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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. Russ from Kansas

    After reading all of the previous postings, I felt awfully sad. Not angry, just sad. More than ever, we human beings need one another and should stick together considering the challenges today's world brings. I am not a religious scholar, so I'll just humbly say that I think practicing a religion is a more about the journey of life than about exact answers. That is, through seeking our way in life, we should be grateful toward the one who gave us this planet on which to live, treat all life as sacred and meaningful, and to look out for one another as times get rough. After all, especially for those who come from an Abrahamic religious tradition, this is precisely when God began to communicate with Abraham. Beforehand, human beings treated one another terribly, justice was perverted, violence seemed to be the answer to all problems. I'm grateful to be on this planet with all those who have posted before me. I'm sure that, in the end, you are all fundamentally good people whether you believe in a higher being or not.

    July 30, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  2. AshannaK

    This man is in for a surprise. Jesus came to fulfill not to change. Therefore, he was Jewish. Christianity didn't start until after Paul shot his mouth off and took the teachings of Jesus and interpreted them according to what he believed Him to be. Jesus was the son of God. But....was he God, the Son? We'll find out eventually.

    July 30, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  3. John Gault

    Sounds like a self hating Jew to me. Jesus was Jewish so if it was good enough for him who are we to say let's save them. haha The very idea of "saving" souls is not just insulting, but it is so filled with hubris, arrogance and pride that it boggles the mind. It's this kind of thinking that leads to burning people at the stake. Thinking that your life or beliefs is any more sacred than anothers leads to the belittling and destruction of other cultures. Worry about your own soul, worry about your own salvation, and leave everyone else alone! Gd will sort people out, or not. I do not care who you are but I am just so sick of people who who are so self absorbed and sure of themselves, prattling around spreading nonsense when if they really believed what they are spouting they they would focused on making the world a better place through leadership by example. Take care of the world around you and give back rather than this empty preaching and arrogance. No one wants to hear from any of you kooks AND if I am interested I willl look you up.

    July 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  4. ChuckW

    Jesus may have preached love and forgiveness, but his followers have preached hate and intolerance for over 2000 years. If the fact that Christianity has survived for that long makes it correct, then how to explain the longevity of Judaism (more than 3500 years), Hinduism, or other living, vital religions that predate Christianity and the time of Jesus? A true Christian would prech love and understanding and not that he or she has the only answer. Most of the New Testament was written long after the death of Jesus by people who never knew Jesus personally. Get your facts straight before you try to paint those who disagree with your theology as intolerant or anti-religion. Only those who find all the answers in one simplistic viewpoint are anti-religion.

    July 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • mr. stinky

      Good point, but Judaism is way older than 3,500 years, closer to 5,700...

      July 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
  5. Ana

    I am very sorry that Mr. Rosen passed away. His family has my sincere sympathy. Why must people be so mean and judgemental just because their beliefs differ from him?
    Shame of all you hypocrites.
    You need to ask yourself WWJD?
    I guarantee you it would not be judging others or spreading hate and discontent. Jesus preached love and forgiveness.

    July 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  6. Mark

    Luke 24:27 – And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.

    May 25, 2010 at 6:14 am |
    • Dby1100

      Your "god" was a blasphemer, a traitor to Jews, his people, a heretic. To Rome who decided his fate he was a nationalist rebel, you worship a criminal on a stick. Your heresy of Christianity made a mere man G_d, conflated him with false gods and pagan Greco-Roman culture (e.g. Horus). Forsake the false books of your heresy and follow Hashem.

      July 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  7. Leslie

    It is so funny to me that you "I hate religion" folks overtake every blog about Christian topics. Get over yourselves. "Me thinks thou dost protest too much." Your knees will bow, one day.

    May 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  8. sojourner

    I assure you...the Way is narrow...the gate is straight–Jesus is the Way. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life...and i am striving to enter in at the straight gate. Jesus of Nazareth is God. His Word will never, ever pass away...I assure you.

    Grace and Peace to you all.

    May 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm |
  9. righteous-in-Christ

    @ Angie – People who doesn't the Truth will easily bash other people's faith. They just don't have a life!

