Noahides seen as useful allies for Zionists

The global growth of the Noahide movement, which consists of ex-Christians seeking to follow Jewish law and monotheism, has come to the attention of Jewish leaders who are trying to build support for world Zionism, but there are sharply differing views on how Jewish these new believers can be, writes Rachel Z. Feldman in the journal Nova Religio (22:1). The Noahide movement has grown to “tens of thousands” worldwide, as ex-Christians encounter forms of Jewish learning online. The movement has gained currency especially among those attracted to Judaism in the developing world who lack the resources and access to formally convert to the religion. Feldman focuses on the 2,000-member community in the Philippines and how Noahides have been “adopted” by Jewish leaders even as they counsel members that they cannot become Jewish and devise new rituals, which carry a strong Zionist thrust. In the Philippines, as elsewhere, Noahide believers consist of “evangelicals” who usually travel through messianic Judaism or a group known as the Sacred Name Believers, which started in the U.S. and consists of Sabbath-keeping churches searching for the Hebrew roots of Christianity.

The Noahides tend to establish “synagogues,” where they practice Jewish rituals based around observing the “seven laws” established by Noah (upholding ethical monotheism), such as holding a “seven blessings” service to honor the Sabbath (even if they cannot bless and fully observe the Sabbath in the way that ethnic Jews do). The belief that Jews are a “racially superior people with an innate physiological ability to access divinity” is common among Noahides, but this distinction serves to create a two-tier system that will keep the movement a separate religion from Judaism, according to Feldman. In the Philippines, Chabad (the outreach arm of a Hasidic Jewish group) serves as the Noahides’ mentors, and they draw a sharp distinction between Noahides and ethnic Jews, but in other countries such mentoring could come from another network of rabbis who might allow more Jewish practices to be adopted. But the majority of these Jewish advisors “are active members, or at least ideological supporters” of the Third Temple movement in Israel, which is attempting to rebuild the Third Jewish Temple, reestablish the Jewish priesthood and lay the foundation for a fully theocratic state, and which sees Noahides as valuable allies. Since 2011, this movement has “grown significantly, gaining support from the Israeli religious-nationalist demographic and Israeli lawmakers, as well as international Christian and Noahide communities,” Feldman adds.

(Nova Religio,