RABBI BARRY RUBIN
Barry Rubin did not plan to be leader of a Messianic congregation. But in August, 1981, he did agree to "cover" for the interim leader of Baltimore’s Emmanuel Presbyterian Hebrew-Christian Congregation who was going on vacation for two weeks. He never returned. Rabbi Barry is still "filling in."
There have been a lot of changes since the summer of 1981, including the name of the congregation—it is now "Emmanuel Messianic Jewish Congregation." Services are held on Saturday (the Shabbat) instead of Sunday. There is also a Torah service every Shabbat. But these were gradual changes, and often involved what Rabbi Rubin calls "two steps forward and one step back."
Rabbi Rubin likes to say he spent his formative month in the Bronx, New York, before moving to Maryland with his family right after World War II. Barry grew up in Bethesda, the son of a CPA. But, like many young men, was unsure of following in his dad's professional footsteps. Instead he went off to Ohio University for a degree in communications. After obtaining both a BA and a MA in Communications he spent three years teaching at Howard University, and later at Catonsville Community College. In all fairness to Dad, though, he also did some accounting on the side, also becoming a CPA. But then he met his Messiah, and the direction of his life drastically changed.
Barry's introduction to Yeshua began when he was invited to a Hebrew-Christian Rosh Hashanah service in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 1972. That service raised questions in his mind, and he began to meet with an orthodox rabbi to discuss Daniel 9 and Isaiah 53. But those meetings did not resolve his questions. At a Passover Seder sponsored by a mission to the Jews, he sat next to Dr. Henry Einspruch, founder of Lederer, a Messianic publishing ministry. What he heard there convinced him that Yeshua was the Messiah, and he became a believer.
When Barry Rubin began working with Emmanuel people began to grasp the purpose of a Messianic congregation. The changes at Emmanuel through the last 30 years have been gradual and sometimes painful. Most changes have been directed towards bringing about a more authentic kind of Jewish worship in the Messiah, and this caused some to leave. But growth has been steady, if slow.When Barry Rubin took over the congregation, the ark contained a large cross, a Star of David, and a King James Bible. All that has been replaced by a Torah scroll. Sunday worship has moved to Shabbat. The Torah is read at Emmanuel just as it is read at synagogues throughout the world. And a siddur (prayer book) is used in every service.
Emmanuel started as Emmanuel Neighborhood Center in 1915 to help the new immigrant Jews of east Baltimore. In 1963 Emmanuel became an official congregation, Emmanuel Presbyterian Hebrew Congregation. In 1989 Barry petitioned the Presbyterian Church to allow Emmanuel to become an independent work with a Jewish focus. The petition was approved in 1990.Since then Emmanuel has moved into a building of its own in Columbia. But these changes have not taken place in a vacuum. The nature of Jewish evangelism has changed even as Emmanuel has changed. Messianic congregations like Emmanuel are no longer incorporating Jewish practices solely to make Jewish visitors feel comfortable. There is a genuine desire to celebrate the Messiah's Jewishness, and to stand together with Jews everywhere on Shabbat to worship him who "gives life to the dead." And there is always the opportunity to help the Church to better understand its roots, to "bridge the gap " between the church and synagogue.
Rabbi Barry Rubin believes that Messianic Judaism should become accepted as Judaism. He also believes that Emmanuel could become the most appealing synagogue in Howard County, offering Jews, as he said in an earlier newsletter, "the message of the Messiah, better biblical interpretation, and more sanctified living."