Inside the small community of Christ-following Jews who've allied with American evangelicals to redeem Israel ... from its Jewishness.
Asher Intrater is playing Jewish geography with me. "Are you related to Max Posner of the delicatessen business?" he asks, referring to a long-defunct establishment in Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live and where Intrater grew up and lived until he moved to Israel with his wife and four children 20 years ago. (My grandfather's name actually was Max Posner, but he didn't live in Maryland or own a delicatessen.)
"Our family was friends with his family," Intrater adds, in a moment of nostalgia for his Jewish childhood on a blazing hot July day in Yad Hashmonah, a commune about 20 minutes northwest of Jerusalem. We've just crossed a stone path outside the building where the staff of his organization, Revive Israel, has held its daily morning prayer service.
After New Testament readings, and as the band plays songs about Jesus's return, Intrater stepped across the circle of worshippers to tell me of a "miracle:" that everyone on his ministry team, save one, was an Israeli citizen. He seems to want to convince me -- not just as a reporter, but as a Jewish one -- that Messianic Jews like him represents the genuine Judaism, an authentic Israeli-ness that must be recaptured in order for Israel to be "restored." For that to happen, its wayward people must literally come to Jesus, a process he and his followers believe will lay the groundwork for the Messiah -- the one Israel, he insists, failed to recognize the first time -- to return.