Volume 48 | Number 1
JEWISH VOICE TODAY MAGAZINE
January/February 2014 | Tevet/Shevat/Adar 5774 | rda/hay/ZAH
Does Your Heart Beat
for the Hurting? Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Dental & Eye Outreach April 25 - May 4, 2014*
Visit this city plagued by poverty and minister through medicine and prayer to the Beta Avraham and Beta Israel Jewish communities of the Kechene neighborhood.
NEW! Russia Hear O’ Israel! Festival Outreach Dates: TBD
We are bringing the Good News of Yeshua to the Jewish population of Russia through our Hear O’ Israel! Festival of Jewish Music & Dance.
Zimbabwe Combo Medical Outreaches July 24 - August 4, 2014* July 31 - August 11, 2014*
Two cities, two clinics, one people—Minister to the Lemba of Zimbabwe, descendants from the priestly line of Aaron who are eager to hear about their Messiah and receive free medical care.
For 2014 outreach dates or to register: www.jewishvoice.org/outreach, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-299-YESHUA.
*Dates subject to change.
2 JewishVoiceToday.org | 800-299-YESHUA
M]L[ SHALOM Dear Partners and Friends,
I want to begin by wishing you a blessed and fruitful New Year! We are praying that 2014 will be an extraordinary year of blessing for you. As we step into our 47th year as a ministry and celebrate 47 years of God’s faithfulness, the Jewish Voice staff and I are gearing up for an enormously effective and productive year as we proclaim Yeshua as Messiah around the world, to the Jew first and also to the Nations.
From the moment Jesus began His public ministry, the debate over His true identity has raged on within the Jewish community. While many did embrace Him as Messiah and became “Messianic Jews,” the vast majority of Israel’s spiritual leaders rejected Him. As a result, the Jewish People as a whole have rejected Him as Messiah for two millennia. In recent years, however, two interesting developments have occurred. First, many Jewish scholars and rabbis have reclaimed Jesus as “one of us,” a Jew. Although they still don’t recognize Him as the promised Messiah, they have reaffirmed His heritage as a rabbi, a teacher, perhaps even a prophet … a good Jew. The second development is even more profound. Beginning in the early 1970s (following the Six Day War and the re-establishment of Jerusalem under Jewish control), an outpouring of the Holy Spirit drew thousands of Jewish youth into the Kingdom of God. They came to understand that they had not converted to another religion but had found their promised Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. Thus, the modern Messianic Jewish Movement was born. Over these last four decades, more Jewish People have accepted Yeshua as Messiah than at any time since the first century! We have devoted this first edition of our 2014 Jewish Voice Today magazine to this amazing phenomenon. We hope you will enjoy it. On behalf of all of us at Jewish Voice, thank you for your faithful support last year and for your ongoing partnership throughout this New Year!
Jonathan Bernis, President & CEO Jewish Voice Ministries International
Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
Up Front Restoring the Jewish Identity of Jesus Far from accepting Him as Messiah, Jewish leaders are at least recognizing that Jesus was a Jew. By Jonathan Bernis
Perspective Yeshua, the Kosher Pig
The true and pure Messianic Jewish faith has been hijacked by contradictory religious ideas. By Rabbi Itzhak Shapira
MINISTRY UPDATE The Land of 4,000 Thanks
Months of freedom from waterborne illnesses brings hope to this Jewish community in Ethiopia. By Judi Clarke
Perspective A Rabbi Like No Other
Ways that Jesus was more than just a first-century rabbi. By Dr. Michael L. Brown
Perspective The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus
Commenting on Time magazine’s concept of “Re-Judaizing Jesus.”
FAITH CHRONICLES The God Who Answers Supernaturally
The audacious and supernatural experiences of a husband and wife team who dared to ask God to confirm the Messiahship of Yeshua.
Join us monthly for our 60-minute live, interactive webcast. Please visit www.jewishvoice.org/webcast for the latest information.
Visit www.jewishvoice.org/tvshow to watch online.
Senior Editor Kevin Geoffrey Associate Editor Laura Peck Art Director Evie Kriegbaum Graphic Designers Evie Kriegbaum Jennifer Nelson Jewish Voice Ministries International P.O. Box 31998 Phoenix, AZ 85046-1998 USA 602-97l-850l 800-299-YESHUA (937482) www.jewishvoice.org Jewish Voice Ministries Canada P.O. Box 476 Maple Ridge, BC V2X 3P2 855-7-YESHUA (937482) www.jewishvoice.ca Jewish Voice Ministries UK Admail 4224 London W2 4UN 855-9-YESHUA (937482) www.jvmi.co.uk Magazine questions or comments: email@example.com Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New International Version.
FAITH CHRONICLES Jesus Made Me Jewish ... Again
Being both Jewish and a Believer in Yeshua are compatible and scriptural. By Kevin Geoffrey
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Director of Publications Mary Ellen Breitwiser
By Shelly & June Volk
By Russ Resnik
Executive Editor Jonathan Bernis
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up f r o n t | J o n at h a n b e r n is
the Jewish Identity of
hroughout the world Jewish People are coming to the realization that it is possible to believe in Jesus and remain a Jew. That was not true just fifty years ago. At that time, not a single Messianic Jewish congregation existed anywhere, and very few Jews professed faith in Jesusâ€”several thousand at best. By 2009, more than 350 Messianic Jewish Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
congregations existed around the world, including more than fifty in Israel. At least one million Jews in the United States express some sort of faith in Jesus, according to a nationwide survey. Conservative estimates indicate that the number of Jews who do believe in Jesus, either in Messianic Jewish congregations or in believing churches, range somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 in the United States and 250,000 to 500,000 worldwide. Approximately 20,000 Messianic Jews live in Israel today, and many of these were Jews from the former Soviet Union who now profess faith in Jesus. For the most part, this massive turning of Abraham’s descendants to their Messiah has been ignored by many in the Church, including teachers, historians, and evangelical and charismatic leaders, despite the New Covenant promise that God made to the Jewish People in Jeremiah 31:31: “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.” The prophecy goes on to explain that this New Covenant would be different from the Mosaic Covenant, “because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them” (v. 32). This indicates that God recognized their failure to obey the Law as well as their inability to keep it. But rather than reject the Jewish People, He wanted to provide for them a covenant they could keep—one that would be written on their hearts rather than in stone. 6 JewishVoiceToday.org | 800-299-YESHUA
At least one million Jews in the United States express some sort of faith in Jesus, according to a nationwide survey.
