Is Sar Shalom a “Messianic Synagogue”?
Sar Shalom is an observant Jewish synagogue that believes that Yeshua is the Messiah but we are not “messianic”. Messianic synagogues do not uphold the bulk of normative Jewish teachings, writings and traditions, nor do they embrace the Oral Torah (Talmud, etc.) to any appreciable degree. Most do not even follow the most basic mitzvot; meaning Scriptural commandments and principles such as wearing tzitzit, eating kosher, separating meat and dairy, head-coverings, honoring the Shabbat by not working or buying and selling, praying with tefillin, etc. In simplest terms, “messianic synagogues” and “Hebrew roots” congregations may look “Jewish” one day a week, but do not fully embrace a Torah observant lifestyle. This is not a criticism, it’s simply an explanation. Sar Shalom Synagogue embraces a distinctly and authentic Jewish identity – in form and function – as a daily lifestyle!
Is Sar Shalom only for Jewish believers?
Sar Shalom is for ALL believers in Messiah who are interested in a Torah observant Jewish lifestyle. Sar Shalom has both ethnically Jewish members and non-ethnically Jewish members who have converted to Yeshua-centered Judaism. We come from all walks of life, and our fellowship is open to anyone – regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or nationality – who shares our heart’s desire to praise, worship, learn, and grow in relationship with each other, in knowledge of Torah, in faith in Yeshua, and in love of HaShem!
So what kind of synagogue is Sar Shalom?
Sar Shalom is a unique synagogue; fully committed to an observant Jewish lifestyle as believers in Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah. We are living proof that one can have a fully observant Jewish faith and lifestyle, filled with absolute joy and freedom, as disciples of both the written and the living Torah!
Are you Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Renewal, or ???
Sar Shalom is orthodox on most points of halachah. We believe that the Scriptures are Divine, that Judaism is the true religion and the halacha is authoritative. This places us in the category of being orthodox. In some ways we might be described as Modern Orthodox, and in other ways as Neo-Chassidic. Whichever label people prefer, the best way to find out who we are is simply to come join us!
Why is following Torah so important?
Torah is the Scripture. Scripture is Divine; it is the path of righteousness for those who believe in HaShem. Following G-d’s eternal Word is not a matter of obligation and oppression, it’s a matter of obedience and opportunity. The question is “How can we live most joyously each day as a child of G-d and disciple of Yeshua, and walk in G-d’s promised blessings?” The answer is amazingly simple: follow the Torah! In fact, Yeshua is the Torah! When we follow the Torah, we are truly following the Messiah.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d. (John 1:1) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Is Sar Shalom synagogue “Sacred Name”, Hebrew Roots, or Sola Scriptura?
We would say, emphatically, NO! We consider each of these to be fundamentally wrong, clearly anti-Scriptural, and inherently anti-semitic.
“Sacred Name” proponents insist that one must use the “true, secret, and ancient” name of G-d when speaking, praying or conversing; and by not doing so, one commits a heinous sin. Unfortunately, the various groups within this movement also claim their particular version of the name (spelling, pronunciation, etc.) is the “right” one, and no other version is acceptable. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Houston, we have a problem! (In point of fact, the actual pronunciation of G-d’s name was lost a very long time ago, and will probably not be restored until the coming Messianic age.) Furthermore, the very premise itself is diametrically opposed to Judaism which, while recognizing G-d’s name is certainly holy (in fact He has many “sacred” names), accepts the commandment in Torah that teaches us to “guard” the name so that it always remains absolutely holy and sacred. For this reason, Sar Shalom holds to traditional Judaism by most often referring to, and calling upon, G-d as “HaShem” (the name). As appropriate, you will also hear us use Scriptural titles for G-d such as Elohim and Adonai; and Hebrew expressions such as HaKadosh Barechu (the holy one, blessed is He.) On very rare and special occasions, we will pronounce a portion of the divine name as a part of a berakhah (blessing) in accordance with Scriptural and Jewish norms (but not as a declaration that such pronunciation is the ineffable “sacred name” of G-d.)
“Alternative calendar” adherents insist the traditional Hebrew calendar is flawed; but as with the sacred name movement, these groups cannot agree upon which calendar is right. As an example, followers of the alternative calendar claim the Jewish faith is wrong in “counting of the omer” meaning the days between Pesach (Passover) and Shavu’ot (known as Pentecost in the Christian faith); even though their own proposed calendar cannot meet the very scriptural requirements they consider to be proofs that the Hebrew calendar is in error. Alternative calendar stands in direct opposition to thousands of years of Jewish precedent and clear historical fact and is little more than another ruse for anti-Semitism. As an observant Jewish synagogue, Sar Shalom steadfastly defends and follows the traditional Hebrew calendar. If you are interested in the specific explanations of why we hold to the Hebrew calendar, please read the “Counting the Omer” section of our Official Halacha.
