B'nai Yeshua, a new house of worship, will hold its first Sabbath today in
the heart of Jewish Miami Beach.
That might not be unusual except for whom the group worships: Jesus Christ.
B'nai Yeshua is a ``messianic Jewish'' synagogue, worshiping Jewish style
but preaching Jesus as the Messiah.
And its rabbinic neighbors are treating it like an infection.
``They stood in front of my synagogue, handing out fliers and inviting
people to their services,'' said Rabbi Eliot Pearlson of nearby Temple
Menorah. ``That's real chutzpah. An effrontery and an insult.''
Moshe Koniuchowsky, spiritual leader at B'nai Yeshua, isn't deterred.
``God has put us in the heart of the third-largest Jewish population within
the United States,'' he said on Friday, just before all-day celebrations
today at B'nai Yeshua's new home, 7801 Carlyle Ave.
The dedication ceremony will start at 11 a.m., with a guest speech by Bob
Cohen of Jacksonville, president of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of
America. After a 2 p.m. covered-dish luncheon, the congregation will sponsor
a 7 p.m. concert with messianic singer John Rose of Philadelphia.
Some 200 are expected to attend from four or five area messianic
congregational leaders, Koniuchowsky said.
Koniuchowsky, who renamed himself Moshe from Marshall, founded his
congregation in Hollywood as Messiah is God Fellowship. He decided to move
its 40 members to Miami Beach in November, after an invitation by a
Brazilian pastor in the Assemblies of God denomination.
The two congregations are housed in an Orthodox synagogue that folded when
its rabbi emigrated to Israel several years ago. Pearlson learned of B'nai
Yeshua six weeks ago, when an upset member of his Conservative temple
brought him a flier she found under her condominium door. He wrote a
counter-flier and asked her to pass it out to the Jewish residents at the
The rabbi followed up with letters to four rabbis within a three-mile
radius. The rabbis are discussing what to do; but he said the response
probably will include ``educating the elderly, and the youth _ the obvious
The other measure, Pearlson said, will be confrontation _ which might well
include picketing and facing down street evangelists. ``I intend to do
whatever is necessary to ensure that the true Jewish community is properly
informed of the misrepresentation of this church,'' he said.
Another Jewish group, Torah Life and Living of North Miami Beach, picketed
messianic play, Rabboni, on Miami Beach in 1994. But the group's leaders
said on Friday they will ignore the B'nai Yeshua dedication today.
The difference is that the play's promoters did more mass-media advertising,
said Aaron Schwartzbaum, executive director of the group.
``It's a free country; they have the right to exist,'' he said of B'nai
Yeshua. ``But Jews should check in here before they buy that baloney. We are
the live Jews. They are the pretenders.''
Publication Date: Saturday, May 16, 1998