Messianic Jews Face Backlash From Ohio Community by the Forward

Messianic Jews Face Backlash From Ohio Community

A new Messianic school in Dayton, Ohio, is prompting some backlash among the Jewish community.

According to a recent Dayton Jewish Observer report a so-called Messianic Jewish group named Ahavat Torah Yeshiva is ramping up online activity — but not clearly indicating to potential members that the group does not follow traditional Judaism and believes that Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

The Observer spoke with Reform and Orthodox rabbis in the area who decried the broader Messianic community as either not a “part of the Jewish people” or actively engaged in targeting Jews, presumably to convert them to Christianity.

But one Reform rabbi was more sympathetic and said that Messianics and Christian evangelicals should be seen as political allies to Israel. “Our church alliances are shifting. The evangelicals are supporting Israel, and many of the liberal movements are not,” said Rabbi Judy Chessin of Temple Beth Or.

Chessin also said she welcomes Messianics into her community. “We had people at our High Holy Days, we had people at Sukkot — maybe 10 people — so obviously this community is looking for someplace to celebrate what feels like home to them.”

The Messianic group appears to be going through some internal shifts and recently changed its name from Beth Simchat Yeshua Messianic Jewish Synagogue to Ahavat Torah Yeshiva. The leader of the congregation is named Thurlow Adams; he goes by Rabbi Tziyon.

Contact Sam Kestenbaum at or on Twitter,@skestenbaum


Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum .

Messianic Jews Face Backlash From Ohio Community

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Messianic Jews Face Backlash From Ohio Community

Thank you!

This article has been sent!