Growing up in a Jewish family, I was taught the Ten Commandments at an early age. Yet only when I became a Believer in Messiah at age twenty did the commands of God take root in my life. Why? Because the laws of God that were external to me before had now been written in my heart through the Holy Spirit. And this is what happens to every true Believer in Messiah. They have come into the glorious New Covenant and that which was external (Mosaic Laws) has now become internal.
made to the Jewish People. They are adopted into God’s family and may partake of the promises the prophet Jeremiah first delivered to the Israelites.
Knowing Him vs. knowing about Him
Jesus was born a Jew of Jewish parents in the Jewish homeland. Growing up, He lived as the Jewish People of His day lived, following the Jewish rituals and customs. When He began His ministry, He prophesied by the Jewish prophets. His disciples were all Jewish, and He spent His time on earth proclaiming the Good News to His own people. Jesus Himself said that He “was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (see Matthew 15:24).
This New Covenant is a living, breathing relationship with God. “I will be their God, and they will be my People” is a promise of adoption and inheritance. It speaks of an intimacy where He is no longer just Adonai (literally “Sir” in Hebrew) but is now Abba, “Daddy.” It is about knowing Him personally, not just knowing about Him. I learned a lot about God as a child—how He had performed miracles through the heroes of the Bible, parted the Red Sea, gave the Children of Israel manna in the wilderness, and saved Daniel from the lion’s den. It wasn’t much different from what I learned in school about George Washington, the first president of the United States who was known as “The Father of Our Country.” But I never felt that I knew Washington, and neither did I feel that I knew God. But when I surrendered to Yeshua (Jesus), I discovered I could have an intimate friendship with the Creator of the universe. Now I do not just know about God. I know Him personally, and according to Jeremiah 31, the day will come when every Jewish man, woman, and child will know Him in this same way. Paul declares in Romans 11:26-27, “And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” This means that at a set time in history, the descendants of Israel who are living at that time will recognize Jesus as Yeshua, their Messiah. Their sins will be forgiven, and they will realize that Yeshua’s blood cancels their sin forever!
Grafted In The promise of eternal forgiveness was first made to the Children of Israel. Gentiles, then, when they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, are “grafted in” to the promise God
The apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, wrote, “Some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root” (Romans 11:17). And in John 15:5 Yeshua said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.”
Yeshua is the Messiah who fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures. And yet God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son for all who believe, Jew and Gentile alike. As a Jew it makes me sad to see that many Christians have very little understanding of their Jewish roots. But it makes me feel even worse when well-meaning Christians tell me, “Brother, you have become a Christian now—you are no longer a Jew.” No, I am still a Jew. I am a Jew who has embraced Yeshua as his Messiah—but I am still a Jew . . . one who joyfully lives in the daily reality of God’s fulfilled promises and His love.
Reclaiming the Jewishness of Jesus In recent years the Jewish community has begun to reclaim the Jewishness of Jesus. Although this is far from accepting Him as Messiah, Jewish leaders are recognizing that Jesus was a Jew and the importance of that fact. A 2013 Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews1 revealed that 34 percent of Jews think being Jewish is compatible with believing that Jesus is the Messiah, 2 a belief that’s theologically anathema to traditional Judaism. Some Christian leaders are also recognizing that Jesus cannot be separated from His Jewish heritage. In a 2008
(Continued on page 22) Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
PERSPEC TIVE | dr. MICHAEL L. BROWN
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ulius Wellhausen (1844-1918) was a German Bible critic with little sympathy for ancient Judaism. Yet his insights about Jesus have been quoted by many Jewish leaders through the years: “Jesus was not a Christian; he was a Jew. He did not preach a new faith, but taught men to do the will of God; and in his opinion, as also in that of the Jews, the will of God was to be found in the Law of Moses and in other books of Scripture.”
not in the sense of a modern congregational rabbi and not with a formal title).
Jesus not a Christian, but a Jew? Prof. Shaye I. D. Cohen, a Jewish historian who has taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Harvard University, and Brown University, reminds us of just how Jewish Jesus was:
But Jesus-Yeshua was much more than a first-century rabbi. Here are just some of the ways that He stood out.
“Was Jesus a Jew? Of course Jesus was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples—all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogue. He preached from Jewish texts from the Bible. He celebrated the Jewish festivals. He was born, lived, died, taught as a Jew.” According to Prof. Joseph Klausner, Jesus . . . “keeps the ceremonial laws like an observing Jew: he wears ‘fringes’; he goes up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Unleavened Bread, he celebrates the ‘Seder’ [the traditional Passover meal], blesses the bread and the unleavened cakes and breaks them and says the blessing over the wine; he dips the various herbs into the haroseth, drinks the ‘four cups’ of wine [again, referring to the Passover meal] and concludes with the Hallel [a prayer based on the Psalms].”
As a first century rabbi, then, He gathered together a group of disciples (or students; talmidim in Hebrew), instructed His disciples in God’s Word, gave His interpretations, encouraged His disciples to acts of piety and devotion, and made legal pronouncements and settled legal disputes.
