FARMINGTON — Anyone interested in learning more about Messianic Judaism and the New Testament can attend an in-depth class.

The new class meets at 11 a.m. on Saturdays through May at the Crouch Mesa Community Church. Just less a dozen people showed up for the introductory class on Jan. 11.

Chuck Lanza is one of the board members of Beit Ari Yehuda, a local Messianic Judaism group that formed two years ago. He said Crouch Mesa Community Church allowed the group to use the church because, as of now, the group does not have its own meeting place. However, it hopes to eventually build a synagogue.

Lanza has served in leadership positions in Messianic Judaism communities for around 10 years.

Messianic Judaism books are shown on Saturday at Crouch Mesa Community Church in Farmington.
Messianic Judaism books are shown on Saturday at Crouch Mesa Community Church in Farmington. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Aaron Diem, the congregational leader of Beit Ari Yehuda, is teaching the course. He explained Messianic Judaism is similar to Judaism but followers believe that Jesus is the messiah promised by the prophets in the Old Testament, or the Torah.

Anybody who wants to petition for membership in the Beit Ari Yehuda community has to complete the course, but people interested in learning about Judaism or gaining a greater understanding of the New Testament are also invited to attend.

The course examines historical issues over the past 2,000 years and teaches about traditional blessings and prayers.

"By the time you are done with this class, you will have essentially completed a college semester course," Diem told the attendees Saturday.

Diem said he encourages people to "leave your preconceptions at the door" when they attend class. But he does ask them to bring a sense of humor.

"You have to be willing to stumble and trip, because you will," he said.

He said everyone struggles with pronunciation as they learn the blessings.

"You will sound like Klingons," he said.

Chuck Lanza listens as Aaron Diem leads a class on Messianic Judaism class on Saturday at Crouch Mesa Community Church in Farmington.
Chuck Lanza listens as Aaron Diem leads a class on Messianic Judaism class on Saturday at Crouch Mesa Community Church in Farmington. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Attendees are also asked to bring a Bible and, if possible, a Tanakh -- which is equivalent to the Old Testament in the Bible -- with both the English translation and Hebrew text side by side. Diem said it is important for the Tanakh to have Hebrew text because some practices and beliefs are rooted in the interpretation of a single Hebrew word or even a letter within a word.

While the course officially began Saturday with an introduction, the first lessons start this week.

The class will talk about the Halacha -- or standards -- for the Beit Ari Yehuda community.

It will also look at the Torah, starting with Genesis, and Jewish history. The course also addresses ethics and beliefs. Each class period also examines a blessing.

"What good is liturgy if you don't understand the core of the liturgy?" Diem said. "What good is a blessing if you don't understand why?"

This week's blessing will be the Shema, which serves as the centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services.

On Feb. 8, the class will focus on a verse from Sanhedrin, one of the books in the Talmud, that addresses racism, speciesism and sexism.

He said there is nothing in the Torah stating one person's life holds more value than another person's.

"Both of our lives are sacred, and I am obligated to protect his," he said.

Another topic that will be discussed Feb. 22 is lashon hara, or evil speech. Diem said evil speech not only includes gossip but also words that are true but harmful. He quoted Jewish scholars who have said, "It's just as easy to murder with your words as it is with the sword."

The course will continue for 20 weeks, and Diem said Beit Ari Yehuda's goal is to strengthen the local Jewish community, both Messianic and non-Messianic.

"This is not a small course, but it will be worth your time," Diem said.

IF YOU GO

What: Messianic Judaism 101

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Crouch Mesa Community Church, 10 County Road 3323

Cost: Free

More info: www.ariyehuda.com

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.