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For all those who are interested to learn how the nazarene movement of
James Trimm is founded on fraud an deception, below thorough and
excellent document written by Moshe Shulman, is a must read !
The purpose of this document is to review some of the claims that have
been made by and about James Trimm. I will discuss the factual aspects
of these claims (as far as I have been able to determine.) Three drafts
of this document have been sent to James, for comment, new details and
correction of factual details. He has sent to me a number of
comments. I have made changes based on these comments where
I will state my personal opinion about these issues. Also I will bring
the point of view of Halacha and Historical Judaism in general. There
have been many charges leveled at James that quite frankly at times
have crossed the point of what is reasonable. However, some are serious
and important and they need to be investigated. The following issues
seem to be the most important ones that have been raised:
1. That James Trimm is the leader in, and a member of the Bet Din
of, an organization called ‘Society for the Advancement of Nazarene
Judaism’ (SANJ) when in fact he is not Jewish at all.
The problems in this issue are two fold:
· How can a person who is not a Jew be a leader of an
organization that identifies itself with ‘Judaism’? How can a non-Jew
be a member of a ‘Bet Din’, which is a Jewish religious organization?
This seems to be a clear case of fraud and deception.
· The Torah explicitly teaches us that leaders of the Jewish
people are to be chosen only from the Jewish people: Exodus 18:25
says ‘And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads
over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of
fifties, and rulers of tens.’ Deuteronomy 17:15 states ‘You shall set
up a king over you, whom HaShem your G-d shall choose. From among your
brothers you shall set up a king over you: You may not set a stranger
over you, who is not your brother.’ It is clear that James is aware of
this point and it’s significance.
In response to some questions I left him in a phone message, I received
an email from James on September 5, 2000 where he claimed that he was
Jewish. After a number of emails had been sent to James asking specific
questions to clarify this issue, I received a phone call from him on
the afternoon of September 25, 2000. I asked about this issue, and he
stated that he never claimed to be Jewish and that he was not Jewish
according to Orthodox Halacha, but was according to Natzarim Halacha. I
inquired as to which ancestor(s) of his were Jewish, and was told that
on his father’s side (he was unclear as to how at the time) he was
descended from someone with the family name of ‘Weinert’,
which ‘sounded Jewish’. He also added that this family came from
Germany and physically looked ‘short and dark.’ He had no
documentation to verify that they were Jewish, as he claimed they were.
I then asked him as to the halachic definition of Jewish that he was
using. And he said that his personal view was that anyone ‘who would
not be here if Nimrod had killed Abraham was a Jew’. (He further
clarified that also there is the need that the person be descended from
the Patriarch Jacob.) It has never been clarified what was meant
by ‘according to Natzarim Halacha.’ I have yet to find any clear
statement on his website of what that means, and it would be
problematic for one to appear at this time that would ‘grandfather’ in
It is interesting to note that not long ago (Sept. 1999) there was a
controversy in SANJ over a member of their Bet Din who was not Jewish
and due to that controversy has severed his relationship with SANJ.
At that time they came out with a statement on conversion. I do not
believe that James has converted by his own bet din, if such a thing
would be possible or ethical.
I must conclude that James is not Jewish under any definition accepted
in Judaism. (With this I mean any legitimate recognized branch of
Judaism.) He fails the Hitler test for Jewish identity, or any
legitimate test for Jewish identification that I have seen. In fact,
most messianics would not consider him Jewish because of his parents
Due to his present set of beliefs it would not be possible for James to
undergo a valid conversion to Judaism. No conversion could be done
without involving outright fraud (which would render it invalid even
after the fact.) This means that no organization that is based on Torah
and Halacha can look to him as a leader, or representative. Nor can he
or what he says be looked upon as being ‘Jewish’, or be given the stamp
of ‘Judaism’ because of his membership. (I understand that there are
some questions about the ‘Jewish’ status of other leading members of
SANJ. It was not my purpose here to explore those issues.)
2. That James Trimm has been dishonest by claiming that he is
academically certified; and by using the title of ‘Dr.’, which implies
that he has been given a PhD in an accredited institution.