Rabbi Jesus reached out to the marginalized and disenfranchised. He was often criticized by the other religious leaders for hanging out in public with “sinners”—including the notoriously corrupt taxcollectors, not to mention prostitutes. But this was an integral part of His mission:
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13).
Rabbi Jesus was a miracle worker like no other. Some of the
miracles of Jesus paralleled that of earlier miracle workers in Israel’s history (like Elisha), placing Him firmly in that tradition of Spirit-empowered holy men. And it is well As for Jesus known that a not being a early rabbis Was Jesus a Jew? Of course Jesus was a few “Christian,” the who were also word was not Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother renowned as coined until in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. miracle workers more than a (in particular, decade after Honi the Circle His death, it occurs just three times in the New Testament Drawer and Hanina ben Dosa). But the scope and nature (Acts 11:26, 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16), and it was not widely of Yeshua’s miracles far exceeded them all—and it is in used as a designation for Jesus’ followers until the second many of those miracle accounts that He is called “Rabbi” century. And from what we can tell, the term “Christian” (see, for example, Mark 10:46-52). was coined by outsiders, possibly as a term of derision, the equivalent of calling followers of Muhammad something Rabbi Jesus pointed to a new like “Muhammadites.” Obviously, Jesus was not a Christian but a Jew. Yet He was more than that. He was also a rabbi (although, to be clear,
and better approach to the Torah. We know, of course, that the Sabbath is of
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P E R S P E C T I V E | r u ss resni k
The Jewish Reclamation of Jesus A
few years ago, Time magazine ran an article on “Ten Ideas That Are Changing the World,” and included “Re-Judaizing Jesus” as one of the ten, highlighting a shift in thinking about Jesus in the Christian world. “The shift came in stages: first a brute acceptance that Jesus was born a Jew and did Jewish things; then admission that he and his interpreter Paul saw themselves as Jews even while founding what 10 JewishVoiceToday.org | 800-299-YESHUA
became another faith; and today, recognition of what the Rev. Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus, calls Jesus’ passionate dedication ‘to Jewish ideas of his day’ on everything from ritual purity to the ideal of the kingdom of God—ideas he rewove but did not abandon.”1
Pope John Paul II, “Whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism.” Numerous Christian thinkers have helped develop this “new idea,” recognizing that, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “Whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism.”2 But Christians aren’t alone in rediscovering the Jewishness of Jesus. This “idea that is changing the world” has its greatest potential for change within the Jewish world, where the reclamation of Jesus, or Yeshua, has been in process for decades. This reclamation includes the scholarly sense that Yeshua must be understood as a Jew within the Jewish world of His day. But at times it has gone much further, to acknowledge the unique impact and genius of Yeshua. At the close of World War II, for example, novelist
Sholem Asch wrote: “No one before him and no one after him has bound our world with the fetters of law, of justice, and of love, and brought it to the feet of the one living Almighty God as effectively as did this personage who came to an Israelite house in Nazareth of Galilee.”3 A generation later, the Orthodox Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide commented on the Sermon on the Mount: “In all this messianic urgency toward the humanization God wills for all the children of Adam and toward the humanization of this earth, in the deathless power of hope that finds in reliance on ‘the above’ the courage to go ‘forward,’ Jesus of Nazareth was ‘the central Jew,’ as Martin Buber called him, the one who spurs us all to emulation.”4 Such quotations could be multiplied many times. Jewish thinkers reclaim Yeshua as a great Jewish teacher and moral example—perhaps the greatest of all—but still fall short of recognizing Him as the Messiah promised in the Hebrew Scriptures. Indeed, Jews sometimes employ the Jewish reclamation of Yeshua to fend off His Messianic claims. They argue that since they’re Jews, they understand Yeshua better than His Christian followers, who “misunderstand” Yeshua when they claim Him as Messiah and Son of God. There is, however, a more profound Jewish reclamation of Yeshua, which also goes back several generations. In the 1880s, for example, an Orthodox rabbi in Hungary, Isaac Lichtenstein, was drawn to a copy of the New Testament that he had confiscated from one of his students thirty years earlier and left in a neglected corner of his study. He opened it and discovered in its pages the promised Messiah. “Now I understood that as the God of our fathers, in bygone days, went before them in a pillar of cloud to show them the right way, so in this, our millennium-night of suffering, all unknown to us, the Messiah himself has gone before us to prepare the way of redemption. . . . From every line of the New Testament, from every word, the Jewish spirit streamed forth: light, life, power, endurance, faith,
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P E R S P E C T I V E | r a b b i it z h a k s h a pir a
recent survey by the Pew Research Center1 suggested that 60 percent of Americans believe that a person cannot be Jewish if he or she believes that Yeshua (the Hebrew name of Jesus) was the Jewish Messiah. To some, these numbers might seem encouraging, as they imply that 40 percent of the Jewish population
