background (an unverifiable assertion), Luna stated that she had been raised for at least part of her childhood in the Messianic Jewish faith.

Luna’s mother confirmed that Luna’s father, George Mayerhofer, had turned to the Messianic faith after beating his drug addiction, and had imparted that to his daughter.

“He eventually got clean and started attending a Messianic Jewish church in Orange County. He brought Anna to services and she buried him to Jewish customs,” Monica Luna told The Washington Post.

Many believers in Jesus, particularly in the United States, adhere to Messianic Judaism, or at least parts of it, and Messianic synagogues often have more Gentile than Jewish congregants.

Confusion often arises when a Gentile believer uses the term “Messianic Jewish” in the same way they would “Christian,” or perhaps more accurately a denominational affiliation like “Baptist” or “Methodist.” In this context, they are usually pointing to religious attachment, not ethnicity. For instance, when Luna became the first Member of Congress to openly identify herself in the Pew Research Center’s annual “Faith on the Hill” survey as “Messianic Jewish.”

The confusion is understandable. When someone who wasn’t born Jewish later identifies as a follower of mainstream Judaism, it usually means they underwent conversion, which uniquely to Judaism makes that person a member of both the faith community and the Jewish people–a “member of the Tribe,” as is often said.

Of interest was the fact that most Israeli outlets covering the story were accommodating to Messianic Judaism as a stream of Judaism. This kind of tacit recognition for Messianic Judaism was unheard of a decade ago, when nearly all Israeli news reports would refer to it as a Christian cult or a deceitful Christian missionary movement.


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One response to “Messianic Jewish Congresswoman Catches Attention of Israeli Media”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    As a messianic Gentile I can never be accepted as a member of the tribe. Messianic Gentiles are not distinguished from messianic Jews in Christian circles but perhaps they could be in Jewish circles. The first messianic Jews set out the criteria for Gentiles to join them in Acts 15. Perhaps a body needs brought into being that can be recognised by Jewish authorities as those who messianic Jews recognise as messianic Gentiles. These would be born-again souls who have died to self, accept Yeshua as Messiah to the point of obedience, and who keep God’s appointed times. It’s supposed to be the ecclesia but they’ve gone a bit off track.

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