The Jerusalem Council

A Global Association of Orthodox Jewish Disciples of Messiah Yeshua

Do you give semicha (Rabbinic Ordination)?

There are certain requirements to be recognized as a rabbi (teacher) within Judaism.

One must be both:

  1. Jewish.
  2. An ordained leader of a beit knesset with sufficient knowledge to render halakhic decisions; or an ordained Torah scholar with sufficient knowledge to render halakhic decisions.

“Sufficient knowledge” is defined as a mastery of the Torah, and is generally recognized to include a formal education in Jewish religious studies, and/or a recognition by peers concerning one’s knowledge of the Torah and materials usually covered by such a formal education at a Jewish yeshiva.

It is the desire of the volunteers at JerusalemCouncil.org to establish a qualified beit din which will provide smicha to qualified candidates in the future.

Out of respect for the diverse communities that make up our volunteer base, at this time we will recognize and use the titles various leaders within our community have been given by their peers. This is consistent with the practice of greater Judaism.

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9 Responses to “Do you give semicha (Rabbinic Ordination)?”

  • Pat Power says:

    I’m confused – sorry. Who officiates at your conversions to Judaism if you don’t ordain your own Jewish rabbis? Thanks!

    Pat Power

  • Israel says:

    At this point, the community ordains their own leadership, following the example that Rambam lays out concerning the re-establishment of smicha as being derived from the community.

    Also, any Jew can witness a conversion, not just a rabbi. However, a Beit Din is required to recognize someone as Jewish, yet it was the Beit Din of the first Jerusalem Council that already recognized converts from the nations as equal participants in the Jewish community upon their commitment to teshuvah, and immersion into the name of Moshiach, with the expectation that they would learn and do more and more Torah, including getting circumcised. These requirements are still expected of converts to any orthodox Jewish sect before recognizing someone as Jewish, however the circumcision requirement is the first requirement of conversion in all other sects of Judaism, and it is likely that in the 1st Century, circumcision wasn’t expected of immediately of converts to HaDerech Judaism until after they demonstrated that they were secure in their hope in the World to Come by identifying in Moshiach alone, and not through Jewish conversion. Jewish conversion was seen by HaDerech as a means of continued teshuvah after initial submission to Messiah Yeshua, and the receiving of the Spirit of HaShem.

  • Pat Power says:

    OK – that’s a little clearer. I guess my next question is whether you anticipate that an orthodox rabbi outside of the Messianic movement will confirm your converts as Jews after this extended process of acculturation? Are you working with any particular group now? I also wonder how many congregations or covenant communities are connected with your leadership? In case you are wondering why I am asking all these questions, I am working on a dissertation proposal that would pick up writing the ongoing history of the Hebrew-Christian, Messianic movement. The last academic flurry of interest was around the turn of the millennium and not much has been done systematically since. I am particularly interested in Messianic conversions and how groups who do these envision integrating their new Jews into the larger Jewish community (or do they?). This seems to a new development, relatively speaking.

    Thanks for your time,

    Pat Power
    Arizona State University
    Dept. of Religious Studies
    Tempe, AZ
    [email protected]

    • We do not anticipate other orthodox sects of Judaism recognizing our converts – even after an extended process of acculturation. After all, at its inception, the Messianic following of Yeshua was clearly Jewish, with little if any Gentile influence, and they were rejected within a generation. Messiah did warn us that we would be kicked out of the assembly, out of the synagogue, and if it happened to them, it can happen to us. Not that being kicked out is our aim – our aim is to make teshuvah, which does require a community to be lived out in full – but being rejected by other Jews is a reality that all potential converts must be aware of when seeking conversion.

      We are not working actively with any orthodox sects yet, however we do have an affinity towards Chabad and other Chassidic sects of orthodox Judaism that our converts could feel at home with, and often orthodox Messianic Jews will more than likely be found in such an orthodox shul rather than in a known Messianic congregation. Interestingly, other sects of Judaism such as Reform and Reconstructionist groups tend to be more friendly towards Messianics on an intellectual and community level (I say this sparingly since I only know those in my current circle of contacts), but Reform, or Reconstructionist Judaism is not our aim as orthodox Jews.

      Orthodox Jews who also believe Yeshua is the Messiah, are found, interestingly enough, not in Messianic Judaism, but in the orthodox shul. This is nothing new. The cost of doing so is of course hiding one’s identity as a believer in Messiah Yeshua; but since Yeshua’s teachings are authentically Torah and authentically Jewish by nature, this isn’t difficult, sans making an effort to actually mention his name or be seen associating with known Christians – a condition that those rabbis of those congregations that are aware of such believers in their midst, make it a point to tell such believers to not proselytize (which isn’t the aim of any orthodox believer there anyways).

      Our organization here seeks to teach Messiah from the Torah, and thus teshuvah, or repentance to the Torah. This includes obedience to the established authorities of Judaism, which includes the Sages, and the new Sanhedrin, in addition to being held responsible to one another by setting up accountability structures within our own communities. We provide a Beit Din for those communities seeking a covering, and to help questions submitted by the public on this site. We have several volunteers, communities, and rabbis that are part of this project, from Israel to the UK to India to various African nations to Australia to the United States. If anything we see firsthand on a daily basis the global nature of this movement toward an authentic Torah-based Messianic Judaism. We are a new project in this endeavor – about two years old, and only in the last three months have we turned our focus on writing good quality apologetic articles, and responding to the inquires that do come in. We have not had to advertise. People seem to find us from all over. We are growing organically, so for now our primary project is gathering data on every single known Messianic community and congregation on the web, and publishing that, in an effort to increase communication between the scattered pockets of Messianic Judaism in the world, with the aim of coming together on a shared platform of teshuvah and accountability. Perhaps someday there will actually be a Jerusalem Council again. We are just a placeholder for that vision and welcome those with input, to join us.

      If you are looking for a documented history of those who have made teshuvah over the centuries, check out: The Documented History of Torah Observant Believers

  • Uziel says:

    Shalom Chaver Israel!

    You wrote:

    At this point, the community ordains their own leadership, following the example that Rambam lays out concerning the re-establishment of smicha as being derived from the community.

    Could you give me the exact qoute of the Rambam? I will apreciate it.

    Also you wrote:

    …any Jew can witness a conversion, not just a rabbi.

    Could you explain this to me. How can any jew, not beeing a Rabbi,could halachically be the witness of a formal conversion? My questions are not ment to fight youre positions but to learn from them.

    -Talmid Uziel Omar

    • I prefer what the Torah says concerning the matter. It is written “you shall appoint leaders.” For purpose of being a witness to conversion, the Torah describes a valid witness as any righteous Jew who can testify in court.

  • Uziel Omar says:

    I understand. What I want to know is where I can find the example of the Rambam on this matter. It will be greate to have this quote beacause that means that community ordained Rabbis are halakhically Rabbis.

  • I’ll get the reference for you after the holiday. Chag Sameach!

  • Uziel Omar says:

    You can send it to my personal e-mail if you want to.