sees faith in Jesus as “kosher.” Since nobody contacted me to take part in this survey, I would like to add a few of my thoughts as an Israeli Jew raised in traditional Judaism. In the introduction of The Return of the Kosher Pig 2 , I wrote:
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“I still remember when I was
seven years old; I wanted nothing more than to become a knight with a sword for Purim, my favorite holiday. My dear mother Z”L3 called every clothing store in our local town in Israel to try to find my knight costume. I was very excited when my mother told me to run straight from school to the local pawnshop where my
people, both Jews and Gentiles, knight costume had been found. I My shock was growing. How could it working side by side to become a still remember running there with be? I struggled with this question for Messiah-centered bride. sweat dripping down my face many years of my life. To my shock, from anticipation. When I arrived I found that the earlier followers Strangely, in Judaism, the Messiah at the store, of Yeshua is likened to a pig. What a seemingly the costume challenged the percent of the inappropriate connotation, one was ready idea of Gentiles Jewish population would think, as it represents the sees faith in Jesus for me following this as “kosher.” symbol of uncleanness among our and more Jewish Messiah. people. Why a pig? you might wonder. beautiful How ironic In Hebrew, the word pig, or hazir, than I expected. When the store that two thousand years later we literally means “to return.” Our sages owner told me he had a big ask the question, “How can Jews teach us that the rejected Messiah surprise for me, nothing could choose to follow Jesus?” Something will become pure and clean again to have prepared me for what I felt went horribly wrong in the last two His people. There is no name that is as he handed me the sword and a thousand years as the true and pure hated more than Yeshua’s name, but shield. Messianic Jewish faith was hijacked in fact His name will be brought back by contradictory religious ideas. to the lips of every Jew in exaltation “As I looked at the shield, I could in the days ahead of us. not believe it. The shield was Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin writes: adorned with a cross! When I saw “Christianity hijacked not only So, in conclusion, is Yeshua kosher? the picture of the cross, I began the Old Testament but the New Can a Jew believe in Him? I say, ken to shake from fear and anger. Testament as well by turning that (yes) and amen today! How I look I remember rushing out of the thoroughly Jewish text away from forward to the day of the “Kosher store in tears; I was so upset by its cultural origins . . . . the New Pig’s” return, when all of Israel will be the cross without really knowing Testament is much more deeply saved! or understanding my feelings. embedded within Second Temple Fifteen years later, on Yom Jewish life and thought than many Rabbi Itzhak Shapira was born and raised in Kippur evening, I walked into have imagined.”4 a traditional Sephardic Jewish home in Israel. a Jewish synagogue to hear After years of studying Rabbinic Jewish texts, he the traditional Kol Nidrei Thankfully, the Lord is not finished found the Messiah within the Hebrew writings. with His Beloved People or the prayer. To my shock, instead of Holding full Rabbinic ordination from the IAMCS, Nations! The two events that will mourning, people were exalting he serves as the founding rabbi of Ahavat prompt His return will occur God and calling out the name Ammi Ministries (www.ahavatammi.org), an when the nations will come to the “Yeshua” with voices raised. At international Jewish organization that is focused on reconciliation between Jews and Yeshua. For “fullness” of their understanding, first, I thought that they were more about Rabbi Shapira’s latest book, The as Rabbi Shaul (Apostle Paul) calling out the name “Joshua,” Return of the Kosher Pig: The Divine Messiah in suggested, and when the Jewish but shortly after that, my worst Jewish Thought, visit www.kosherpig.org. People will cry out, “Baruch haba fear was realized. These people b’shem Adonai—Welcome in the were exalting the name of Yeshua Notes name of the Lord!” These two events (Jesus), instead of the God of 1. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewishamerican-beliefs-attitudes-culture-survey/ will not take place sequentially, but Israel.” 2. www.kosherpig.org by Rabbi Itzhak Shapira rather will happen in parallel. The 3. May her memory be blessed. 4. Daniel Boyarin, The Jewish Gospels: The Story of miracle is not merely the return of From an early age, I was the Jewish Christ (NY: The New Press, 2012). our Messiah, but rather His restored programmed to separate Jesus from our “authentic” Judaism. It was the natural thing to do. However, upon opening this magnificent book The Return of the Kosher Pig Far from a study of kosher dietary laws, this book by Rabbi called the Brit HaChadasha (New Itzhak Shapira is an unprecedented journey toward the Testament), I discovered a Jewish true identity of the Divine Messiah, the One previously book with Jewish HaShkafat Olam considered unkosher and unacceptable by Jewish People. (Jewish worldviews) written by good item #9139 | $40.00 GIFT Jewish men mostly for Jewish People!
Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
TE A D P U Y MINISTR
This precious Gefat family in Hosanna, Ethiopia, learns how to use the personal LifeStraw® water filtration devices to enjoy many months of clean water, thanks to Jewish Voice’s Jonathan Bernis. 14 JewishVoiceToday.org | 800-299-YESHUA
The Land of 4,000 Thanks By Judi Clarke
Once we discovered this amazing device for personal water filtratio n, we were happy to freely distribute these at our medical outreaches anytime God gave us the opportunity. This report is from Hosanna, Ethiopia.
