If you were to walk into a Messianic congregation in Israel today, you would be in for an experience that is unique in the world. Jewish believers in Yeshua are coming into their own; the songs, the sermons, and the prayers are normally all in Hebrew. Whereas at one time it was obligatory to translate everything into English, today many congregations are able to focus their energies on meeting the needs of their Israeli members. Worship is generally lively and informal, and congregations foster a living counter-culture, providing a place where their members can grow spiritually and be nurtured in their faith. There still are a lot of ‘foreigners’ and a large percentage of members will speak either English or Russian, but worshipping with believers in the Land is increasingly a truly ‘Israeli’ experience.
Israeli believers in Yeshua are actively creating a form of Messianic Judaism that is unique in the world. Congregations are incredibly diverse, yet as a whole they have chosen their own path, which is distinct from the needs and norms of Diaspora Messianic Judaism. Not feeling a keen need to affirm their Jewish identity, their congregations typically dispense entirely with liturgy from the Siddur (prayer book). Musical instruments, which are forbidden in Synagogues, are in abundance. Yes, when you visit an Israeli Messianic congregation, there is a palpable sense that a great movement of the Spirit is happening here!
Today, Israeli congregations have their own songs, their own teachers and their own associations which link them together. Nevertheless, they are amazingly diverse – as varied as the people of Israel itself.
Some of the diversity is due to the origins of those who founded them. Thus some are more charismatic, Pentecostal, evangelical or mainline in their worship styles. Some Messianic Congregations were founded before the modern State of Israel was established in 1948 – either by early pioneering Messianic Jews who saw the need to worship in their own truly Israeli way, or by venerable church institutions.
The various waves of immigration to Israel have introduced more diversity. Some Messianic congregations are almost entirely Russian, Ethiopian or American in their membership. Others are a veritable mosaic of nationalities. Sometimes a sermon is translated from Hebrew into English, then Russian, and finally into Romanian. Sitting through such a service is like sitting in an echo chamber!
Messianic Congregations also vary depending on their location; congregations in Tel Aviv are quite different than those in Jerusalem, which are different from those in the desert in the south. Needless to say, no two congregations are identical. Nevertheless, a common language, common worship music, and the natural effect of being together in a relatively small country increasingly bind them together. Wherever you attend, come to learn, love, and bless – and you will be blessed.