Mishegas, Religion

iTunes Evangalism

As long as I’ve used StumbleUpon, I’ve spent the bulk of my time stumbling the Judaism section. For the first few months, all was fine, but then I started noticing Hebrew Christian (self-identified as Messianic Judaism) pages amid the legitimately Jewish sites. I flagged these pages as being in the wrong category, and when asked to label correctly, I usually chose Christianity, as there was no Messianic Judaism option. I didn’t get particularly bent out of shape, as the mechanism for alerting the good people at StumbleUpon was easy to access and use. However, lately I’ve seen this problem elsewhere, in more popular software with less transparent labeling systems – namely, iTunes.
Yesterday, as I was poking around for Jewish podcasts for my ride to visit my parents, I noticed that not only were there messianic podcasts in the Judaism section, but also that messianic podcasts were climbing the list of most popular Jewish podcasts. As soon as I realized this was happening, I began to examine podcasts a bit more carefully before I chose to download and listen – for instance, what other podcasts were popular with listeners of a particular podcast? In doing so I seem to have thus far avoided podcast evangelism. But I worry.
I worry that the teens whose Jewish experience I am charged with stewarding (and all the rest of them) will accidentally fall prey to these messianists, and as I’ve now noticed this disturbing labeling trend in two different online categorization systems, I wonder if there are specific actions to be taken in the web realm. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t seem to be a problem on Jews for Judaism‘s (the leading anti-missionary Jewish organization) radar. Do we think Hebrew Christianity should have its own category? Who gets to decide what the correct label for such a category would be (in my mind, one without the word Judaism)?  What do we do?

11 thoughts on “iTunes Evangalism

  1. Israel now has a significant population of Christians, including Arabs, Armenians, Circessians, Ethiopians, foriegn workers, legal Russians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Fillipino, spouses of Israeli Jews, and converts.
    This group is becoming largely Hebrew speaking, and integrates more and more with Israeli society.
    What term shall we use for them – Israeli Christians? I look foward to living in an Israel that is more religiously diverse and open. Perhaps they will serve as good allies in granting complete and total equality for modern liberal Jewish denominations….

  2. Hey LastTrumpet,
    Good questions. For what it’s worth, I ran “Messianic Christianity,” “Messianic Judaism,” “Hebrew Christianity,” and “Jews for Jesus” through the Library of Congress Authorities page (Library of Congress Subject Headings are the organizing principle behind nearly all academic libraries in the United States and the national libraries of a significant number of countries throughout the world – if you want to check it out it’s authorities.loc.gov) and checked out the holdings in the library of the Catholic university where I am employed. It looks like LCSH does not use “Messianic Christianity” and uses “Messianic Judaism” to refer to the Jews for Jesus crowd. The heading “Jewish Messianic Movements” refers to Jews who write about the coming of Mosiach. There’s also the heading “Jewish Christians,” which also refers to the JforJ people. In short, one of the most influential classification organizations on the planet does keep things nice and straight, but they don’t seem to be able to do it without using the wod “Jewish.” Is there any sort of authority to which you could voice your complaints at StumbleUpon or iTunes? Suggesting these LC subject headings might be a fruitful thing to do. Or is there any way you could tag these sites/podcasts with your own descriptors? You’ve pointed out a big problem with tagging – it’s a great idea, but without scope notes (i.e. – a description of what particular terms should refer to when used), you’ll start seeing abuse/errors like these.
    Thanks for giving a bored librarian something to play with this morning.
    Live from the Reference Desk,

  3. Hebrew Christian does not refer to non-jewish israelis, it refers to various Christians in the Hebrew Roots movement, many of them posing as Jews, some Christian evangelizing efforts targeting Jews and that whole confused smorgasboard.
    Clearly Christian themed podcasts and music belong in the Christian category, but the whole point of Jews for Jesus and Messianic Judaism and the various other deceptively named organizations is to blur the lines and to pass themselves off as Jews.
    Remember this is the whole point of Christianity from the getgo, replacement theology. Creating groups that take over Jewish categories is just another form of ‘replacing’ us with Christianity dressed up as Judaism. If we don’t buy the Christianity, they’ll try to sell us on Christianity wearing a magen david and lighting a menora and hope some Jews are foolish enough to fall for it.
    This is obviously a problem all over beginning with Google, what happens when you google Jews, you get Jews for Jesus, Jews for Allah (Jews for Manson probably coming soon)
    The way to fight this is to insist on accurate categories and true names and defy the blurring.

  4. When I first saw this post, I thought it was going to mention something else that sticks in my proverbial craw — the fact that a lot of software recognizes my Jewish mp3s as “Gospel/Religious” or even “Christian/Religious!”
    But as for the other question — I don’t think we really need to _do_ anything, in terms of the teens and such. We kind of just have to educate them properly, make them aware of the pseudo-Jews out there, and hope they’re well grounded.
    If you’ve raised a good monotheist, I don’t see how any form of Xtian message is going to seem like a logical extension of the Judaism they know.

  5. Im not sure what the problem is. If you dont want to listen to those podcasts, dont, but if they want to identify as jews, kol hakavod, so to speak. Personally, I dont like listening to charadi or religious zionist podcasts, but they can call themselves whatever they like. As for the kids you teach, they will find their own path. If your judaism is sufficiently meaningful, they will stick around. If its not, they will find other paths, Jewish, non-Jewish, or messianic-Jewish. Not much you can do other than hope the find the meaning they are looking for.

  6. The problem is those podcasts misidentify themselves as Jewish when they’re Christian. Same problem when anyone deliberately misrepresents themselves as something they’re not.

  7. Personally I have a hard time believing in much of anything, so I’m not trying to defend “Hebrew Christianity” as you call it. I just think it’s somewhat incongruous for a site that generally seems to be accepting of “alternative” religious views to argue that one factor (belief in Jesus as messiah) disqualifies a particular sect as “Jewish.”
    If there were some Hebrew Christian sect that were totally observant of Halacha in your view of it, would it’s belief in Jesus disqualify it as Jewish? Why? How is this different from belief in the Rebbe as messiah?

  8. Sultan Knish – that’s not an argument at all. You just threw out your own definition of Judaism as the negation of Christianity and expected everyone’s agreement. If you ask me, a Judaism that’s solely defined by not believing in Jesus is a pretty lame religion. But hey, if that’s what keeps you feeling religiously superior, good for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.