A Welcome Message from Messianic Rabbi Joel Liberman

Shalom and welcome to Tree of Life…

Thank you for considering attending our Shabbat worship service. We hope your visit with us will be a very positive and memorable experience. We are sure you have dozens of questions. Our loving community will do their best to answer them.

We would like to help you feel more comfortable and at home in our kehillah (congregation), therefore, we are providing you with some common courtesy and Messianic Jewish etiquette that will aid you in this process.

As a Messianic Jewish congregation, we celebrate Messiah and the Judaism He represented, where the principles of Torah are observed from the heart and not merely from the head. house of prayer for all people.” At Tree of Life, we are a congregation with no second-class citizens!

Our Shabbat services start promptly at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. We feel that the worship of our God is the number one priority in our lives, therefore, we endeavor to set aside this time each week, dressing appropriately, to worship Him as a community. However, if you should arrive after we begin, please take a seat in the rear of the room so that you do not disrupt the flow of Worship. Additionally, should you arrive during the liturgical portion of Worship, please wait inside the back door until the Worship team begins to play music again.

In our services, we combine traditional Jewish liturgy with a mix of Scripturally-based, contemporary Jewish music that helps lead people into an enhanced worship experience. Often referred to as Davidic-style worship and praise (as popularized by King David), we also include group dance as a meaningful joyous expression of our love for the Lord. These and other jubilant manifestations, such as clapping (Psalm 47:1) and lifting our hands in surrender to Adonai (Psalm 63:5), are all a part of good old fashion Jewish celebrative praise (Psalm 150). Since we want all our visitors to enjoy their time with us, we encourage everyone to either learn the group dances and join in, or vicariously enjoy the presence of the Lord as others dance together before Him. Please keep in mind, that while we do appreciate individual freedom of expression, during the service our overall desire is to cultivate an atmosphere in which everyone can enter into worship without distraction. (Dance classes are offered periodically at the conclusion of our service)

You will notice that a portion of our service is done in Hebrew. This is the language of our people, and the original language of the Bible. If you are a newcomer to this, don’t be alarmed! You don’t have to be a Hebrew scholar to worship with us. But if you listen carefully, you will find that almost everything in Hebrew is immediately repeated in English, or provided in a translated form on our projection system. When Hebrew is shown on the screen, an English transliteration is also provided for those who have not yet begun to learn Hebrew.

A custom you may already be familiar with is that of men wearing tallit (a fringed prayer shawl) during our Saturday morning and High Holy Day services. The Biblical reference for “fringes” is found in B’midbar (Numbers 15:37-41), where Adonai uses it as a focal point to remind His people to obey Him, and not to follow our own impulses which could lead us astray. It also represents God’s desire to have the royal thread of His presence interwoven throughout every fiber of our lives.                                                                                                               

Although there is no biblical reference to today’s kipa or yarmulke (skullcap) worn by Jewish men, there are references to head coverings being worn by the Cohanim (Levitical Priesthood). Traditionally though, the kipa represents a deep desire to humbly submit ourselves to the headship of Adonai. It has been a symbol of Jewish identity for at least the past several hundred years, and serves as an outward sign of respect for the house of God.

We see a model within Scripture that conveys clearly to Messianic Jews an incumbency to carry Jewish tradition forward (Matt. 23:23b, Acts 21:18-24; 28:17, etc.); yet, we are to be discerning concerning halakha erroneous in either letter or spirit (Mark 7:5ff, Matt. 12:1ff; 23:2-3ff). This incumbency is not laid by Scripture upon non-Jewish believers (Acts 21:25). (Please see the Messianic Rabbi with any questions you may have in this area.)

Other Items of Etiquette

The Shema is one of the most holy of Jewish prayers and we request that all who attend our services show respect for this and other parts of liturgy by standing.

We request that parents be in control of their children at all times.

We realize that we are meeting in the sanctuary of a church, however, we feel that the front of the room in which we worship should be treated with the same respect as the Bema in a Synagogue. Please do not allow your children to play or run in the front area of the room where the worship team and Messianic Rabbi minister. This includes during fellowship time after services.

Why we don’t refer to ourselves as “Christians”

While we enjoy fellowship and solidarity with everyone who truly knows and loves the Messiah, Yeshua, we are a Jewish congregation, and one with our Jewish People. We do not celebrate Christian holidays, but observe the Jewish ones from a traditional and Messianic perspective. Even the word “Christian,” though a very endearing title to many, has been used in so many different ways, that it simply does not effectively define who we are as Jewish followers of Yeshua. Within the “Church world,” the ambiguity of this term is underscored by how often people add a prefix (like true, real, born-again, Spirit-filled, and Bible believing) to the word “Christian,” in an attempt to more accurately clarify what they mean. In true communication, it is important to use terms that clearly express what you honestly mean to say, rather than rely on popular catch-phrases and labels that seem easier to use, but that listeners may define differently than what you think you are conveying.

Terms like Christ, Christian, unsaved Jew, convert, baptize, trinity and cross conjure up in most Jewish minds images of pogroms, inquisitions, crusades, holocaust, assimilation, or spiritual genocide. It often leaves our Jewish people with a distorted view of who Yeshua really is, and presents Him as some sort of alien, pagan mythological deity. These terms are not a part of our vocabulary. We are an authentic Jewish community that sets the record straight concerning the Jewish Messiah. We do not use terminology as “witnessing tools,” but as an honest expression of our walk with God within the framework of a genuine Jewish life-style. It helps define exactly who we are, and clearly articulates what we believe about the Messiah, Yeshua. We present the message and person of Yeshua within a Torah-based model established by God and confirmed in all Yeshua taught and did.

Ha Yesod (The Foundation)

Our Statement of Faith is included in our Congregational brochure which you may pick up on our literature table.

We are so glad you have taken an interest in our Congregation, and appreciate your time, prayers and feedback. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to speak with us either in person, by e-mail, snail-mail, or by phone. We eagerly look forward to getting to know you better.