Written by Olivier Melnick
“If God exists, He doesn’t need me for anything, and I sure don’t need HIM.”
These were my comments when asked about God as I grew up in Paris, France. As many European, secular Jews born after World War II and raised in the aftermath of the Holocaust, I was not interested in God at all. After all, maybe my mother was right when she claimed that God died in Auschwitz with the six million – including her father.
So, as a result, I grew up culturally Jewish but very secular.
Being French, I am two parts romantic and one part curious. These personality traits found a major focus in 1981, when I met Ellen. My romantic interest in her took on an additional dimension as I embarked on a spiritual quest that was wholly unanticipated.
Written by Jose Abadi
I was born into a traditional, Sephardic Jewish family in South America with roots in Egypt. As a child, I would go to synagogue on the High Holy Days, but I did not pursue Jewish studies.
Anti-Semitism grew worse during World War II, and my resentment of everything Christian increased. Although I didn’t hide being Jewish, I did not reveal it to just anyone.
One day, I met a beautiful young woman named Amanda. We dated, but for a long time I hid my Jewish background from her. As our friendship grew, I agonized about hiding the truth.
Written by Klaudia
When I was a little girl, about 70 years ago, I learned to love the Jewish traditions of my family – singing, praying, and celebrating the holidays. With Communism in power in Russia, however, Jewish traditions were forbidden. I spent most of my life without them, and, as I got older, I found myself missing these Jewish things more and more.
So you can imagine my surprise when, over a year ago, I received a card at my home in southeast Moscow, inviting me to a free program of Jewish music in my neighborhood. I decided to attend, and really enjoyed it. A new congregation in the area had put together the wonderful program, and they said that anyone was welcome to attend their services. The next week, I was there.
Ken and Yolanda are a couple whose married life has taken a number of surprising twists and turns. Married nineteen years with two children, Yolanda was raised in an active Conservative Jewish community, while Ken was raised in a Protestant denomination. At the time of their wedding, Yolanda was a believer in the Messiah for barely a year, and Ken was not particularly interested in any religious faith.
“I was a very young believer when we were married,” admits Yolanda. “I knew that Ken was a moral and upstanding person, and the fact that he didn’t express an interest in spiritual things was not terribly important to me. By then, I had placed my Jewish identity on the back burner. It was there, but I just didn’t know how it fit into my life at the time.”
Daniel Solomon’s early years were shaped by the forces of history. After Daniel’s birth in 1938 in Africa to a secular Jewish family, his family moved to Provence in the south of France before the Second World War. Trapped in Europe by the awful events of the war, the Solomons were later able to return to Africa. After the war, they returned to France, where Daniel grew up.
Longing For Connection
The cultural form of Jewishness in which Daniel had been raised was unsatisfying to him. In 1954, he went on a “Jewish awareness trip” to Israel. Also on the trip was a young woman named Sara who caught his interest. He discovered that she was from Roanne, France, and that the two of them had quite a bit in common.
Larry Feldman was born and raised in a conservative Jewish home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Larry came to faith in 1972 through the witness of his childhood friend, Mark Ellick, another Jewish believer who is on staff with the Mission. Larry attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He also graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Th.M. in Semitic Languages and Old Testament Studies. Larry was elected to the National Dean’s List (a national honors organization), and Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.
Written by Zhava Glaser
I was born and raised in Argentina, which has a large Jewish population. My father had been one of the founders of the synagogue in our suburb of Buenos Aires, and my family members were active in the local Jewish community center. If there was one thing I knew, it was that there were two kinds of people in the world – “us” and “them.” “Us” were the Jews, and “them” was everybody else.
God was always part of my life. My father died when I was three years old, and when I was a little girl, my mom used to tell me that when it rained, it was my father in heaven watering God’s garden, and when it thundered it was my father fixing God’s car.I always felt warm toward God, because I knew my father took good care of Him.
Written by Justin Kron
I think that sometimes people expect a certain plot line for stories like this. How some crisis precipitated a low point that led to a sudden, transforming decision. But the story of my decision to believe that Jesus is the Messiah came in stages; in different ways at different times in my life.
It began in childhood with my parents’ messy divorce. My mother lost custody, although we had regular visits – but the results of the legal battle left her badly depressed. Then one day, while she was riding on a city train in Chicago, she was befriended by someone who would have a profound impact on our lives. Josh Wiggins was an African-American believer and, as he tells it, the Spirit of God simply directed him to speak with the obviously unhappy woman sitting across from him.
Written by Brian Robbins
I had always wanted an intimate connection with God, but never could quite achieve it. Music has always played a very important role in my life. Through participation in All-State chorus in high school, and in the Glee Club and Choir at Amherst, I sang a great deal of Christian music, but I always felt uncomfortable when I sang the name “Jesus.”
While at Amherst, I fell in love with Kim, the Protestant woman who was to become my wife. After a fair amount of discussion, Kim converted to Reform Judaism before we were married.