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May 21st, 2010
04:08 PM ET

Jews for Jesus founder dies

Moishe Rosen, the founder of the evangelical Christian group Jews for Jesus, died Wednesday from prostate cancer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. He was 78.

Born to Jewish parents, Rosen (whose first name was Martin) converted to Christianity with his wife before he went on to become a Baptist minister. While in San Francisco, California, in the early 1970s, he saw the Jesus People revival, a countercultural draw to religion, and the Jews who were attracted to it. So he changed his name to Moishe, his Hebrew name given at birth, and established Jews for Jesus - an organization bent on "saving" Jews.

The organization's mission statement reads: "We exist to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide."

Jews for Jesus currently has branch offices in 11 countries, according to its website. Rosen served as executive director until 1996 but stayed involved until his death.

In a letter he wrote to the organization's adherents, published on the site after his death, he said:

I hope I can count on you to show love and respect for the Jewish people, but Jewishness never saved anybody. Judaism never saved anybody no matter how sincere. Romans 10:9 & 10 make it clear that we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus in order to be saved. There are no shortcuts. There is no easy way. Within Judaism today, there is no salvation because Christ has no place within Judaism.

A large proportion of those affiliated with the organization were born in Christian homes. For those who were born in Jewish homes, they see no contradiction in calling themselves Jews while accepting Jesus as their messiah.

But for Jews who are practicing Jews, Rosen's organization and mission has long stirred up outrage. It even helped spawn an organization called Jews for Judaism, which is dedicated to helping Jews counter the arguments and tactics of those who target them for conversion.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Judaism

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. EP

    Thank God for Moishe Rosen. I am sure he is resting in peace...and partying in heaven.

    July 31, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  2. MB

    People, please wake up and smell the coffee. Jesus was never God's son. There's only one God. Jesus was picked as a rightly guided messenger and prophet. Why are we here? to begin with, just look around you. Unless you live in a cave, you're surrounded by things that we, humans, made with our hands. Now, why did we make those things? The answer of course, we make things to serve us. So by extension, why did God make us if not to serve him.

    July 30, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • Porter

      Perhaps it is true that the Created exist only to serve the Creator. But your attempt at theistic logic takes one very large leap – the assumption that God made man. I would ask you this: is it not just as likely and with far more demonstrable instances that it is the other way around? That God is just another one of man's creations?

      July 30, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  3. alex

    his point was that no matter how religious you are you cannot be granted salvation without fully accepting Jesus Christ as the son of God, the one true Lord. The problem with the Jews is that they never seem to understand that their most fundamental influence, Jesus Christ, is defamed into being just a guy that was jewish...it is idiosyncratic to have a religion that contradicts themselves all the time, Jesus was Jewish but he was also the son of God, if you dont believe that then you will suffer eternal damnation (just accept that he was the son of God)....hence the constant persecution throughout history and being a laughing stock amongst every religion...look what south park does with jewish conceptions...the jews are a mockery without humbling themselves enough to accept that God has a son and he is Jesus Christ...Get over it, and accept Him.

    July 30, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Dby1100

    How the hell does this Yeshua, "jesus" fulfill ANY of the roles of the Moshiach? Even according to the heretics, Christians, he died a heretic, a blasphemer, a traitor, a sorcerer, yet despite this he as executed as a non-citizen common criminal by the Romans on a stick. He was not a king, he was not from the House of David, he certainly wasn't Hashem in a base human form, or three gods (Christianity never has made this clear at all). Yeshua brought nothing, and died nothing, and most of the false books of the false heresy of Christianity were written by pagan Greeks who made this person into some type of tritheistic, illogical, resurrection rehash of Horus or whatever lie that existed from the heathens.

    July 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  5. Smith

    Can we just evolve and move on please?

    July 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.