“We have never heard any of this information before. Thank you so much!” The older Gefat woman stood up to proc laim her gratitude to JVMI team memb ers in Hosanna, Ethiopia. To us it’s common knowledge that clean water and proper hygiene prevent disease. Yet for the Gefat people of Hosanna, this information was brand new. For four days a JVMI team of six conducted classes, teaching 85-100 people at a time that clea n drinking water prevents waterborne diseases and that clea n hands and face prevent bacterial infections. Four thousand people in those four days were taught the most basic principl es of infectious disease prevention. Four thousand LifeStra ® ws and bars of soap were distributed as well. Clean drinking water is a given here where we live, but it’s a huge gift in many parts of the world—a life-saving gift. It’s hard to even comprehend a life without safe drinking water available at the turn of a tap, yet in poverty stricken Ethiopia, water is always a prob lem. Most of the people we meet have no running water at all and must haul water to their homes from sometimes quite a distance. And while maybe they didn’t know much about waterborne diseases, they know clear water from not-so-c lear water. Everyone wants clean, fresh wate r to drink. “Desperation was the basi c tone of the people,” Linda Gross, a memb er of the teaching team, describe s. “Mor e than once, people thronged, nearly stam peded, the tent where we held clas ses.” Armed now with a LifeStraw®, soap , and new knowledge, these people also received the gift of hope —hope for healthier lives less susc epti ble to the illn esses they so frequently experienced. “As people were leaving each clas s, they wrapped us in warm hugs and kisses,” Lind a states. “There was so much appr eciation.” On the fourth day, as the final clas s was ending, there was a sudden rainstorm, “a deluge,” said Linda. Just as suddenly as it began, the rain stop ped. “As we exited the tent, walking through mud and steaming water, we saw a full rain bow stretching across the sky. The sun made the trees and plants glisten. An amaz ending to an amazing week!” ing
Judi Clarke is a writer for Jewish Voice Ministries with a particu lar passion for missions and showing the love of Yeshua to the impoverished people of Africa. Her husband, Rusty, is a photographer on many of JVMI’s outreaches, and they like to say that together they make “a” photojournalist. LifeStraws® are personal water purification devices design ed to prevent waterborne diseases. Each has the capacity to filter approximat ely 264 gallons of water, affording each user many months of healthy drinking water. Your gift of $60 will provide four Ethiopians with a LifeStraw®. Plus, we will also send you a LifeStraw® of your own to demonstrate your partnership with the life-giving work Jewish Voice does for the Lost Tribes of Israel. item #2050 | $60.00 Gift Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
FA I T H C H R O N I C L E S | S H E L LY & J u ne V O L K
The God Who Answers
Supernaturally While Jewish scholars continue to debate the relevance of Yeshua as a Jewish rabbi, the hearts of some Jewish People are discovering something far more important—that this Jewish rabbi is the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God. We couldn’t finish this edition of Jewish Voice Today without revealing the true faith stories of some of our Messianic friends. We hope their spiritual walk inspires you to pray for your unbelieving Jewish friends and neighbors, because you never know what prayers will be prayed . . . or what prayers God will answer that will change hearts for eternity.
June’s Story: THE GOD WHO ANSWERS BY FIRE
“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The God who answers by fire— He is God.”—1 Kings 18:24
Shelly and I were married in 1963. We were brought up in Jewish homes—our heritage on both sides was Jewish as far back as we knew. Shelly came from an Orthodox background; my family was more conservative. We were born in Brooklyn Jewish Hospital in New York City, as were our three children, Scott, Dean, and Suzi. We had a wonderful life. Shelly was an executive vice president of
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a major stockbrokerage firm and branch manager of an office in New Haven, Connecticut. Shelly’s younger brother, Paul, the youngest instructor of Philosophy at Rutgers University in 1972, relocated to Berkeley, California, with four of his Jewish friends. Within one year, each came to the saving knowledge of Jesus as the Son of God. Paul returned for a visit in August 1973 to tell our family of his
Wedding photo 1963 newfound faith. After dinner at his parents’ home, Paul began to share how he found Jesus. His mother walked out of the house, his father right behind her. Shelly picked Suzi up from her high chair, took Scott and Dean’s hands, spat on the floor, and followed his parents out the door. I thought, Pauly-boy, you’re so confused. I will just sit and listen. Paul read many Scriptures, which had no effect on me until he asked the same question Scott had asked me a few weeks earlier, “Does God exist?” When Scott originally asked, I stared into my dishwater, not knowing how to respond. I finally mustered up enough courage and
said, “Scottie, I don’t think anyone really knows if God exists, but I sure hope He does!” That was also my response to Paul.
can ask God, for so it is written: Anyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Romans 10:13).
Paul asked how I envisioned God. When I responded, he asked if my answer was ‘The Truth’ should every man, woman, and child who ever walked the face of the earth believe that way.
I determined that one day I would ask God if Jesus was His Son. I was assured deep within my heart that if God did exist, the only true God was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That was the God I desired to know.
I responded emphatically, “Of course not!” Paul pointed his finger toward me, and with all authority declared: “June, I know what I believe is right, not only for me, but for every man, woman, and child who has ever walked the face of the earth. If you really want to know the truth, you
That same evening, I had a nightmare and awoke startled. Shelly took my hand and asked if I was okay. I laid back down on my pillow a long while and thought, Why not ask God if Jesus is His Son? I called out, “Father, if You can hear me, please answer me. Was Jesus
Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
Your Son? Father, please. I really want to know.”
that was the only prayer that Jesus ever taught?”
Our window shade near our bed was on fire, yet not consumed! The fire rose to the border of the ceiling and encircled the entire room as I felt an extreme pressure on top of my head.
I wept! I realized that Jesus touched me. Jesus entered me and cleansed my life. Jesus spoke The Lord’s Prayer. I thought, The Father had answered me! I didn’t know the Scripture then as I know now: “No man comes to the Father but by Me.”
I thought, June, this is just your imagination. Something entered within me and cleaned up everything inside of me. Chills went up and down my legs as my tongue began to gyrate up and down uncontrollably. Words proceeded from my mouth that, as a Jewess, I had never heard before. Those words were from Matthew 6:9-13: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom and the power And the glory forever. Amen. That prayer was repeated three times. The third time, it was as if my entire being was praying the prayer as the words proceeded from my mouth. After the prayer was spoken the third time, the pressure left my head and the fire vanished! Something had changed. I was different—I knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus was the Son of God. He was alive! I asked the Lord one more thing that night: Please let Shelly know the truth, for without him, I was nothing. The following morning, as I was making breakfast, Shelly walked into the kitchen. I looked up at him and said carefully, “What Paul told us was true. I called out to God last night and He answered me!” I tried to explain what had happened, but could not repeat the prayer. Shelly pointed his finger at me and said, “June, take two aspirins and go back to bed. When you awake, you will come to your senses.” The following Sunday, Paul came to our home. I explained what had happened to me. He asked, “June, did you know 18 JewishVoiceToday.org | 800-299-YESHUA
That was forty years ago. All the rejection, heartache, and pain from family and friends cannot begin to compare with knowing the Holy One of Israel. All doubts and fears depart when Yeshua (Jesus) comes into your heart. Call out to the Holy One of Israel. He will answer you. Your life will never be the same! Yes, my friends, Jews believe in Jesus . . . for I’m a Jewess and I believe!