James uses the title of ‘Dr’ in his publications, and writings, which
gives the appearance that he is certified as academically qualified.
This appears to be used to make him appear to be a ‘professional’
scholar as opposed to an ‘amateur’ scholar.
The facts in this matter are as follows. James has received an STD from
a non-accredited school (which no longer exists.) There are two aspects
of this issue that need clarification:
· Is the program of this institution one that would be acceptable
in the academic world? I.e. would professional scholars look upon one
who completed this program as a fellow professional?
· Did this institution have the right to grant an academic degree?
As to the first issue, I have a copy of his transcript and diploma. The
diploma is dated July 6, 1995. The transcript is dated June 7,1995.
There are two interesting things about the transcript.
1. The name of the institution is misspelled!
2. There are a large number of classes listed, but no grades, or
overall GPA listed. (He does not appear to have had a high GPA since
there is no mention of honors on the diploma.)
There were a number of questions that I asked first via email on
September 5, 2000 (and which I sent to him again on a few occasions)
that could tell me about the type of program, and how academic it was.
I received no response to that inquiry. On September 25, 2000, during
our above-mentioned discussions, I asked him about his GPA, and he said
he couldn’t remember it. He said that the degree took 7 years to
complete. (That would mean he started in September 1988.) Although I
could not confirm that he was involved from that time, the amount of
time, 7 years, does appear consistent with the number of credits
claimed. He did not answer my question as to the amount of class time
needed per credit. He had said that he would call at a later date with
more information, but it did not come either by phone or email.
The most important points still needed to evaluate the program are:
1. What undergraduate degrees did he need to have in order to get
into the graduate program? (I know that James received his GED in
2. The nature of the courses and how often he needed to interact
with his professor(s.)
As to the second point: Is this institution authorized to give an
academic degree, the head of the Church, of which this school was a
Subject: RE: doctorate
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 15:11:45 -0600
From: "Webmaster" <***@***.org>
To: "purnhrt" <***@***.net>
Mr. Trimm has contacted me and stated that he received the degree he
cites from a seminary run by someone who is no longer a bishop of our
Church. It is completely proper for a bishop to conduct a seminary to
prepare candidates for ministry within CACINA for his own diocese.
It is also legal in a civil sense to do so. However, there was no
national seminary for CACINA in the period in question, and any
action taken by the bishop was done on his own recognizance.
The claims made regarding that seminary, that it was authorized under
CACINA's Canons are, to a degree, correct, in that the bishop was
authorized to conduct training for his clergy candidates. He was not
authorized to offer academic degrees in the absence of appropriate
licensing by the secular government.
Only the secular government can authorize an educational institution
to grant academic degrees, such as a doctorate in an academic
discipline. Seminaries must be licensed by the state to offer a
degree, but do not need licensing to merely train clergy candidates.
If the former bishop claimed that CACINA authorized, by its canons,
that he grant academic degrees, he was wrong. None of our Canons
authorize that act. Neither do they forbid it. Rather, the local
bishop conducting training for his clergy, if he wants to offer
academic standing for that training, must seek licensing from the
secular government.Any degree awarded would be, of its very nature,
honorary since it lacked license to be issued.
This would indicate that the institution was not allowed to give
academic degrees according to the elders of the church itself since it
was not licensed. (I will discuss the constitutional issue that has
been raised in the next section, as it applies more there then here.)
This would mean that his STD was at best a non-academic degree, of
In a private communication to "purnhrt" (I have the email, but I am not
placing it here where it can be in public view, due to the request by
the author that he not be involved) Dr. X, who is a personal friend of
James, commented that irregardless of James’ personal level of
knowledge, this school cannot be considered a ‘bone fide academic
institution’ and ‘his use of the title Dr. is not appropriate.’ In
fact, in a second message forwarded to me by James, this scholar again
says that James should not be using the title ‘Dr’.
I think that it is clear that James should not be using the title
of ‘Dr’, and that recognized scholars would not be comfortable with it.
James’ capacity as an amateur scholar stands or falls on the quality of
his research and results of that and not on any ‘academic training’ or
titles he claims.
