I was born in Los Angeles, California in 1950. My parents were first generation American Jews whose parents migrated from Russia, Romania and Poland. My parents were secular Jews. We celebrated Passover, Chanukah and went to a reform temple for religious school.
My parents set a very wholesome environment. I was very involved in sports growing up. I always loved to hear my grandparents share about their commitment to Israel. My grandma was very involved in raising money for shovels, tents and medicine for the Jewish pioneers desiring to establish the new state of Israel. I would see pictures on the wall of Israeli Jewish orphan boys and girls whom they sponsored. Their parents had died of terrorism or malaria. These stories later would mean a lot to me.
I eventually finished high school and went on to college. After a while in college I decided to take a break and go to Israel for a summer. My grandparents had mentioned that if I ever went to Israel my eyes would ‘open up.’ How little did I know at the time how profound that statement would become. I was interested while in Israel to learn more about my heritage as a Jew. I first lived on a secular kibbutz on the Mediterranean coast. My roommates of all things were Swedish Mafia volunteers who wanted to befriend me and invite me to join them as they went back to Europe. This was not of interest to me at all. I asked someone where I could find a kibbutz where I could definitely start to learn more about the Jewish traditions, language etc. They recommended that I go to a religious kibbutz ulpan, where I could learn Hebrew half a day and work on the land half a day.
I went to a kibbutz by the Jordan river south of the Sea of Galilee. While working there it dawned on me that there really is a God! I was working the land, picking grapes for export, pulling fish out of fish ponds, laying irrigation for the land to blossom in a land that was dormant for 2,000 years. I knew the Bible stated in Ezekial 36 that our people would return and the land would be restored. I was experiencing this first hand! There I started a five year journey where I began to learn Hebrew, the laws of Sabbath, keeping kosher, prayer etc. Eventually I left the kibbutz and joined a yesivah run by an American Rabbi helping American Jewish youth to learn the Torah and Talmud. After leaving that school I went to Jerusalem where I joined an ultra-orthodox Chassidic synagogue and worked as a carpenter’s helper.
After five years I finally came home to the USA. I finished my college degree and went on to a post graduate school. At this point I really wasn`t sure about future goals. After I came back from some grueling finals at college I turned on the TV. It caught my attention that a Christian TV station was filming in Israel, looking down from the Mt. of Olives toward the Western Wall where I had been many times. They were preaching about Jesus.
I called the number on the screen and asked them what this was all about. I was not happy that they were going to Israel and preaching about this man that they worshipped as God. A Jewish girl got on the phone and shared with me many verses from the Hebrew scriptures about who the Messiah would be. I never studied these scriptures in all the time I was in Israel.
- He would be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2
- From the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:10
- He would be born of a Virgin – Isaiah 7:14
- He would be rejected at first and suffer for our sins – Isaiah 52:13 thru 53
- He would be crucified and hands and feet pierced – Psalm 22:16
- He would be resurrected – Psalm 16:1-11
- He would bring salvation to the Gentiles – Isaiah 49:6
- New Covenant of the law written in our hearts – Jeremiah 31:31
What??!! A new covenant? Not according to all those laws I was trying so dilligently to keep while living in Israel as a Chassidic Jew? It really surprised me that this was written in MY Hebrew Scriptures.
She went on to share so many Scriptures describing our promised Jewish Messiah. As she spoke I looked back and forth at my Hebrew-English Tenach. Amazingly all these prophesies were there and it could only be describing one person: Yeshua ha Mashiach or in English, Jesus the Messiah!!
At the end of our discussion on the phone she asked me to pray that IF Jesus is the promised Messiah that He would reveal Himself to me. I did so. She never thought she would ever hear from me again. But a few days later I called back the TV station and asked to talk to her some more. She eventually took me to where she worshipped. On another day we met to hear an evangelist named Greg Laurie speak at the same church, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He shared about how Pharaoh kept hardening his heart to what God was trying to get through to him. Likewise if we hear God speaking to us and we don`t respond to the nudging of the Spirit of God, we might not be able to respond eventually. In my heart I knew that what had been presented to me was the truth so I did respond and went forward to make a committment to follow my Messiah, Jesus, the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!!’ (John 1:29)”