Jews for Jesus is a ministry organization based in San Francisco, California, with the stated purpose to “relentlessly pursue God’s plan for the salvation of the Jewish people.” Jews for Jesus grew out of the turbulent hippie movement in the 1960s in San Francisco. The organization practices truth in advertising by making sure that those people on the front lines of ministry and evangelism are, indeed, Jews who are also “for Jesus.” Jews for Jesus is a non-denominational, independent mission relying on individual and church donations for funding.
Jews for Jesus was founded by Moishe Rosen, born in 1932 in Kansas City, Missouri, as Martin Meyer Rosen. He was given the Hebrew name “Moishe” at his circumcision, and he was reared in a nominally religious Jewish family. When his wife, Ceil, came to know Jesus as her Messiah and Savior, Moishe was convinced that he would be able to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah. He began to study the facts concerning Jesus, and his research became the very way in which he, too, became a believer in Jesus the Messiah. His zeal for the Lord Messiah led him to study at Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey. He then became affiliated with American Board of Missions to the Jews (ABMJ), now known as The Chosen People Ministries. Moishe soon began to reach out to the Jewish hippies and counterculture in New York City and later in San Francisco.
Rosen developed the concept of the “broadside,” which is similar to a gospel tract but uses a folded, standard-size sheet of paper with humorous quips and eye-catching graphics to communicate the message of the gospel. Today, Jews for Jesus no longer focuses on handing out broadsides. Rather, the organization focuses on facilitating Jewish life, creating spaces to demonstrate what it looks like to be a Jewish believer in Jesus. Jews for Jesus hosts Jewish holiday events, promotes one-on-one and group Bible studies, organizes service projects, and runs the Moishe Rosen Center in Tel Aviv and the Upside Down cafe in Los Angeles. They seem to thrive on fresh ideas and new approaches to sharing the gospel message.
It is also helpful to know what Jews for Jesus does not stand for or practice. They do not live communally. However, because of their unique ministry and the opposition they face from both Jews and non-Jews, they tend to be tight-knit and closely resemble a family. They are not a cult. Members, employees and volunteers choose their own housing, make their own decisions, manage their own finances, raise their own children and are strongly encouraged by the organization to maintain close family ties. They are not hippies. This ministry got its start in the shadow of the counterculture, but they are not against traditional values. They are not in competition with other ministries that reach out to Jewish people. They consider other organizations and individuals as co-laborers for Jesus the Messiah.
Jews for Jesus maintains as a core conviction that a Jewish person does not lose his Jewish identity when he becomes a believer in Jesus the Messiah. Jews for Jesus believes in one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They believe that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the inspired Word of God. They believe that salvation for both Jew and Gentile is through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. They believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the prophesied Messiah. They believe that Jesus is co-equal with the Father and that He is both fully God and fully human. They believe that the Jewish people are in a covenant relationship with God and that God will accomplish His purpose through them. They also believe that the Church is under the New Covenant and composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers. In other words, their beliefs reflect historic Christian orthodoxy. Their heart’s desire is to share the gospel with their Jewish family, neighbors and friends.