    May 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      On the other hand, we have great lives. You probably think atheists are all angry, bitter, broken people, don't you? That's because you are so dependent upon your drug, er- I mean religion, that YOU would be angry, bitter, and broken if you somehow lost it. You would undergo classic withdrawal symptoms because of your advanced state of psychological dependence.

      It's too bad there's no methadone drug rehab therapy for religious fundamentalism. Those of us who never became addicted in the first place can live quite happily without your drug, er- I mean "religion".

      May 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  10. AngieB

    Why does it even bother people what religion a person follows or believes in? Who cares if a man decided to create an organization that he had faith in? Nobody said you had to agree with it, but why bash? Too each his/her own. But I must say, I love Jesus! =)

    May 23, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
  11. righteous-in-Christ

    Religion may be abolished, but God will still be God, with or without Religion.

    May 23, 2010 at 12:07 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      And Xenu the Galactic Overlord will still be Xenu the Galactic Overlord, even if Scientology is abolished. Thor the Thunder God is still Thor the Thunder God even though the Norse pagan religion is now extinct. Apollo the Sun God is still Apollo the Sun God even though his religion has been gone for nearly two thousand years. So what?

      May 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  12. GodFace

    If this world is ever going to take a step toward the future, religion of all types will need to be abolished.

    May 23, 2010 at 7:54 am |
  13. M Hacohain

    mazel tov

    May 22, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
  14. Timmy

    This guy was my hero.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  15. Collette

    To Lisa,

    Paul or Saul of Tarsus before he converted to the "Way" which was what Christianity was originally called did meet Jesus on the Damascus road. He even talks frequently about this encounter. After meeting Jesus, he lost his eye sigt for 3 days when he was given the revelation by God to spread the word to others until the time of his execution. As much as people try to dispute what the Bible says or it's accuracy, you must admit that it has held up over time. If it was just a fluke, then why does it still exist when so many other religions disappeared. Look how many other people came and went claiming to be the Messiah, however, can you name any of them besides Jesus Christ? You can offer only so many counterarguments before you must admit to yourself that you don't know everything there is to know. All I know is my God is real and his name is Jesus and he's not some distant god who you have to try to reach out to, he reaches out to anyone who wants to get at him.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:15 am |
    • Trash

      Prove it.

      May 22, 2010 at 11:41 am |
    • Michael Wong

      Collette, are you saying that if Christianity had been wiped out, then it would have been proven wrong? To argue that the truth of a religion is determined by its longevity is to make religious persecution into an arbiter of truth!

      Numerous minor sects of Christianity were exterminated by the Catholic Church during the dark ages and middle ages. Did the act of exterminating those sects make the Catholic beliefs more true, and their beliefs less true?

      What a horrible idea, to declare that Christianity is true because it has survived while other religions were wiped out. To use the extermination of beliefs as a way of judging their validity ... truly disgusting.

      May 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
    • Lubiana

      I am with you Collette and I applaud you for speaking out

      May 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • Ana

      Amen sister.
      Why are the atheists and agnostics so caustic towards Christians and Christianity?? Do they perhaps fear that which they do not know or understand? Perhaps they should take some time away from reality television and the video games to actually research what Christianity really is and who Christ really is... God is Love.

      July 30, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
    • Simon of Galilee

      If Jesus came back he would be Jewish and speaking Hebrew.. I doubt he would recognize any church and would deny Christianity and Islam outright. Instead he would weep at what had happened to his chosen people when he left but rejoice as well that they remember their history and culture and resisted assimilation.

      July 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • verify

      Ana, many, if not most, atheists/agnostics are former believers. They do know what you preach... and do not share those beliefs. "God", and his alleged attributes are your creations.

      July 30, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  16. TQ White II

    I don't have any objection to the ideas of the Jews for Jesus bunch. I am offended by the name. An essential tenet of Judaism prohibits the worship of anyone but God, period. To call oneself a Jew while worshipping Jesus is to try to revise the meaning of the word Jew. This is disrespectful and offensive.

