Review: The Siege of Jerusalem: Selected Writings of Pauline Rose

In the Messianic Jewish community, we often invoke our long heritage going back to biblical times, but we generally overlook the recent history of our movement. Vine of David is providing a great service in countering this blind spot among us with its “Messianic Luminaries Series,” most recently featuring the life and writings of Pauline Rose (1898–1973).4061

Pauline was born in South Africa, where she married Albert Rose, a prosperous dealer in ostrich feathers, which were a fashion staple of the time. After the feather market collapsed, the Roses moved to London in the early 30s, where Albert again prospered as a builder and developer, while Pauline pursued her interest in art and a career in design. Albert lived as a traditionally observant Jew, but Pauline was on a spiritual quest through this whole period, often desperate in her search for meaning and truth. Shortly before or during World War II she had a transformative encounter with Yeshua:

Then, in my despair, Yeshua revealed himself to me. From one moment to the next I was transported from the depths of despair to the heights of joy. From that time the Spirit began the work of transformation within me and I saw Yeshua not only as my personal Saviour, but also as the Messiah of Israel.[1]

Pauline’s final phrase would be echoed by multitudes of Jews coming to Messianic faith during the Jesus movement and beyond: “I saw Yeshua not only as my personal Saviour, but also as the Messiah of Israel.” It’s a core element of the whole Messianic Jewish vision.

But what Pauline Rose actually said was, “I saw Jesus.” not “I saw Yeshua.” Boaz Michael indicates in his introduction that this edition “update[s] the language in keeping with modern Messianic Jewish preferences.”[2] Likewise, “Jewish Christian” is changed to “Messianic Judaism,” “Messianic Jew,” or “Messianic Jewish.” This modification of language enhances the readability of the book, but it raises the issue of whether this edition imposes a contemporary concept of Messianic Judaism upon an early Jewish-Christian leader.

Rose’s own words help resolve this issue, as she describes the meaning and purpose of the Messianic Jewish community:

  1. We are a community of Jews who believe Yeshua of Nazareth to be the Messiah of Israel, the Saviour of the world; we remain united with our Jewish people, not becoming members of any Gentile church.

  2. We believe that we are called into being to be a group witness for our faith in Israel and to be a spiritual centre and home for all Jews who seek the Messiah.

  3. Our mission is to rekindle the light of the Messiah in the synagogue and to proclaim the message of the kingdom to the Jews and to all nations. We believe that the return of the Messiah is very near, and our message is a call to all Christians to unite under the banner of the Messiah in Israel, and to prepare the way to his kingdom. [3]

This 1953 statement is ahead of its times in framing faith in Yeshua in positive relationship with Jewish life and identity. Rose doesn’t picture Yeshua-faith as a transfer from synagogue to church; rather “we remain united with our Jewish people, not becoming members of any Gentile church.” Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, belongs within Israel and among the Jewish people, and so do his followers. The “mission is to rekindle the light of the Messiah in the synagogue.” This sort of terminology is echoed in Messianic Jewish thought and writings of the 21st century, including writings that contrast the Messianic Jew and the Jewish or Hebrew Christian. Vine of David’s modification of terminology reflects Rose’s actual thinking. At the same time, it could be argued that this edition should have retained her original terminology and provided annotation to highlight the distinctly Messianic Jewish quality of her thinking.

In any event, Pauline Rose took the idea of rekindling the light of Messiah within a Jewish setting in its most literal sense. On June 16, 1944, in the midst of World War II London, she met on Erev Shabbat with a handful of other Jewish followers of Messiah and their Gentile friends to kindle the Sabbath lights, with the traditional blessings—and also “in honour of Yeshua the Messiah, the Lord of the Sabbath.”[4] I’ve often advised Jewish believers in Yeshua who ask how to start a congregation to do the same thing: meet on Erev Shabbat, honor the Shabbat in the ways of our rich tradition, and welcome Messiah Yeshua into the midst of your celebration. Two years almost to the day after the first kindling, on June 22, 1946, Rose and her friends met on the Mount of Olives to kindle “the Sabbath light of the Messiah for the first time in Jerusalem.” She notes, “This date marks the beginning of the Synagogue of Messiah in the Holy City.”[5] A few years later, the Roses moved permanently to Jerusalem, where Pauline pursued her quest to see Messiah Yeshua once more established in his land and among his people.

