Zera Avraham is Hebrew for
"Seed of Abraham." We are a Jewish congregation, a
synagogue, that honors
Yeshua (Jesus) as
Who Is Zera Avraham?
What is Messianic Judaism?
Among Jewish people today there are various denominations or forms of Jewish faith. These include Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and others. In recent years another kind of Judaism has emerged. It is called Messianic Judaism. Like the others, it is a way of expressing love for and obedience to the God of Israel. And again, like other forms, Messianic Judaism has its own unique quality. Our distinctive mark is our conviction that Jesus, whom we call by his Hebrew name, Yeshua, is the long-awaited Messiah. Like all other forms of Judaism, we seek to live in ways which resonate with our Jewish past and present.
But our Messiah takes center-stage as we seek to live as faithful Jews. The centrality of Messiah Yeshua puts us in profound spiritual unity with people in another world-wide community – the Christian Church. Though we practice our faith differently, we have deep appreciation for the Church. Our primary sense of identity lies with the Jewish people. But, we share a deep bond with all who see Yeshua as the ultimate answer to the great questions of life.
Messianic Judaism is new in one sense, but very old in another. After all Yeshua was Jewish. All his earliest followers were as well. The New Testament was written by Jewish people and the First Century Jesus movement was a Jewish affair. So, in a sense, Messianic Judaism is the re-emergence of one of the many kinds of Judaism practiced 2,000 years ago!
We are a Jewish congregation, a synagogue, that honors Yeshua (Jesus) as Israel's Messiah. As a Jewish communal body, Congregation Zera Avraham especially welcomes Jewish people and interfaith couples and their families to share in our congregational life. And, just as Yeshua's first disciples were faithful Jews loyal to their people and committed to the Jewish way of life, so we seek to honor Yeshua as faithful Jews today.
We esteem Jewish tradition highly, and find within it the veiled presence of the resurrected Rabbi from Nazareth, whose life is forever bound to that of his people. We are also committed to Jewish continuity, believing that the Most High has entered into an irrevocable covenant with the Jewish people that forever connects the Divine Name to the people of the covenant.
We aspire to live in such a way that the wider Jewish community can recognize and honor its own mysterious bond with the resurrected Rabbi from Nazareth. We also aim to strengthen Jewish identity among those whose Jewish affiliation has become tenuous, so that they, their children, and their grandchildren may fulfill their destiny as members of the people of the covenant.
We are grateful for the multitude of non-Jews who have come to know and worship the God of Israel through the Christian Churches, and especially for those among them who have learned to appreciate the ongoing significance of the Jewish people and its tradition. We seek to be a corporate bridge for them, so that their relationship to the people of Israel might be actualized practically through their relationship with us.
How Did We Begin?
During the 1970s and '80s a group of Messianic Jews in Washtenaw County met periodically to celebrate the Sabbath and the annual Jewish Holidays. In 1993 this group formally established Congregation Zera Avraham - Ann Arbor's first Messianic Jewish synagogue. Our 20th Anniversary was quite a party.
In 1996 Congregation Zera Avraham became a member of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), the oldest association of congregations in the Messianic Jewish movement.
In 1997 the rabbi of Congregation Zera Avraham, Dr. Mark Kinzer, joined with several other Messianic Jewish leaders to form Hashivenu, an organization aimed at helping the Messianic Jewish movement mature as an authentic expression of Jewish communal life. Since 1997 Congregation Zera Avraham has supported the vision of Hashivenu, and sought to embody that vision in its daily life.
In 2001, Rabbi Dr Mark Kinzer began working with other members of the Hashivenu group on establishing a common set of halakhic standards for themselves and their congregations. In May of 2006, this group formally established the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council. The MJRC consists of Rabbis and associates who promote a life of faithfulness to God's covenant among Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua by providing realistic and practical guidelines for Messianic Jewish observance.