The statement often made that ‘Jews don’t proselytize’ may reflect the contemporary trend in the Jewish community, but hardly summarizes the Jewish attitude in the past. Indeed there was widespread conversion to Judaism during the period of the Second Temple.
What is usually meant by the statement ‘Jews don’t proselytize’ is that no one truth is binding on anyone, and people should be left free to believe what they want. People should be free to choose what to believe, but it isn’t the case that no absolute truth exists! This idea is completely foreign to the Jewish way of thinking; it reflects the trends of the larger gentile culture, which in the last few years has come to this conclusion.
We believe that there is a binding truth and that it is incumbent upon us to share that truth with others. Didn’t God require us thousands of years ago to share his truth with the foreign nations of the world? Isaiah, the prophet, speaks of Israel as his servant, then goes on to say that Israel has not fulfilled this mission. The ‘servant’ is then narrowed down to one particular individual within Israel. Isaiah 42:1-6 speaks of a ‘chosen people’: chosen for a mission and a purpose, to make God’s ways known to the nations.
Unfortunately this sense of mission has decreased more and more over the years. Today it is virtually a foregone conclusion that we Jews just don’t bother with proselytism. But for those of us who are believers in Jesus, what better news could there be to spread than the fact that the Messiah has come, and has provided atonement and an abundant life for Jews and Gentiles alike? It is not up to us to convert anyone; that’s God’s business. But we can – and we’ll continue to tell – the message of the Messiah to our people and to anyone who cares to listen.
Jews don’t believe in proselytizing, so why do you try and convert everyone to your way of thinking?