    Identify yourself as Christians and I'm your friend. It's ok it's ok to think that, as a Jew, I would be better if I changed to worshipping Jesus instead of God. It's not ok to try to change the meaning of Judaism.

    Call yourselves Christians that Love Hebes. I'll stop by your pancake breakfast for a chat.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
    • Joe

      Is worshiping Christ not the same thing? After all, the Holy Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Was Jesus not God on Earth in the form of man?

      July 30, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  17. Lisa

    I hate it when people quote the Bible and say that you should believe it just because it is written in the Bible. There are many holy books to choose from. 60-70% of the New Testament was written by Paul, who never met Jesus. The rest of it is composed of second hand accounts written 75-100 years later. Can you give an accurate account word for word of what your grandmother and great grandmother said with 100% accuracy. The deity of Christ was created by the Council of Nicea. Prior to the Council of Nicea, Jesus was consisdered a prophet.

    May 22, 2010 at 7:32 am |
    • Joe

      Sounds like someone here saw The DaVinci Code and actually believes it was a factual story, lol!

      July 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  18. greenbird

    so, Politifactual, you're a "Christian". not a Christian. if you're so desperate to conform God's word(even the simplest bits, like Jesus being the ONLY way to salvation) to your own opinions, you're clearly not a Christian.

    May 21, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
    • Michael Wong

      greenbid, you honestly think you DON'T read whatever you want into the Bible, don't you? What a joke; people have always used the Bible to support their own prejudices. There's enough material in there to condemn anyone. Conveniently, when you read it "properly", it always condemns other people more than you, doesn't it?

      May 23, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  19. Politifactual

    Jesus was jewish not christian. This man was ignorant and was completely disrespectful of the Jewish religion no matter what his intentions were. Im Christian but i dont think that Jews or anybody else has any less chance of going to heaven if there is one as long as they are good people. This whole idea that "Jesus is the only way to salvation" is taken out of context.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
    • Cindy

      Dear Politifactual,

      There is only One True God. Yahweh, Jehovah, are some of the names HE is called in the Word of God. Jesus Himself said, in John 14 NIV 6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

      Jesus also said, in John 10 NIV 30 " I and the Father are one."

      After reading these versus, directly from Jesus Christ, how can you dispute that Jesus is the only way to get into heaven?

      Christianity came about later on. The name 'Christian' actually came from Catholicisim.

      May 21, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
    • Trash

      You guys are embarrassing to humanity and basic intelligence..

      May 22, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • Kim

      Politifactual – Amen! Thank you – someone with common sense. 🙂

      May 23, 2010 at 10:54 am |
    • Ken

      Calgary Sandy said "There was no Catholic Church before the Reformation."... The name Catholic began to be used to describe the Church by Ignatius in the beginning of the 2nd century. Long before the Protestant Reformation.
      Also, the council of Nicaea 1, in 325 was primarliy to condemn the herisy of Arianism.

      May 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
    • Kathy

      Yes, Jesus was Jewish but was also "God in the flesh" come to save the world from sin. Jesus acknowledged Himself to be the "only way." Achieving forgiveness and entering into heaven once we die cannot be accomplished just by being a "Good Person"... as we will always sin no matter how hard we try not to.
      Jesus himself said, "I am the way, the truth and the life and NO man comes to the Father except through me."
      If it were true that by good merit and works that we could enter into Heaven then the Cross would be nullified and hold no meaning. The Cross is the price God paid to cover our sins. Only by the blood can we be forgiven. All one has to do is to believe in this, ask for forgiveness, repent and live as Christ would have us to live. Then our good works done in secret will be to the glory of God, our Heavenly Father. What a wonderful free gift of salvation to live eternally. All you have to do is ask Him.

      July 30, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  20. Moooohammud Cow

    If heaven actually existed, I'm sure he'd be up there smiling. 🙂

    Almost makes it a shame that religion isn't real. 😦

    May 21, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
    • Bobby

      Good riddance,Moishe.Now you are with the make believe man in the sky

      July 30, 2010 at 4:17 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.