JEWISH AND JESUS DON’T GO TOGETHER Nothing upset me more than June telling me that she felt more Jewish because she believed in Jesus! It angered me every time she said it. The evening following June’s prayer releasing me into the Hands of God, I was driving home from work when my car suddenly died. With no mechanical skills, I decided to read the newspaper. It was getting late (there were no cell phones in 1974), so I cried out: “If You’re the God June testifies about and my brother Paul believes in, surely starting my car would be nothing for You!” I put the key in the ignition, turned it slowly, and the car started immediately!
Turn on the Radio About a week later, I was at a local grocery store around midnight buying cold cuts. When I returned to the car, I thought: Okay, maybe You did start my car. If You are really God, I want to turn on the radio—without changing the station—and hear an evangelist! I turned on the radio and Billy Graham was preaching! Coincidence? I was shaken up!
A Wedding With a Blessing Paul was getting married in California and his wedding was going to be in a church. There was no way I was going to watch my brother get married in a church. June felt if we were supposed to be there, God would make ‘the way’ for us; that really irritated me! To complicate matters, my father had phoned discouraging me from going to the wedding, thinking my attendance would only encourage Paul in his newfound faith.
She wept and replied, “If I were well, I would go to Paul’s wedding. You have my blessing.” The wedding was unlike any I had ever attended. The pastor’s wife made Adrienne’s wedding dress; the congregation prepared the food; each table had hand-picked flowers for centerpieces. I was deeply touched by God’s presence. While shopping in a bookstore, June handed me Ben Israel: Odyssey of a Modern Jew by Arthur Katz. She explained the Lord told her that book was for me. I had friends
My mother was scheduled for chemotherapy for a malignant brain tumor at Yale New Haven Hospital, and I was going to see her.
When I turned around, there was my mother in her wheelchair. All I said was, “Mom!”
While reading Ben Israel, something deep within was being touched. Art was Jewish, born in Brooklyn. The Hound of Heaven was after him. I felt the same way. I had to meet this man!
“Catherine,” I said, “get me two tickets!”
Shelly and June Volk with Art Katz I doubted that. However, if Mom named Katz, so what was different gave her blessing, we’d go. about this Katz?
I went into a linen closet, banged my fist on a shelf, and declared: “You’re not God! You could not get me to be alone with my mother!”
The Art of Surprise
My secretary approached me: “Shelly,” she said. “There is a Jewish man coming to New Haven who believes in Jesus. He is the speaker at the Full Gospel Businessmen’s breakfast. His name is Arthur Katz.
June phoned challenging me: “Your mother’s love for Paul is genuine. If she were well, she would be going to Paul’s wedding.”
I was determined to be alone with my mother. I tried every way I knew; her doctor, the chemotherapist, my dad, and her nurse hindered my efforts.
the right flight because it’s such a beautiful day.” I lost control of the car! Flying home, every stewardess was out of sight. I then took note of the stewardesses gathered around Jack Edwards, a daytime TV host. There was my celebrity! Coincidence?
We decided to shorten our vacation and change our flight. I feared flying, and for the first time I seriously prayed: “Lord, You know my fears. If this is the right flight, I want You to have June say, ‘Shelly, I know this is the right flight because it’s such a beautiful day.’ And if You can manage that, I want to see a celebrity on board.” While driving to the airport, June declared: “Shelly, I know this is
Paul wrote a few weeks later giving me Art’s telephone number. Art wanted to meet me! The Hound of Heaven was pursuing me! I dialed Art’s number . . . the phone was ringing . . . “Hello, my name is Shelly Volk. I’m Paul’s brother.” “Hello, brother,” was Art’s response. Why was he calling me brother? I had never met the man. My intention was to ask Art to talk after the meeting. Instead, out of my mouth came, “Art,
(Continued on page 25)
Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
FA I T H C H R O N I C L E S | K E V I N G E O F F R E Y
Jesus Made Me Jewish . . . Again I
grew up in Rockville, Maryland, an upper middle class suburb of Washington, D.C. My father’s parents, the Bergers, hailed from Brooklyn, N.Y., having emigrated as children from Poland before WWII. On the Cohen side, “Potch” (my maternal grandfather, so named by me as a toddler) was an immigrant to the U.S. from Lithuania; and “Mimi,” my maternal grandmother, was born a first-generation
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American Jew. But for all my fully Jewish parents, grandparents, and relatives, Potch alone remained faithful to the synagogue until his dying day. And except for the family Passover seders devoid of God (my father literally took references to God out of the haggadah), and our halfhearted Chanukah hullabaloos, no Jewish heritage was passed down to
me or my sister. No, in our house, being Jewish was incidental, religion was a punch line, and there was no such “thing” as God. In this spiritual void, I spent my teenage years obsessing about the only two things in life that truly mattered: music and girls. Hoping to find otherworldly guidance for pursuits in both of these areas, I at one time dabbled with astrology and tarot cards. Otherwise, my exposure to all things spiritual came through music (of both classical and questionable persuasions) and personal interactions: from the high school choir director who played the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar in class, to the Jewish friend’s father who disputed God’s existence by challenging Him to make a rock so big that He couldn’t move it, to the Christian girl I wasn’t permitted to date until I conned her parents into believing I was a “secret Christian,” and agreed to attend church with their family three times a week. (I can still see her father fervently praying over me.)
When I finally declared to my family that I was now a “born-again Christian,” they were, to say the least, dazed and confused. I still vividly recall the time Mimi and Potch took me out for bagels and lox; and how Potch pleaded with me—tears pouring down his face— “Why?! Why does it have to be
compatible, but scriptural, I started to see how wrong it was to deny or hide my Jewishness, and that I could never truly serve God without fully embracing my lineage and ethnicity. Over the ensuing years, I came to understand how keeping the Torah was not a source of legalism, but of my Jewish identity. I saw how
In our house, being Jewish was incidental, religion was a punch line, and there was no such “thing” as God.
