Wednesday, June 30, 2010

why so jewish?

The four words that have often come in some form or another to many of us in a conversation (or a rebuke)... "but you're not Jewish..."

My response to this always comes down to one simple fact: The Messiah was Jewish, I belong to Him, and I just want to be like Him. If G-d had chosen to send the Messiah into 20th century China instead of 1st century Israel, then I suspect that I would be more engrossed in Chinese history and culture. But He didn't...

Just as it was in Yeshua's day, the "spiritual segregation" of Jews and Gentiles (I prefer the terms Hebrews and non-Hebrews) is still going on in messianic congregations and gatherings today. The notion that non-Hebrew believers (like myself) are second-class citizens in the Kingdom G-d, and therefore they are not required to keep the Torah because it doesn't belong to them, is very prevalent... even causing a highly respected ministry organization to change their view and recant their position on this sensitive subject.

This issue has been on my mind and heart lately, as I have had the opportunity to hear for myself an individual who, in his Shabbat message, entirely excluded non-Hebrews from his teaching about observing Torah. He successfully left me and my husband feeling offended, hurt, and less than inspired as he proclaimed that Jewish believers are being led to keep the Torah by the Spirit of G-d (which is true, but what about me? Do I have the "Gentile Holy Spirit"? Is there not one Spirit of G-d?)

I am in the process of researching for the post that could be (from my vantage point) the post of all posts: the relationship between non-Hebrew believers and the Torah of G-d. This is a subject very near and dear to my heart... and perhaps yours too.

As a side note, I am enjoying my "vacation" in sunny South Florida, staying with my Rabbi and his family, and catching up with everyone that I have missed terribly this past six months. It is amazing to be back in my "home" congregation, where visitors have a hard time distinguishing between the "Jews" and the "Gentiles"... I suppose it will be like that also in the Kingdom of G-d, when ALL of His children sit at His feet, learning and doing Torah... just like Yeshua.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

boat tour on the Hudson River

We have been fairly busy with family and events lately. I am also in the process of preparing to leave for Florida on Sunday for a (long) visit. I will try to write more from there! Blessings, Joanna

Thursday, June 3, 2010

my "Called to Cover" interview

I was recently interviewed by a young woman and fellow blogger in her "Called to Cover" series, which I think is a great idea! If you are a head-covering woman, you can go to her blog, to be interviewed. I enjoyed answering the questions so much that I posted them here!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your faith
I am a 29 year old wife, mother of one, and "blogger" I have had a relationship with Yeshua for just over 7 years now, and have been pursuing the Torah and a messianic lifestyle for almost 6 of those 7 years. Becoming more and more Torah observant as those years went by, I have come to realize how much Yeshua truly loved and kept the Torah of G-d, and He desires His followers to do the same. My passion and calling in life is to share the Good News of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, with His own relatives, the Jewish people. My family is currently doing that in Brooklyn, New York, through the ministry of Chosen People Ministries.

2. Why do you choose to cover?
There are several reasons why I chose to begin covering my head with a hat. For one, it is a constant visual reminder for me that I am to be submissive to G-d always and everywhere because He is above me, and also a reminder to submit to my husband. There is also nothing in Scripture that would discourage a woman (especially a married woman) from covering her hair. Secondly, it sets me apart from other women and has led to conversations with orthodox Jewish women who felt comfortable and curious enough to talk to me about religion because my head was covered.

3. How long have you been covering?
I have been consistently covering my head for about a year now.

4. Do you wear your head covering everyday?
Yes. I wear it whenever I leave my home, or when I have company over.

5. Have you noticed a difference in the way others perceive/treat you?
Yes. I have had people comment on the fact that I seem "different" when I was attending a Christian college. Other than that, it's mostly a difference in the way that men look at me and interact with me that I have noticed.

6. Have you encountered any negative opposition to your choice from friends or family? If so, how do you deal with that?
I don't recall any negative opposition, but some have just asked questions, and when I answer them, they have usually been considerate and understanding. Now, living in a largely Muslim neighborhood, I do get some "looks" for my hat, long skirts, my Star of David necklace, etc. but I look forward to building relationships with them based on the foundation that they also value modesty, and that we are not enemies.

7. Do you have any advice or resource suggestions for women who are just beginning to cover?My advice would be this: The most beautiful thing about covering your hair is that you are saying to the world, "I am not oppressed or abused, I am so valuable that only my husband can see what my hair really looks like in its natural state. G-d gave me my hair as a covering, for the sake of modesty, and as a gift to the one man that I desire to desire me..." Don't worry about what other people think about your hair covering, what matters is your heart's attitude in the matter. Hair covering, like all issues of modesty, is really something that is between you and G-d, and your husband if you are married. A couple of resources that I found extremely encouraging are two articles: one at (scroll down for it), which is an explanation of why Jewish women cover their hair, and the other one is at which is a beautiful response from a Rabbi's wife to a question about hair covering, and it emphasizes the fact that we are choosing inner beauty over outer beauty.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the best part of waking up...

"You should wake up with gratitude to G-d for having restored your faculties, and with a lionlike resolve to serve your Creator, you should immediately declare:

I gratefully thank You, O living and eternal King, for You have returned [I say 'awakened'] my soul within me with compassion-- abundant is Your faithfulness."

~ "Upon Arising" from the
Artscroll Women's Siddur~

Thus begins the "Shacharit," or morning prayers in the Siddur. It should be the first thing one says when waking up each morning. If you're like me, perhaps you have mumbled it to yourself occassionally while dragging yourself out of bed to tend to the little one whose gleeful chatter flows from the baby monitor. I know that lions can be fairly lazy at times, but I don't think this is what is meant by "lionlike resolve!" I consider myself a "morning person" to an extent, because that is usually when I'm most productive and have the most energy. However, I cannot even begin to compare myself with my daughter, who is definitely a morning person! When she wakes up, she hardly ever cries. Rather, she jumps right back into the conversation she was having with herself the previous day... she squeals, she laughs, she bangs on the crib...

She has been a great reminder to me that the best part of waking up is not Folger's in your cup (although I do drink Folger's in the morning), but the best part of waking up is waking up! As soon as we realize that we have been given another day of life, there is more than enough reason to exclaim our gratitude! It is only with G-d's help that we are able to breathe at all. As it is stated in the "Bedtime Shema," we ask G-d "may You illuminate my eyes lest I die in sleep, for it is You who illuminates the pupil of the eye." Without His approval, there would be no waking up.

It's nice to read Psalm 5 in the morning, because in verse 3, it says: "In the morning, O L-RD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch." Mornings can be difficult for families, especially with small children. Nevertheless, we should strive to express our gratitude to HaShem and let Him hear our voice, so that we can prepare ourselves to "eagerly watch" and see what He will do throughout the day ahead.