Finally, we come to “sola scriptura” – another concept that sounds great on paper, but is absolutely impossible to follow in real life. Sola Scriptura means “Scripture alone” and its supporters believe that introducing anything into one’s walk of faith, beyond the actual words on the page of Scripture, is tantamount to sin. What they disagree with, they condemn as “traditions of men.” What they agree with, they defend regardless of scripture or historical fact. For instance, some “sola Scriptura” proponents decry the lighting of candles to usher in the Sabbath, insisting such activity is not a “commandment” found in Scripture. Yet, the same people have absolutely no problem serving un-kosher food – even pork or shellfish – for their sabbath meals because it is “so inconvenient and expensive to buy kosher” and “G-d knows our heart anyway.” In truth, sola Scripture is yet another cheat of the enemy intended to hide his ancient agenda of anti-semitism.
Does Sar Shalom keep Kosher?
Yes we do and by “kosher” we mean fully kosher rather than the arbitrary and subjective “Biblically kosher” as expressed in many messianic settings. In fact, we hold that Rabbinic Kosher is Biblically kosher. In addition, members of Sar Shalom follow Kashrut in accordance with normative Judaism including separation of meat and dairy.
Who should wear head coverings at Sar Shalom?
At Sar Shalom, most men wear kippahs or hats, and most woman wear hats or wrap their hair in the traditional techel (teh-kel). Guests are encouraged to wear head coverings, but are not required to do so. In specific regard to head coverings, members of Sar Shalom always cover their heads when reciting the Shema, and when reading Scripture each week, as an act of obedience and reverence.
What is a Kippa and Tallit?
The Kippah (yarmulke, etc.) is a small, round head covering. The Tallit is a fabric wrapping (basically a prayer shawl) worn about the head and shoulders, with tzitzit on the corners. Both of these are worn by observant Jewish men, usually at all times, but especially on Shabbat. Guests are welcome to wear these during service, but are not expected to.
In the Bible we find people covering their head when praying or in the presence of HaShem, and many other verses about being wrapped in a garment. King David even describes G-d this way,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment.” Ps.104:1-2
There are many styles and variations of kippah (head covering) and tallit (prayer shawl) and most men at Sar Shalom do wear these. However, guests are free to wear them or not. Regular attenders are encouraged to understand the purpose of these adornments, and include them as part of an observant Jewish lifestyle.
What are Tzitzit?
Tzitzit are tassels (knotted strings) with a thread of techellit (blue).
In Scripture, G-d specifically commands his chosen people to wear tzitzit as an eternal observance…
“Speak to the people of Isra’el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of Adonai’s mitzvot and obey them, so that you won’t go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your G-d. I am Adonai your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your G-d. I am Adonai your G-d.”
Yeshua wore tzitzit.
In the gospel accounts we read about the woman with the issue of blood, who “touched the hem of His garment.”
“As he (Yeshua) went, with the crowds on every side virtually choking him, a woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tzitzit on his robe; instantly her hemorrhaging stopped. Yeshua asked, “Who touched me?” When they all denied doing it, Kefa said, “Rabbi! The crowds are hemming you in and jostling you!” But Yeshua said, “Someone did touch me, because I felt power go out of me.” Seeing she could not escape notice, the woman, quaking with fear, threw herself down before him and confessed in front of everyone why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. He said to her, “My daughter, your trust has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 8:42b-43
The Greek word used for “hem” is “krespedon” and in context of the time (which is the first and most important way to consider Scripture) is most accurately translated, “fringes” or “tassles.” In fact, the entire Scriptural account in Luke 8:40-56 is a fascinating study, and another example of Messiah’s perfect Torah observance. It’s also one of the strongest proofs that Yeshua was NOT rejected by all the religious Jews, but was actually accepted and worship as the Messiah by many of the most important Jewish leaders at the time!
The Scripture is clear and Messiah’s example is clear: tzitzit are worn by everyone man who professes faith in the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob – without exception.
If you would like to know more about tzitzit and purchasing tzitzit for yourself, please ask anyone in senior leadership for additional information.
Can women wear the Tallit and Tzitzit at Sar Shalom?
Tzitzit is considered a male garment. This has been the case for thousands of years. Since it is forbidden for a female to wear a man’s garment (and visa-versa) women should not wear them. Women did not wear them in Messiah’s time either.
What are the “Feasts of the L-rd?”
There are eight feasts listed in Scripture (10 if separating out the combined ones) specifically in Leviticus 23 and again in other places. They include Shabbat (or Sabbath, celebrated on the seventh day of each week), Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost /Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah / Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Tabernacles. All of these feast were celebrated by the Jews before Messiah, by Yeshua himself, by the Disciples, and by the early believers for several centuries after Messiah’s resurrection.
Historically, the Roman “church” began to abandon celebration of the Scriptural festivals after 325 A.D. due in large part to the anti-semitic, anti-Torah teachings of dispensationalism and replacement theology, and the adaptation of pagan festivals by early church leaders in Europe. It is incredibly unfortunate that for nearly 2000 years the rich blessings of these G-d ordained celebrations and remembrances have been stolen from those who proclaim faith in the Jewish Messiah – i.e. Christians – but no longer. The Moedim (i.e. Biblical feasts /festivals) provide a beautiful reflection of G-d’s eternal plan for mankind, which is precisely why He said to observe them throughout “all generations.” And that’s precisely what we do!