A movement of gentiles observing some aspects of Jewish law and teachings is becoming more organized, thanks to the growing support of some Jewish groups. Moment magazine (October) reports that the Noahide movement is made up largely of ex-Christians (and usually ex-evangelicals and ex-fundamentalists) who adopt the Jewish concept that before the Ten Commandments, God ordained “seven laws of Noah,” involving general laws of morality and monotheism, to be observed by non-Jews.
Michael Kress writes that there have been “Righteous Gentiles” who have centered their belief around Judaism throughout history, but today these individuals are beginning to “organize as a worldwide movement.” There are “hundreds, maybe even thousands of Noahides,” and a growing number of websites, study centers and associations devoted to the cause, such as Root & Branch and Noahide Nations.
In order to bring the fragmented movement together, a High Council of B‘nai Noah was founded, with the support of some Orthodox Jewish leaders. The Orthodox Jews, particularly the Lubavich Hasidim and its outreach arm Chabad, have been in the forefront of promoting the Noahides. Believing that Righteous Gentiles are required to help usher in the coming of the messiah, Chabad rabbis have worked to bring a structure and unity to the movement. They have created a Noahide prayerbook and liturgy of lifecycle rituals, such as funerals and naming ceremonies.
Rabbis are also working on a text on which Jewish laws do and do not pertain to Noahides (they usually are almost as observant as Orthodox Jews). But some observers doubt whether the Noahides can flourish as a movement apart from mainstream Judaism. University of Toronto theologian David Novak predicts that Noahides will either eventually return to their original faiths or convert to Judaism: “If you want rabbis to tell you what to do, why not convert to Judaism? It’s an untenable situation.”
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