3. That James Trimm has been dishonest in the establishment of
a ‘Yeshiva’ that is giving degrees contrary to law.
With regards to the issue of the ‘yeshiva’ there are two issues:
· Using the title of ‘yeshiva’ for his institution.
· Whether it can give academic degrees that are legal or of value.
As to the question of whether it is proper to call the institution
a ‘yeshiva’, a look at the list of courses given there are not those
that are the norm in any yeshiva in any historical period. (Even in the
more ‘modern’ ones which resemble colleges, rather then
the ‘traditional’ yeshiva.) The names of the courses are what one
finds in your average Bible College, only they have been camouflaged
with Jewish sounding names. They also have added some ‘Jewish’ sounding
courses that have no relationship to Yeshiva training but would be
needed in a school geared to Jewish evangelism.
To conclude point 1, a yeshiva is NOT a Bible College. I think that an
institution that has a course of study similar to a Bible College
should be called a ‘Bible College’ and not a ‘yeshiva’. James is not
the only one who has established a Bible College and fraudulently
called it a yeshiva. He is guilty of doing what other fake ‘yeshivas’
of the messianic movement have done. More serious is that a non-Jew is
running a ‘Jewish Yeshiva’, which is bizarre and clearly not ethical.
With regards to the second question, James maintains that
constitutionally he can set up any academic program he wants as long as
it is under religious auspices, even if the law would say otherwise.
This argument is on very shaky legal grounds. True he might have a
right to teach students anything he wants, and solicit money for that,
but the state does have an interest in certain educational standards,
and they do routinely certify religious institutions to insure academic
quality. (The large number of accredited religious colleges is the best
proof of this.) They also certify degree programs to insure that a
degree has a meaning.
I have looked at the types of ‘degrees’ that James is giving and they
appear to have been changed recently so that they do not appear to be
academic in nature at all. They are just diplomas of achievement. This
would mean that they are probably within the bounds of what is legal.
(From the above letter of Bishop Kelly it seems clear that a religious
institution can train and grant certificates for it’s own clergy and
members. This would have no academic validity.) It would appear that
James has address the legal problems that his institution had.
The validity of the S’mikhah, or Certificate of Rabbinate that he
offers is based his authority and on the authority of SANJ to issue
this. (Which being an organization unrelated to the Jewish community,
and Historical/Rabbinic Judaism is non-existent.) Again a non-Jew
certifying someone with S’mikhah is something that is clearly not valid
4. That James Trimm acted improperly by appearing on various email
forums under various names including Rabbi Yosef. This ‘Rabbi’ Yosef
claimed to have real rabbinic training. That when doing so he
represented himself as having beliefs other then those he truly holds.
There is no doubt as to whether James appeared in the said forums
as ‘Rabbi’ Yosef, since he has already admitted that. I think the
following comment by Bill and Jo Kuhlmeyer has validity to it with
regards to this point, and also the previous ones:
‘On the other hand, we see James Trimm's posts as Rabbi Yosef as
indicative of a greater problem within the Messianic community in
feeling that they have to achieve some sort of recognition for a
personal body of knowledge so as to achieve a degree
It also appears that he did write in a way to make people think he
believed the Book Of Mormon. I think it is certain that he does not
believe that the BOM is true. Whether this method was
counterproductive, dangerous or just stupid is not a judgment that I
wish to make. There are certainly halachic problems with this since
this would violate the injunction of ‘Not placing a stumbling block
before the blind.’ He could have actually convinced some people that
the BOM was valid, or that the BOM had made valid points. I believe
that using a false name(s) in order to spread disinformation is not
acceptable. Had he wished for information for his research, there are
better ways to gain it that are more acceptable both according to
Halacha and morality. He certainly had no need to make his own forums
to gain information.
What is somewhat bothering about this issue is that James seemed to
have made denials for a while, until he eventually owned up to the
situation. The changing in the types of diplomas given at his ‘yeshiva’
is another example of this. Confronted with error he first denies it,
and then changes, without acknowledging that anything he had done in
the past had been wrong. This appears to be a personal character fault.
I suppose that Clintonitus is contagious.
© Moshe Shulman October 2000
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