Tikvat Israel on Cleveland's East Side

A church that blends the faith of Christians and the hope of the Jewish people.
by Kirk Rattray

Psalm 133 declares to " behold how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell in unity." This is especially true when those brethren are Jewish and Christian believers. One eastside church, has found a way to successfully meld both faiths into a congregation that loves Jesus equally as the Son of God and as the Messiah.

For over twenty-five years, Tikvat Israel has been one of the leading messianic congregations in this area. Rabbi Walter Lieber, founder of the church, cites many reasons for his enthusiasm, including his 35th wedding anniversary, a new home for the church, and the outpouring of God's blessings on the messianic movement. The messianic movement in this country coincided with Israel's' 1967 recapture of Jerusalem and the Jesus People movement of the same period.

Tikvat is the Jewish word for "hope of, " and Rabbi Liebers miraculous conversion was a harbinger for his life's calling. In college, he met his wife, Linda, who "loved Judaism," and was married in 1967. Several years later, wooed by her friends' sincerity. Linda attended her first Bible study, where " They started telling her that Jesus was the Messiah, which of course, as a loyal Jew knew, was completely false." After being shown Biblical prophecy, Linda began to examine the Old Testament, which she believed in and knew "the Christians haven't tampered with." Shortly later, the spirit of God accosted her when "something clicked. She just knew that Jesus was the Messiah."

The Liebers have been madly in love with Yeshua, the Hebrew word for Jesus, ever since. Armed with "this change of heart," Walter began to develop a thirst for the Bible" and even prayed to be baptized before he even knew what it meant!

Within six months of their conversion, the Liebers felt the call to full-time ministry, and moved from Akron to Cleveland in the early 70s. Initially, Walter thought that "you get some Jewish believers together and you've got a messianic congregation," but instead had to immerse himself in Jewish and Theological studies at several universities. Despite years of misunderstanding, hurt and confusion between the two faiths, Tikvat Israel is a place where Judaism and Christianity are seamlessly woven together.

In "trying to recover a history that was lost," Rabbi Lieber uses the book of Acts as a model for a Messianic congregation, and both faiths feel comfortable at Tikvat Israel. To a Jewish person, Tikvat is a place where Jesus "is the fulfillment of Jewish hopes" and "without Him, the purposes of God for Jews cannot be completely fulfilled." Also, the observance of all Jewish festival and customs, coupled with the knowledge of Yeshua, allows "relationship with God that is closer and more intimate than most Jewish people have any idea is possible."

For the Christian believer, Tikvat teaches that "the destiny of the church will not be fulfilled without Israel." Christians can learn how to "lovingly, sacrificially be willing to share the gospel," and a seminar on how to witness to Jewish people is planned for this Fall. Calling Israel "God's timepiece," Rabbi Walter encourages Christians to memorize "Biblical prophecies that have been fulfilled in the modern Jewish state of Israel," using them as a platform to share the Messianic prophecies.

Jesus said that "many are called, but few are chosen" Rabbi Walter Lieber and wife Linda are both called and chosen to lead a unique congregation that effortlessly unites two different faiths under one name- Jesus/ Yeshua. Tikvat Israel's new, larger home is in the Nazarene Church at 5942 Wilson Mills Road, Highland Hts, and meets at the user- friendly time of 10am every Saturday. The phone number, 216-491-1001, remains unchanged. Rabbi Walter invites you to visit his church and find out why the Messianic movement is the fastest growing segment of Judaism today.

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