Izzy here. Welcome! The purpose of this group is to give you a place to meet, get to know each other, and talk about what you're learning at holylanguage.com. I want you to have a fabulous time with your new community, so please read these guidelines before jumping in. (I know, there are ten...almost like the ten commandments. Maybe I should have written "thou shalt" instead of "do"?)

1.  DO share on a personal level. Introduce yourself, say where you're from, and  tell us your story! We're looking forward to meeting you. We'd also love to hear your prayer requests and praise reports. Or if you need somebody to laugh or cry with, come talk to us. We're that kind of community.

2.  DO check in after finishing a lesson with your thoughts and questions. We want to congratulate you and encourage you to keep going. I also want to hear your honest responses, including your pushbacks and disagreements. I'm serious about this! This is a place where you can be yourself and be 100% real. We're a very diverse bunch (more on that later), and trust me there is room for you.  So tell us about your gut reactions, your thought processes, and the questions you're wrestling with.

3.  DO make posts that are somehow related to our focus on "following Yeshua in a Hebrew way, together". (You can read more of what that means to us here.) What I'm trying to say is, no cat pictures. Along those lines,

4.  DO remember why most of our members have joined this group - because they're learning from me, and they want a place to discuss what they're learning at holylanguage.com. For that reason, please don't post stuff from other sources and pages here. We're very supportive of some of these other ministries, but this isn't the place for it. We encourage you to friend each other and share these wonderful resources from your own walls instead. If you're not sure about whether to share something, ask yourself if it will help the members of this group focus on what they're learning at holylanguage.com, or take them away from it. We do have two exceptions to this rule - First Fruits of Zion is the first. We call them our "ministry crush", and highly recommend their videos and publications. The other exception is if someone posts a question, and you have an article or resource that would be helpful. Feel free to share that in the comments to their post. Just make sure it's not from anyone crazy like that guy with the hair who's always talking about aliens.

5.  DO be sensitive to the fact that when you make a post everyone in the group gets a notification. For that reason, please limit yourself to one post a day. It probably goes without saying, but this just applies to posts. When it comes to commenting on other people's posts, the more comments the merrier!

6.  DO be mindful of the fact that not everyone in this group sees things the same way. We come from a wide variety of cultures, nationalities, linguistic backgrounds, denominational affiliations, and life experiences. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths because it brings depth and clarity to our communal experience, and makes us unique. At the same time, diversity can feel threatening. There will probably be times when you encounter people in our group who have radically different views than yours, and you may even find something in you  responding with fear or offense. When you experience those emotions, please don't run away. Take a deep breath, look to the Messiah, and remember that we're all here because of our desire to follow him more closely and know him better. And if the group's too much for you, that's ok. You didn't join for the group anyway, you joined to learn with me on the website. So if you need to just stick to the lessons on the website and never mind all those crazy people in that group. :)

7.  DO stay respectful. For instance, when it comes to Judaism, we honour the Jewish people, and we value the rich contributions of the Rabbis. Some of us practice Judaism and some don't, and those of us who do may depart from traditional Judaism on some points. Whatever the case may be, we keep it respectful, and criticize reluctantly and carefully - as members of the family, or not at all. Similarly when it comes to Christianity, we respect the body of Christ and all its members. Of course we passionately dissent from some historic church doctrines, but we have those conversations the same way we talk about Judaism. We respect the sincerity and integrity of Christians throughout history, and we criticize reluctantly and carefully - as members of the family, or not at all.

8.  DO be aware that after much deliberation I've decided there is one topic that's off-limits. I mean, besides cat pictures. We've seen several debates about the Trinity, and I think they've done more harm than good. So if you're wondering about this I'll just tell you the official position of Holy Language Institute, and we'll leave it at that with the understanding that not everyone in our group agrees.  I don't use the term "Trinity" because it's not a Biblical term, because it carries so much negative baggage for the Jewish people, and because the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 teaches us to focus on the unity of God. At the same time, yes I do believe in the doctrine of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If Yeshua wasn't God, the apostles did a very poor job making that clear in the New Testament.  Having said that though, Yeshua taught us to worship and pray to the Father, and he emphasized his humanity by frequently referring to himself as the "son of man", which is the Hebrew word for "human". It reminds me of Tevye, in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, here. On the other hand...but on the other hand...but then on the other hand! There's a reason this debate has raged throughout church history. It's impossible for finite brains to fully comprehend a superdimensional being! So instead of trying to dissect God and talking about him like he's not in the room, let's press in to know and experience him personally. If you are seriously trying to understand this sensitive and complex question, feel free to private message one of our admins and they'll be glad to help. It's just not a topic for group discussion. Now get back to your Hebrew studies! lol

9.  DO stay positive and constructive. It's fine to express disagreements and debate ideas, and quite frankly I hope to see you doing that. Just make sure you don't end up making personal attacks or fighting dirty. You know, do your part to make this a safe neighborhood. One fun little way to picture the difference between friendly debate and street fighting is to look at the difference between question marks and exclamation marks. A question mark (?) resembles a little hook, and that's how it functions in dialogue - it attracts and engages people. An exclamation mark (!), on the other hand, resembles a bat, and that's often how we find it being used - to beat people with our points. If you do end up going all ghetto and the bats come out, just don't be surprised when the cops show up and shut down the party. And don't say I didn't warn you!

10.  DO treat others the way you'd like to be treated. This is your community, and ultimately you'll get out of it what you put into it. So if it makes you feel good when we like your posts or comment on them, then do that for our posts too! If you enjoy being congratulated and encouraged when you finish a lesson, then own this thing and do the same for us. See how that works? :) All that to say, let's each do our part to make this an awesome community, and a tribe we can be proud of!

Technical notes:

There may be times when the cops - er, I mean admins - feel that certain conversations or posts aren't in harmony with these guidelines. In that event, there may be rare occasions where they remove posts or comments. If that happens to something you contributed, please don't be discouraged or take it negatively. We love you and appreciate your involvement, so please stay brave and keep posting and commenting!

You're a member of this group because you're actively supporting Holy Language Institute as a subscriber, donor, or volunteer. As long as you continue your subscription or volunteering activities, your membership in this group will continue. If you stop subscribing or volunteering, one of our admins will remove you from the group and you will suddenly wake up to find yourself on another planet!