|Ask Rabbi Simmons|
Why am I not finding any information or acknowledgement of Messianic Jews? Is it not true that one who is born a Jew can in no way forfeit that identity as a Jew no matter what he/she believes. Don't they deserve some recognition? Question: Is a Jew still consider Jewish if he/she follows the teaching of Buddha?
The Jewish people do say that there's "More than one way to be a good Jew." We have Chassidic vs. Misnagdic, Sefardic vs. Ashkenazic, and even the Talmudic split between Shammai and Hillel.
Yet there are limits to pluralism, beyond which a group is schismatic to the point where it is no longer considered Jewish. For example, everyone considers Messianic Judaism and belief in Buddah as outside of the Jewish sphere.
Historically, any Jewish group which denied the basic principles of Jewish tradition -- Torah and Mitzvah-observance -- ultimately ceased to be part of the Jewish people. The Saducees and the Karites, for instance, refused to accept certain parts of the Oral Law, and soon after broke away completely as part of the Jewish People. The Hellenists, secularists during the Second Temple period, also soon became regarded as no longer "Jewish." Eventually, these groups vanished completely.
Early Christians were the original "Jews for Jesus." They accepted the Divine revelation of the Torah, but not it's eternal, binding nature. Initially, these Jewish "reformers" were reliable in their Kashrut, and counted in a Minyan. But the turning point came when Paul, realizing that Jews wouldn't accept the concept of a dead Messiah, opened up membership to non-Jews. At that point, these "Jews" experienced a total severing of Jewish identity.
I suggest you read, "You Take Jesus, I'll Take G-d," or "The Real Messiah" -- both available in any Jewish bookstore or www.eichlers.com. These books will explain why Jewish great- great-great... grandparents who lived at the time of Jesus and who knew Jesus refused to accept him.
It will also explain why all Jewish ancestors continued to refuse to accept him -- even at the point of death, whether it was death by being thrown to the lions, or burned at the stake in the Inquisition, or death by pogrom.
Though you are correct, that conversion to another religion is ineffective. According to Jewish law, a person is always Jewish - regardless of whether they reject their heritage, ignore it, or practice another religion. In the book of Joshua 7:11, G-d declares that "Israel has sinned" due to a severe transgression done by the nation. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 44a) explains: Even though Israel has sinned, God still calls they by the name 'Israel.' In other words, they are still considered Jews. And that is how we know that a Jew is always a Jew no matter what.With blessings from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Shraga Simmons