Messianic Judaism is ancient; it was the religion of the first generation of Yeshua’s disciples. Our world, however, perceives it as a new movement because Messianic Judaism didn’t emerge out of the dust of history in its modern form until the 1970s.

At the 1969 Hebrew Christian Alliance of America in Asheville, North Carolina, attendees started singing Havenu Shalom Aleichem. Six years later, they renamed the group the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and never looked back. The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC) formed just a few years after that. Hebrew Christianity was becoming Messianic Judaism, and an intentional shift in focus and praxis began to take place. Yeshua was still at the center, but the context shifted to a synagogue expression instead of a church one.

The early Hebrew Christian movement provided a spiritual home for Jewish people who had become Christians but still wanted to retain some connection to their Jewish identity despite being in the church. Messianic Judaism took Jewish identity a step further. Jewish disciples began consciously reconnecting with Jewish practice for its own sake and strove to build Messianic Jewish congregations.

This movement, of course, had its figureheads, and anyone who studies this turbulent period of Messianic Jewish history is likely to encounter names such as Martin Chernoff, Manny Brotman, Dan Juster, and, of course, David H. Stern. My personal connection with Dr. and Mrs. Stern began before I could even begin to realize what Dr. Stern’s contribution to the Messianic Jewish movement was, and what it would mean to me.