Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is almost upon us. Following closely on the heels of Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Together these three festivals constitute the High Holidays on the Jewish calendar. These days are a time of introspection as individuals and as the Jewish people as a whole. We look back at our lives over the past year, consider where we are now, and look toward the future, both as individuals and as a community.
As a sub-community among the Jewish people, MJTI celebrates the High Holidays along with all of Israel. Thus, during this season we set aside a time of introspection and share with you as part of the extended MJTI community some of the wonderful milestones MJTI has experienced during this past year, where we are now, and our dreams for the future. I share them with you in hope that you too can catch our infectious excitement at what HaShem is doing at MJTI.
A Look Back: 2018–19 Highlights
The most recent event to mention is the debate between Rabbi Mark Kinzer and N.T. Wright on the “Meaning of Israel” that took place on September 11 at Samford University. Rabbi Mark Kinzer is a prominent Messianic Jewish theologian and the President Emeritus of MJTI, who continues to teach for us. N.T. Wright is a prolific author and a research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The two scholars addressed the place of non-Messianic Jews in God’s covenant. They debated the following two questions: Are non-messianic Jews members of God’s covenanted people? If so, do they as a people have a unique covenantal calling that distinguishes their calling from that of every other society or nation?” We are proud of Rabbi Mark and the profound influence he is making on the Yeshua-believing community. The debate itself can be viewed on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/qIBt64m-Py4. If you are interested in exploring the subject further or studying under Rabbi Mark, then MJTI classes and programs are the perfect place to come and grapple with these questions and more.
We are also proud of the first three graduates from the Master of Rabbinic Studies degree (2 finished this year and one last year). Graduation for these three Master of Rabbinic Studies students, plus one Master of Jewish Studies student, was held June 2 in Hartford, CT. The three Rabbinic Studies graduates have all received smicha (ordination) as Rabbis and are leading/co-leading Messianic Synagogues and Havurot (house congregations). The Jewish Studies student is involved in leadership in his congregation. Our graduates are making great contributions to their communities. MJTI is especially delighted that one of these three Rabbinic Studies students is a female and received official ordination as a Rabbi upon completion of the program. This milestone exemplifies one of MJTI’s strong points: we welcome Messianic Jewish males and females into our Rabbinic Studies Program.
The final milestone to mention is the remarkable rating our online Jewish Studies program received in August. MJTI was ranked 12th out of 40 online Master of Religious Studies Degree Programs. Often people do not realize that MJTI is a totally online school, but all of our classes are held online, through video chats, podcasts, or blog interactions. It is also important to note that every class, degree and certificate in the Jewish Studies program is open to both male and female Jewish and non-Jewish Yeshua-believers from a Jewish, Messianic Jewish, or Christian background.
Where We Are Now: Academic Year 2019-2020
The 2019–2020 school year begins right after Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) on Oct. 27. Though our student body has grown this year, the small student-to-teacher ratio per class remains intact, giving each student the opportunity to share their thoughts, make comments, and ask questions, allowing for a more personal, hands-on learning experience. We are pleased that students have already registered for classes through our two new programs (Mature Status student and the Certificate Tracks) that are designed to allow a broader spectrum of people to study at MJTI. Additionally, our Panim-El-Panim program (https://www.mjti.org/programs/panim-el-panim/) will have seven classes over the course of the academic year, one each month long from November to May—open to anyone!
A Look Toward the Future
Our dream for the future is to share with others what HaShem has entrusted to us. We are so excited about the things happening at MJTI that we can’t keep quiet. We want to shout it to the world, saying, “Come study with us! Come learn with us!” See how HaShem is developing a rich community that preserves the identity, uniqueness and importance of both Jewish and non-Jewish Yeshua-believers, male and female. I say this both as MJTI’s Academic Dean and as a former student who completed both the Master of Jewish Studies and the Master of Rabbinic Studies. These programs changed my life through the teachings I absorbed and through the relationships I formed during those years. They are priceless.
I hope this little bit of introspection has given you a glimpse into the heart and passion of MJTI. I wish you all Shana Tova u’metukah (a sweet and happy New Year) and pray that your thoughts on the future will include MJTI.
This article was written by MJTI Academic Dean Rabbi Dr. Vered Hillel. For more written by Rabbi Hillel, read her articles about the power of music on Yom Kippur, a good news flash, and the divine name “Adonai Echad.”
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