One of the characteristics shared by all the congregations of the Messianic Jewish movement is a high view of Scripture and a consequent determination to order congregational life according to what was in the 1970s often called biblical kashrut and is now more simply designated Torah. Therefore, Messianic Jews share a virtually universal adherence to the Jewish liturgical calendar that is mandated in the Torah itself. This approach differs significantly from the older Hebrew Christian philosophy, which taught that having been set free from the “burden” of the law by the Messiah, it would be wrong to practice the liturgical year whose very existence derives from that law. The Hebrew Christian practice had been to mention at a Sunday service that, during the following week, a Jewish holiday would occur.
The Messianic Synagogue, true to its direct connection to Judaism, often incorporates musical materials with Israeli motifs. Congregations may have a worship leader called a “cantor,” but the art of solo cantorial singing, common in Jewish temples, is rarely encountered. Accompaniment for singing is most often supplied by the guitar, strings, tambourine, and—more recently—electronic equipment such as synthesizers. Drama, the visual arts, and carpentry for such important features as the ark do find ready use in Messianic Synagogue worship.
The contemporary Messianic Jewish movement locates its roots in the original Jewish community of believers in Jesus that flourished in the century following the Crucifixion. The movement seeks to reconstruct that indigenous messianic presence within the Jewish community today.