As the title implies, the book includes Rose’s account of her experience of the 1948 Siege of Jerusalem and its aftermath, providing a valuable first-hand account of the ordeal, which we might tend to overlook because of the historic victory that followed. For Rose, the ordeal included being kidnapped and held as a spy for several days by the Stern Gang (a Jewish extremist group), as well as suffering the general deprivations of the siege.

As a Messianic Jew, Rose embraced and participated in the vision of a restored Jewish homeland, embodied in the state of Israel that arose out of such challenges. She also maintained the vision of an ultimate hope that transcends contemporary Israel.

I felt a deep thankfulness for all the miracles that showed the hand of God at work amongst his people Israel: but in my heart was the prayer that I may soon see the day when the further promise of God will be fulfilled. The day when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up their sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”[6]

It’s fitting that one so committed to the Messianic redemption of her people was able to be onsite in 1948 during the pivotal moment of their redemption, a redemption still unfolding in ways that Pauline Rose anticipated 70 years ago.  Her portrayal of the state of Israel as a miraculous advance on the way to redemption, which must give way to the millennial kingdom of Israel, provides a healthy balance for our discourse today.

A special thanks goes to Vine of David for doing the hard work of collecting, translating, editing and presenting the writings of a little-known, but visionary, Messianic Jewish pioneer. Their loving efforts are epitomized in their act of locating the graves of Pauline and Albert Rose in Jerusalem and cleaning the gravestones to honor their memory.

 

[1] The Siege of Jerusalem: Selected Writings of Pauline Rose. Compiled, edited, and revised by Boaz Michael (Jerusalem: Vine of David, 2016), 11.

[2] Ibid. 4.

[3] Ibid. 53-54.

[4] Ibid. 45.

[5] Ibid. 47.

[6] Ibid. 127 – 128.

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7 thoughts on “Review: The Siege of Jerusalem: Selected Writings of Pauline Rose”

  1. P.S. Yesterday, Aug. 4, was nine years since you came to Beth Messiah in Houston for our Torah procession to our new building. Thank you! It was wonderful to look through the pictures I took and remember you were there. 🙂

  2. Shalom,

    Thank you for your kind review. I hope that you have enjoyed the books and they have strengthened your faith and given you a deeper sense of devotion.

    I briefly tried to find the reference this morning, but my time is limited. One of the reasons why we changed the name from Jesus to Yeshua was that Poljak (whom Pauline Rose was a part of his group and many of her articles appeared in his journal) made a public announcement sometime in the early 50’s of their organizational change from using Jesus to Yeshua, etc. We justified this retroactive change based upon their own epiphany in this area. We thought it is better to honor their wishes than history in this area. I should have footnoted this change—I will mark it down so we can add this in a future reprint.

    Also, we do not want to publicly share where her grave is, but would be happy to either take people there or share privately.

    Again, thank you for your kind review. Part of our intention with these works is to bring these Messianic Jewish luminaries and their lives honor. Knowing the her works where read and considered by you makes us happy.

    Grace and peace, Boaz

    1. Boaz, thanks for your response–and thanks especially for your diligent labors in providing all these resources of Messianic Jewish history for the benefit of our community. Your explanatory note about Poljak’s use of “Yeshua” back in the early 50’s is fascinating, and would definitely support your translation decision.

      1. Boaz, my non-Jewish great grand aunt lived in Jerusalem and was buried there in a cemetery for pioneers in Israel after she died there in 1940. I have been to the cemetery twice and wondered about Pauline and Albert Rose. G-d bless them, and G-d bless you.

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