But it wasn’t until 1988 that, through another life-changing relationship, I came into possession of—and actually read for the very first time—a copy of the Scriptures. Up to that point, I had had a vague, ambiguous feeling of God. But when I read the Scriptures, especially James and 1 and 2 Peter, I finally met the One I knew I could no longer live without. I wrote in my journal that November 6, “I think I love Jesus,” and my life has never been the same.
Jesus?! Why couldn’t it be Buddha or something else? Anything. . . but Jesus!” Though Potch never
Kevin, 12, with “Potch” (Sidney Cohen) in 1981
disowned me, I know that I broke his heart. Sadly, he didn’t live to see me make the most unexpected spiritual course correction of my life, one that I think would have been a comfort to his soul. Toward the end of my college days, I read a short, little book by Messianic Jewish author David Stern called Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. Having never before considered that being both Jewish and a Believer in Jesus (“Yeshua!”) were not only
a collective witness of Messiahfollowers who are still identifiable as Jews testifies to the promises and faithfulness of God! Following Yeshua, then, was no longer simply a personal, spiritual pursuit—I was now a member of a God-preserved remnant fulfilling the ancient, collective call of my people: Israel is to be a light to the nations, and a mediator of reconciliation between God and the families of the earth.
Today, the self-centered, selfserving, misled little Jewish boy from Rockville lives on only in my memories, but he reminds me that God can lead even the most pitiful of people through the lies of the world into the truth of His Word. Indeed, what greater purpose in life can any Jew possibly serve than to give himself over to the One who made him a brother of the Messiah, and a testimony of God’s salvation, power, and love for all? Kevin Geoffrey is the principal laborer of Perfect Word Ministries, a Messianic Jewish Equipping Ministry. His latest book is Bearing the Standard: A Rallying Cry to Uphold the Scriptures. Visit www.PerfectWordMinistries.org for more information.
Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
(Continued from page 7) issue of Time magazine, an article appeared entitled, “Ten Ideas That Are Changing the World.” In it, writer David Van Biema introduced two American Protestant leaders—a Methodist New Testament scholar and a pastor of a megachurch—who regard sources like the Mishnah (a collection of early oral interpretations of the Scriptures compiled about 200 A.D. that make up the first section of the Talmud) and Rabbi Akiva (an authority on Jewish tradition who compiled much of the Mishnah and is considered one of the earliest founders of rabbinical Judaism) as vital to understanding history’s best-known Jew: Jesus. Van Biema said that some of today’s Christian seminaries are actually teaching that one cannot understand Jesus outside of the Jewish context: “The shift came in stages, first a brute acceptance that Jesus was born a Jew and did Jewish things; then admission that He and His interpreter Paul saw themselves as Jews even while founding what became another faith. Ideally, the reassessment should increase both JewishChristian amity and Gospel clarity, things that won’t happen if regular Christians feel that in rediscovering Jesus the Jew, they have lost Christ. Yet [the pastor of the megachurch] finds this particular genie so logically powerful that he has no wish to rebottle it. Once in, he says, ‘You’re in deep. You’re hooked. ‘Cause you can’t ever read it the same way again.’”
a rabbi looks at jesus of nazareth With warmth and transparency, Jewish Voice’s own Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Bernis shares a compelling case—with overwhelming evidence that can be traced to the Torah itself—for Jesus as Messiah. And then he provides Christians with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively share Yeshua with their Jewish family and friends in a loving and sensitive way. 240 pages, hardcover. ITEM #9090 | $25.00 GIFT SIGNED COPY | ITEM #9091 | $100.00 GIFT
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It is amazing to discover a trend by both Christians and Jews toward reclaiming the Jewish identity of Jesus, rather than the de-Judaizing of Jesus. While this is still a long way from all Jews embracing Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, it is a start. In the words of songwriter Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changin’.” Notes 1. The Pew Research Center, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans” study, http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewish-american-beliefsattitudes-culture-survey/. 2. Josh Nathan-Kazis, “Boundaries Blur Between Jews and Christians in Shocking Ways,” The Jewish Daily Forward, October 7, 2013, http:// forward.com/articles/184996/boundaries-blur-between-jews-andchristians-in-sho/?p=all#ixzz2jiWIhjnA.
(Continued from page 9) central importance to observant Jews, and it has often been said that, throughout history, Jews didn’t keep the Sabbath as much as the Sabbath kept the Jews. And yet the rabbis developed a massively complex system of Sabbath laws (they are still being refined every year); in contrast, Jesus pointed to a more organic, relational approach. As explained by Messianic Jewish leader Asher Intrater, He summarized His approach to dealing with Sabbath laws in three simple statements: 1. The Sabbath was made for mankind, not mankind for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). 2. The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). 3. It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath (Mark 3:4). His teaching on this subject was miraculous and revolutionary in its simplicity and purity.
Rabbi Jesus was a prophet. The Jewish Gospel
scholar Claude G. Montefiore understood that Jesus spoke as a prophet, contrasting Him with the other rabbis of His era. He wrote that “we do, I think, know enough
about the great Rabbis of the first century A.D. to say that, however fine and noble their teaching may have been or was, it cannot properly be called prophetic. They were not called prophets, and they could not properly have been called so.” But Rabbi Yeshua spoke as a prophet, and this was just another way in which our Messiah was a rabbi like no other. As Montefiore noted: “The combination at least was new: Jesus was teacher, pastor, and prophet in one, and in this combination too lies something of his originality.” Yes, a rabbi like no other! Adapted from The Real Kosher Jesus (Lake Mary, FL: Frontline Books, 2012, and used with permission). Dr. Michael L. Brown is the founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of the daily nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Line of Fire, as well as the host of the Jewish-outreach documentary TV series, Think It Thru, which airs internationally on the INI network. He became a Believer in Jesus in 1971 as a sixteenyear-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation, and cultural revolution. He is widely considered to be the world’s foremost Messianic Jewish apologist. For more, please visit http://askdrbrown.org.
