I was born into a Jewish family in Miami Beach Florida. Growing up, we lived in a mostly non-Jewish neighborhood. During Christmas time, my parents would celebrate Hanukkah on Christmas Day so that we would not feel out of sorts with all the other neighborhood kids, who were celebrating their holiday.
While growing up, we did not attend Synagogue on a regular basis, only on special events such as a Bar Mitzvah or Wedding. When I was 12, my parents hired a tutor to teach me how to become a Bar Mitzvah which was the same for my two older brothers. After that, I didn't attend Synagogue until my two sons became the age to begin Hebrew School. The Synagogue we joined required a certain number of attendances for a Bar Mitzvah, so I decided to lead by example and get involved.
During the next dozen years, I became a leader in a Conservative Synagogue. I got involved in service work including Chevra Kaddisha (The Burial Society), I began assisting during services as Gabbai, and eventually began leading services at morning minyon, Shabbat Services, and then Yom Kippur and Rosh Hanshana Services. That was an amazing experience and a real honor to lead services in Hebrew for nearly 1000 services over the years.
There was something missing though during this time. I got to know the 'insiders' at the Synagogue, the regulars, and I noticed that they all knew how to behave in services, how to dress, when to stand and sit, all the rituals, but behind closed doors, there was a lot of inappropriate behavior going on with people. I too, was not behaving appropriately and knew that something was missing and needed change.
One of my dear friends told me about Isaiah 53 and a few other key chapters in the Old Testament and planted seeds with me. It took me another 8 years before I would understand, but after these seeds were planted, I left the Synagogue to figure out why there was all kinds of rituals and why there was a lack of spirituality and appropriate behavior. I wanted to find out why I was unfulfilled and having repeated fallen relationships as were the many 'insiders' I knew at the Synagogue.
February 3, 2005, I went to a bagel shop for breakfast and saw Sylvia for the first time. When she walked up to me, we met and talked throughout breakfast from adjoining tables. We met for dinner that evening and I expressed an interest in dating her but she told me that she would not date someone who is unequally yoked. I was so full of myself that I told her not to worry....she would catch up!!! Fortunately for me, she accepted a date but only to a bible study class. My background never took me to a bible study and I really wanted to date her, so I went to bible study.
Much to my amazement, the study revealed a reverence for The Old Testament and for the Jewish Heritage. I went to another study and then another. Sylvia invited me to a church service, which was very uncomfortable as I have never been to one. During the sermon, my amazement continued as the Pastor shared his reverence for The Old Testament and for the Jewish Heritage. I was astounded.....why was this not shared in the Synagogue?!!
I became a regular at this church and bible study and took on another men's group bible study. Everywhere at this church service and bible study was reverence for Judaism, the Jewish Heritage, and The Old Testament. We were approaching Spring and there was an Easter Production at the church. The opening scene was Isaiah sharing prophecy and the 50 foot backdrop of the stage was writings in Hebrew. I told Sylvia that I could read all of the Hebrew....she replied, this presentation is for you!! I was incredibly moved by the Easter Story.
A short time later, Sylvia invited me to a presentation of Christ in The Passover, presented by Murray Tilles of Light of Messiah. Before the end of the presentation, I told Sylvia that I needed to talk with Murray before we left. We read Isaiah 53 together, had a discussion about eternal salvation, and that night, I took Murray's hand and Sylvia's hand and we prayed together to accept Jesus, The Messiah, into my life.
My life has not looked the same since that moment. My Jewish family stopped speaking with me over this decision, yet none of them ever studied the bible. They were essentially persecuting me based upon stories handed down from one generation to another by their rabbis and ancestors, but not based upon facts. Hard to believe that family love can be so conditional!!
Sylvia and I were married, by Murray Tilles, 7 months and 7 days after the day we met. My two sons attended the wedding but my family did not. We continued to attend services, study the bible, and participate in Home Study Groups. By the end of our first year of marriage, we received a great gift from The Lord. That gift was that I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Yes, it was a great gift, in retrospect. What was the gift? I got the opportunity to see The Love of Christ and the receiving of miracles. We had hundreds of faithful servants praying for me....people I knew and people I did not know. I got the blessing of receiving hands on prayers and being anointed with oil from my Home Study Group, numerous times according to James 5. Within less than a year, my diagnosis was changed to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, a more manageable and treatable illness. I'm firmly convinced that the prayers changed my diagnosis.
Another great miracle was that my family, who stopped talking with me, began a loving relationship again with me due to this illness. The Lord knew what He was doing when He blessed me with such a serious illness. My Jewish family need to be shaken out of their conditional love for me. Also, many faithful believers grew spiritually as they watched Sylvia and me behave with great belief and calmness during this illness. We demonstrated that it didn't matter if I lived or died, we were content with our outcome because we had a relationship with The Lord.
I am grateful that I was chosen to be saved and selected by The Lord to be used for His Will to be done through me. What a great honor. During my chemo treatments, I studied the bible and when anyone approached me to talk, I witnessed to them. I never once got the usual illnesses during chemo treatments. I was able to eat, drink, and study the bible throughout treatments while others around me in the chemo room were very ill. Praise The Lord, for He is our Great Healer!! Six months later, I was completely free of cancer and discharged from treatments.
My activities include attending services every Sunday, weekly bible study Sunday mornings, co-facilitate Home Study Group Sunday nights twice a month, attend men's bible study weekly on Tuesday mornings, lead a men's weekly bible study group Friday mornings, attend weekly Wednesday night rehearsals for Praise and Worship Band, and play the piano in the Praise and Worship Band on Sunday mornings. In addition, the Christ in The Passover Presentation was so meaningful to me from a Jewish perspective that I now present this to church groups and share my testimony through this presentation, giving historical references, biblical references, and discussing The Last Supper as a Passover Seder, the birth of the church, and the marriage proposal to the church during that Supper as it relates to the Ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract.
If there was one thing specific I would ask of any reader, I would say to learn the chapters and verses in the Old Testament that have Messianic Prophecy and share these with your Jewish friends, engage in conversations about them, and ask them to explain the meaning of those verses. Knowing the Old Testament verses and their meanings is of paramount importance in planting seeds for salvation to our Jewish brothers and sisters.
- Back to Top -
© Copyright 2010 Light of Messiah Ministries