The so-called “Messianic rabbi” who appeared alongside Vice President Mike Pence during a campaign event after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was defrocked years ago by the organization that ordained him.
Loren Jacobs, who outraged many Jews by invoking Jesus Christ while praying with Pence at the Michigan rally, was stripped of his rabbinic ordination in 2003 after the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations found him guilty of libel, reported NBC News.
A spokeswoman for the organization did not say who Jacobs allegedly libeled, but his synagogue website indicates he was involved in a theological dispute with other leaders of his religious group, which believes Jesus is the son of God.
Jewish leaders said they could not understand why Republican congressional candidate Lena Epstein, a longtime member of a Reform Jewish synagogue in the Detroit area, invited Jacobs to her rally Tuesday because they don’t consider him to be a Jew.
“We don’t even recognize him as a rabbi,” said Rabbi Marla Hornsten, former president of the Michigan Board of Rabbis. “Even to call him a rabbi is offensive.”
Mainstream Judaism holds that the messiah has not yet arrived on earth.
“Judaism itself is a multi-denominational religion that encompasses multiple forms of expression and belief,” the Rabbinical Assembly, which represents the rabbis of the Conservative Movement, said in a statement. “Nonetheless, so-called ‘Messianic Judaism’ is not a Jewish movement, and the phrase ‘Jews for Jesus’ is a contradiction in terms, insofar as Judaism does not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.”
Hornstein said the GOP candidate didn’t reach out to anyone from the rabbinical organization, although she admitted members of the group do not participate in political campaigns and would have declined any invitation.
Epstein issued a tweet accusing those who criticized her and Pence of “religious intolerance,” but she did not explain why she invited Jacobs to deliver the prayer or even mention his name.
Statement on Jewish Faith and Religious Tolerance: pic.twitter.com/QUxYG3ZIh5
— Lena Epstein (@LenaEpstein) October 30, 2018