The Real Kosher Jesus
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(Continued from page 11) hope, love, chastity—limitless, indestructible faith in God. . . .”5 Lichtenstein remained a Torahobservant Jew and an Orthodox rabbi for the rest of his life. He embodied a Jewish reclamation of Jesus that went beyond recognizing Him as a great teacher and sage, to recognizing Him as the promised Messiah of Israel. Rabbi Lichtenstein demonstrated that Yeshua’s reclamation of the Jewish People is an even greater idea than the Jewish reclamation of Jesus. Indeed, this is an idea that is changing the world in ways that Time magazine couldn’t imagine. As the rabbi observed more than a hundred years ago, “Messiah himself has gone before us to prepare the way of redemption.” May all Israel respond to this Messiah and walk in the way He has prepared for us, soon and in our days! Notes 1. David Van Biema, “Re-Judaizing Jesus,” Time, March 13, 2008, http://www time.com/time/specials/ 2007 article/0,28804,1720049_1720050_ 1721663,00.html (accessed March 6, 2012). 2. Cited by Pinchas Lapide, The Sermon on the Mount: Utopia or Program for Action? (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1999), 8. 3. Scholem Asch, One Destiny: An Epistle to the Christians (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1945), 5. 4. Lapide, The Sermon on the Mount, 8. 5. R. Isaac Lichtenstein, The Everlasting Jew (Marshfield, MO: Vine of David, 2013), 54.
Russ Resnik is a veteran rabbi, teacher, counselor, and writer who serves as executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC). Russ provides administrative oversight, serves as spokesman to the wider Christian and Jewish communities, and is a rabbi to rabbis within the Messianic Jewish world. He is the author of Gateways to Torah, Creation to Completion: A Guide to Life’s Journey from the Five Books of Moses, and Divine Reversal: The Transforming Ethics of Jesus. Russ and his wife, Jane, have four children and seven grandchildren, and live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he leads Adonai Ro’i chavurah.
Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
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(Continued from page 19) how would you and your family like to stay at our home when you come to New Haven?” I felt like a fisherman wanting to reel those words back into my mouth. Too late. They were out there. Art replied, “I would love to!” At the Saturday morning meeting, Art asked the president of Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association if June and I could sit at the dais table. I now found myself staring out at six-hundred faces smiling at me! I squirmed in my chair, thinking June had me on every prayer list in town. Art shared his testimony. I was unmoved until he concluded his message with these words: “Where are the Pauls and Silases of this city? Where are Jewish men who will trouble the city for God? Where are the men who are not looking for the Man of the Year award, but will take the rewards of Paul and Silas—39 stripes on your back, imprisonment, ultimate death for the sake of the Gospel? If you are such a one, stand to your feet!” I had two thoughts: Art’s my houseguest; I should stand to give credence to his message. But . . . who are Paul and Silas? The Holy Spirit kicked my chair out from under me. I was standing plastered against the wall as June stood beside me! When we returned home Saturday evening from the meeting, June prepared a late-night snack. My father-in-law and Art walked into the kitchen as Art was asking him why Isaiah 53 was not read in synagogues. June had read Isaiah 53 to me many times, wanting to know to whom I thought it was referring. When Art began reading to my father-inlaw, for the first time I realized Isaiah 53 was referring to Jesus. I thought, If I could be alone in the car with Art tomorrow morning, I would give my life to God! That was impossible— or so I thought! We were five in our family; Art was five with his family. That could never happen. Sunday morning I was speechless. Something had happened deep within my soul. June informed me she could not go to church, because she had to prepare for guests coming that afternoon to hear Art speak. I stood by the front door frozen. Art grabbed my arm. “Come on, Shel. Inger is not ready, so we’re going alone.”
Art and I prayed together in the car, and he welcomed me into the Kingdom! I was baptized with June the following day. Nine months later, the Lord spoke with an audible voice commissioning me to be His servant.
Preaching With Paul And Silas For thirty-eight years I have preached the Gospel in many countries and witnessed God transforming the hearts of men. Preaching the Gospel has the same rewards as Paul and Silas, which is a mighty privilege afforded me by God. Jewish and Jesus—Yes, They Go Together Yeshua/Jesus Is The Holy One of Israel Our Father—Our King—Avenu Malkenu June Volk has been a Jewish Believer in Jesus since 1973. In addition to being a loving wife to her husband for fifty years, Pastor Shelly Volk, she is a mother of three married children, and the grandmother of eleven. June’s children, along with their spouses and grandchildren, all live for the Lord. For more about June, visit her website www.junevolk.com. Shelly Volk was called into the ministry in 1975 and served as a leader of Ben Israel Ministries with Art Katz for eight-and-a-half years. In 1985, Shelly and his family came to Phoenix, Arizona, to labor with Jewish Voice Broadcasts (JVB) International. He served as Senior Pastor of Phoenix Messianic Congregation and hosted JVB television and radio programs. In 1987, Shelly was called to pastor a congregation in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and served there for several years. Today Shelly and his wife, June, host a radio program every weekday morning called ‘For Zion’s Sake.’ Shelly’s burden is for the church to return to its biblical roots, become more Kingdom oriented, and to see his Jewish kinsmen come to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
The God Who Answers By Fire
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I was undone! Jewish Voice Today | January/February 2014
A RabbI Looks at the
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