Monthly Archives: September 2013

The MJAA Doesn’t Know if It’s Coming or Going

Next month, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America will hold a regional conference in Grapevine, Texas (a small suburb of Fort Worth). Here’s a screenshot of part of the conference webpage:

MJAA incompetence

Unsurprisingly, the MJAA managed to grossly screw up one of the three Hebrew words it used. Surprisingly, though, the MJAA managed to screw up the English as well.

The cited verse, Isaiah 59:20, states that “a redeemer will come to Zion.” The excerpt on the website, though, is part of Romans 11:26 stating that the deliverer will come from Zion. In other words, the MJAA not only cited the wrong Bible verse, but also cited a verse with a contradictory meaning.

But hey, at least last year’s merchandise tables appear to have been fully stocked!

“Cantor Peter Gordon” is a Convicted Brothel Operator

While many of my posts mock people in the Messianic movement, this one is dead serious.

MJTI (Messianic Jewish Theological Institute) recently began offering a two-year cantorial arts program. For $8400 plus a required internship and various administrative fees, you too can learn how to read Torah and perform other basic liturgical functions in the Messianic movement.

Let’s put aside the fact that the program is a blatant ripoff for now. Instead, let’s focus on Cantor Peter Gordon, one of the two instructors in the program. According to his biography:

Cantor Peter Gordon… has served Reform, Conservative, Reconstruction, and Traditional congregations throughout the United States. He came to faith and started serving Messianic Judaism as an adult and has served congregations in Las Vegas, Nevada and currently at Beth Emunah in Agoura Hills, California.

This is a surprising background for someone in the Messianic movement, no? Why did someone who sounds very involved with Judaism end up adopting Jesus as his savior?

Answer: Cantor Peter Gordon, formerly known as Cantor Joel Gordon, left organized Judaism in disgrace after he and his wife Alison Ginsberg pleaded guilty to running a prostitution ring in 2001.

The Awareness Center, a volunteer organization dedicated to fighting sexual abuse in Jewish communities, has collected a series of newspaper articles about Peter/Joel Gordon with all the grim details and photographic evidence that the two Gordons are in fact the same person. Oh, and Gordon worked with a couple Christian congregations in Nevada using the name “Peter Andrews” around 2010.

(For the record, a quick online search for some of the article headlines and for “Cantor Peter Gordon” confirms that the information on the site is correct.)

The articles collected at the Awareness Center further reveal that Gordon served “congregations throughout the United States” because he kept having to leave them—and this was well before the brothel allegations. For example:

At Temple Sinai in Atlanta, Rabbi Phil Kranz said of Gordon, “We knew there was a problem. He was given a few hours to pack and be out and he left in the dark of night.”

Given Peter/Joel Gordon’s history, I strongly suspect that he became a “Messianic Jew” simply because he needed a new group of people to exploit. And his super-brief incarnation as the openly Christian “Peter Andrews” raises additional questions.

If you are involved in the Messianic movement (especially with Beth Emunah or with MJTI), please be extremely careful in your interactions with Peter/Joel Gordon; don’t let his musical abilities lull you into complacency. And please do not hesitate to contact the proper authorities, including law enforcement, if something illegal or suspicious occurs. Whatever my feelings are about your movement, I sincerely do not want to see any of you exploited.

Object-ionable Markers

I abandoned this website last year after becoming occupied with other matters—among them, working on online material for a real Jewish organization. Unfortunately, I’ve recently encountered far too much Messianic Jewish/Hebraic Roots/Nazerene silliness, both online and offline, which inspired me to update the site again. Updating right before Yom Kippur is not the best time, admittedly, but better now than never.

The full name of the so-called Hebraic Roots “synagogue” in this video is Messianic Voice Ministries את-Bnai Israel, which again shows that people who have no idea how Hebrew grammar works have no business naming these organizations. In this context, “את” is merely an object marker with no meaning on its own,[*] yet this group appears to have made it a central part of their identity.

Even better, the person leading services has the non-word “את” on the front of his cap. The closest parallel in English I can think of would be a Japanese teenager—one who didn’t speak English, obviously—wearing a shirt with just a semicolon and expecting it to make sense to others.

As for the service, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a group of people who don’t realize that “את” has no meaning on its own. I do like the hanging picture they have, though, of Jesus apparently giving the Vulcan salute (47:30).

G’mar chatima tova, and may everyone have an easy fast.

[*] “את” can also mean “you (feminine)”, of course. Or “spade.” So you can say that I’m calling a spade a, uh… never mind. I thought I had a good joke there, but didn’t.

Edit: Thanks to Michael Miller for pointing out that there’s more to the “את” thing than meets the eye. Apparently, there’s a popular idea in Messianic circles that it’s a reference to the alpha and the omega in the New Testament. The idea is still nonsense, but it does explain why this congregation is so fond of “את”.