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Messianic Judaism is a generic term given to a syncretic religion that blends Jewish rites and rituals with the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah. While the theology is largely Christian, based on the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah, which inherently brings with it a "fulfilled prophecy" eschatology and theology, it also embraces elements of Jewish practices and Jewish law. Mainstream Jews consider it a form of Christianity, not Judaism.
The Messianic Jewish movement arose in the 1970s, though it has its origins in the Hebrew Christian movement that started in the late nineteenth century as a movement dedicated to missionary work and wanting to convert as many Jews as possible to Christianity. They decided that what drove Jews away from being converted was the fact that Christianity did not seem Jewish enough. Shocking, right? You'd think that they were two different religions or something.
Messianic Judaism, by contrast, took on more aspects of Judaism, self-identifying as a Jewish community and using as little overt Christian symbolism as possible. Hence, Messianic Jews worship in synagogues rather than churches, services are on Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath) rather than Sunday, and during worship services the men will wear taleisim (prayer shawls).
Sometimes Messianic Jews follow Orthodox Jewish traditions, with the men and women separated, prayers in Hebrew, the Torah being read from, and a rabbi talking. However, a person familiar with Hebrew and mainstream Jewish practices attending a Messianic Jewish service would find much of the proceedings unfamiliar.
Messianic Jews take their theology from both Christianity and Judaism, though there is no doubt that the Christian influence is stronger.
As with most religions, there is a range of views about the theology. As many Messianic Jews were raised Jewish, their views might be closer to Judaism, while others who were raised Christian and "became" Jewish carry Christian views of much of the theology.
Conventional beliefs within Messianic Judaism include the following:
- There is one God. The majority of Messianic Jews accept the Trinity, with it also being the stance of the official bodies.  
- The Messiah has come; Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
- Torah is still law. The Christian argument that Jesus fulfilled the law, thereby abrogating large parts of the Mosaic code, is not held by most Messianic Jews.
- The Children of Israel are and remain God's chosen people.
- The holy scriptures include the Torah, the Nevi'im , and the Ketuvim (the Tanackh), as well as the books of the New Testament, and Paul's writings about the changes to the Church. A minority of Messianic Jews do not follow Paul's writings, only the four books directly about Jesus.
- There is a view of the Second Coming and "end days".
- Belief in the devil opposing God.
- Belief in Hell as a place of eternal torment.
- Some Messianic Jews see sin in the way that is traditionally taught in Judaism, but include the concept of Original Sin as understood by Christians 
- Atonement and Yom Kippur are important to most Messianic Jews, however a minority say that it is unnecessary because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
- Faith and works are not separate issues as they are in Protestantism.
- Most Messianic Jews do not use traditional English Bibles for their Tanakh, but rather use their own translations.
- Messianic Jews mostly reject the literature of Rabbinic Judaism, such as the Mishnah, Talmud, Midrashim, the Zohar, etc. Some other Jewish denominations take the same position, e.g. the Karaites.
- Messianic Jews observe the Jewish law, Jewish forms of worship, dietary restrictions, rites and festivals, and believe that Jesus and the the Apostles would have done the same. This conflicts with mainstream Christianity, and most biblical scholarship, which takes the view that the Apostles (Paul in particular) broke with Jewish law and traditions in order to promote Christianity among gentiles.
 Messianic Judaism and the Israeli Law of Return
Like most non-mainstream religions, Messianic Jews have had to defend their rights to religious freedom. However, some of the Christian converts have tried to use their new "Jewish" identity to claim the right to live in Israel. The state of Israel has consistently held that a Messianic Jew may not take advantage of the Law of Return as it is Christianity and not Judaism. As such Jews that have converted to Messianic Judaism may not use the law of return, just as Jewish converts to any other religion are barred.
- Targets the vulnerable
- Like most proselytizing religions, Messianic Judaism targets vulnerable people, such as the young away from home at college. There are claims they use deception to infiltrate Jewish communities to gain access to the community members.
- Not Jewish or not "correctly" Jewish
- Most of the world's Jewish communities see Messianic Judaism as Christian, not Jewish. All official bodies of Judaism have rejected Messianic Judaism as being a Jewish religion. In Judaism, though, a Jew who converts to another religion is still considered to be connected to Judaism as they will be judged, and punished, in the world to come as Jews not as a non-Jew. This means that in the Jewish understanding, they are punished with Kares, spiritual excission, permanently cut off from God and the Jewish people in the world to come.
 Unexpected consequences
The development of the Messianic Jewish movement has had some unintended consequences. While the movement has not been as successful at converting Jews as it had hoped, it has been very successful at attracting Christians, which has created theological divisions within the movement. A bigger issue is the fact that with non-Jews out numbering Jews at most synagogues, the ability of Messianic Jews to make their services appear Jewish has dwindled, making the whole thing less effective as a missionary tool. 
 See also
- ↑ http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html
- ↑ http://www.schechter.edu/AskTheRabbi.aspx?ID=437
- ↑ http://www.schechter.edu/AskTheRabbi.aspx?ID=438
- ↑ http://data.ccarnet.org/cgi-bin/respdisp.pl?file=68&year=carr
- ↑ http://www.aleph.org/faq.htm
- ↑ http://www.mcu.edu/papers/mess_jud.htm
- ↑ http://www.mjaa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Spg_About_History_StmFaith
- ↑ http://www.bmja.net/
- ↑ http://www.iamcs.org/WhatWeBelieve.php
- ↑ http://www.lightofmashiach.org/one.html
- ↑ Wikipedia Messianic Jewish theology - Sin
- ↑ http://messiahyeshua.blogspot.com/2008/01/yetzar-hara-original-sin.html
- ↑ Bruce Manning Metzger The Bible in translation: ancient and English versions 2001 - Page 146-147
- ↑ About our Bible
- ↑ Azulai, Yuval (October 3, 2009). "איך נלחם ארגון "יד לאחים" ביהודים המשיחיים? רמז: כל האמצעים כשרים [How does the Yad L'Achim organization battle Messianic Jews? Hint: Anything goes]" (in (Hebrew)). Haaretz. Retrieved August 10, 2010. (taken from Wikipedia)
- ↑ http://newsodrome.com/judaism_news/court-convicts-missionary-of-attacking-yad-l-achim-activist-21670785
- ↑ http://www.jewsforjudaism.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=223:got-friends-responding-to-missionaries-and-cults-on-campus-and-in-israel&catid=27:missionary-groups--tactics-and-responses&Itemid=504
- ↑ http://www.jewishmag.com/24mag/feldman/feldman.htm
- ↑ http://www.chaim.org/russian.htm
- ↑ http://dailyminyan.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/jewish-majority-messianic-communities/
- ↑ http://www.keithhunt.com/jesse/messianicgentiles.htm