North American Director
Stephen's grandparents immigrated to America from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, ultimately settling in the Chicago area. As a boy, Stephen enjoyed sports and excelled in school. In his high school years he began to question the values he had been raised with, and instead of focusing on academics, began to spend all his time playing guitar and harmonica. Over the next few years he searched for answers to his many questions about life, eventually becoming a follower of Yeshua. Three weeks after receiving his bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Illinois, he got married and began to work with abused and neglected youth in a residential treatment center in Chicago, which he did for 10 years (taking one year out to live on a kibbutz in Israel). He received his master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois in 1984. He and his young family attended a messianic congregation for 13 years, where Stephen served as the worship leader. In 1989, Stephen began missionary training with Jews for Jesus and now serves as North American Director. For 12 years he oversaw our work in Israel and still continues to be involved with our work there. Laura and he have four children, three of whom are married. He received a master's degree in intercultural and Jewish studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1997. Stephen is known to be a warm-hearted and engaging teacher and a good listener.
Is the made-up holiday Chrismukkah a good idea? Does it meet the needs of kids growing up in mixed marriage homes? The writer suggests there’s a better way.
A quick look at the American holiday Veterans Day and what it has to do with Yeshua of Nazareth. Is there common ground between the soldier who sacrifices his life to save his friends and Jesus’ death?
I recently learned that the meaning of the phrase “Put up or shut up” comes from boxing, when one fighter would challenge another and require him to put up money for a match or stop his fighting words. I’m guessing that’s the same origin for another expression, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
On the eve of Yom HaShoah, an American Jew writes about his family’s fate in the Holocaust.
There I stood, “Super Mordechai,” in my red-dyed long underwear, sporting a cape and a big “M” emblazoned on my thermal undershirt. I’m not sure if the costume shaped my understanding of Purim or vice versa, but for most of my life I have seen Mordechai as the hero of the story.
As we read through the Megillah each year and “booed” at every mention of Haman’s name, it was only natural to cheer each time we heard the name of heroic Mordechai. He had stood up to the evil Haman and resisted compromise out of loyalty to God and loyalty to the Jewish people. He had risked his life for the sake of that loyalty. And he was a strategist, the one calling the shots with his young girl cousin Esther. Mordechai was smart, courageous and strong—what more could a child want in a hero? As a boy it was natural for me to identify with the male protagonist in the story. I didn’t want to be a passive guy—I wanted to be like Mordechai!
But as the years passed, I realized that Mordechai is not the only hero in the story of Purim. Maybe he is not even the main hero. After all, the holiday is not based on “the Book of Mordechai.” So let’s take a look at his cousin, Esther…
Chanukah is about many things, but central to the holiday is how Hashem preserved the Jewish people, both physically and spiritually. Antiochus, returning from Roman humiliation in Egypt and hearing that the Jews in Jerusalem had rebelled against the high priest Menelaus (who pushed for assimilation and collaborated with Antiochus), ordered his troops to crack […]
One thing people might not realize about being a missionary is that it has its seasons—and like most walks of life, it has accompanying ups and downs. For the missionary in training, everything is a combination of nervousness and excitement. But in time, that passes. A sense of confidence and greater trust in the Lord […]
Book Title: The Ezekiel Option Author: Joel C. Rosenberg Date Published: 2006 Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers Genre: 1. Mystery2. Political3. Mystery & Suspence ISBN: 13: 978-1414303437 Reviewer: Stephen Katz The Ezekiel Option ought to have the following warning across its cover: ONCE YOU START THIS BOOK YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PUT IT DOWN. […]
Our month-long Annual New York City Summer Witnessing Campaign begins July 1. In order to help you pray for this month’s campaigners, we thought we’d share reflections from a couple of veteran campaigners. These articles share a vulnerable side of our missionaries that we don’t always portray, because we are not looking to throw a […]
Stephen Katz is currently chief of station of our Jews for Jesus-D.C. branch, having moved to the Washington area two years ago. But for many years he and his family lived in San Francisco, and from that base Stephen wrote the lead articles for Mishpochah Message” and “Havurah.” The Katzes’ journey to find a place […]
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:11-12 The Apostle Paul taught the Ephesians that building up the church […]
Yom Kippur can be somewhat of a conundrum to Jewish believers in Yeshua. Do we fast and confess our sins like the rest of the Jewish community or do we rejoice in the knowledge that we’re forgiven in Messiah? I remember my first Yom Kippur as a new believer. I had received the Lord in […]
The media claim that eight recent terror attacks in the heart of downtown Jerusalem have reduced a bustling economic zone to an economic no-man’s land. On a recent trip to Israel I found a very subdued atmosphere that seemed to confirm that claim. Even Tel Aviv—normally bustling with parties and nightlife on Saturday after sundown—seemed […]
Three congregations stand firmly on the solid rock of God’s Word. The first is the Spit And Be Healed Congregation.” Yeshua healed a blind man by spitting on his eyes, so they base their congregational life on that practice. The second is the “Touch And Be Healed Congregation.” Yeshua often healed people by touching them, […]
This issue of Havurah examines discipleship from many angles. I hope you’ll read all the articles. Yeshua told us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and we need to obey Him. However, our need to be discipled, no matter how long we’ve called on the name of Yeshua as our Messiah, is also important. The saying […]
As Jewish believers, we often encourage Gentile Christians to learn about the Jewish roots of their faith. But could an excessive interest in their Jewish roots be harmful to their spiritual health?
There I stood, “Super Mordechai,” in my red-dyed long underwear, sporting a cape and a big “M” emblazoned on my thermal undershirt. I’m not sure if the costume shaped my understanding of Purim or vice versa, but for most of my life I have seen Mordechai as the hero of the story. As we read […]
Mommy, does Grandma believe in Yeshua? “No, sweetheart, she doesn’t.” “But why not? She’s Jewish, isn’t she?!” All four of our children have initiated conversations much like the one above with my wife or me, and some of you who are parents have told me of similar interactions in your homes. Some messianic kids have […]
I looked out into the congregation and there he was—the man who could have been my father’s double! I tried not to stare at him as I finished my presentation but the resemblance was startling. Strangely, that same week, I saw two more look-alikes” for my unbelieving dad as I continued my speaking tour in […]
Rhetoric was a required course at the University of Illinois at Urbana and I was not a happy camper. As a Jewish kid from Chicago who considered Bob Dylan my idol, I found it difficult to reconcile being a no-name college student when I was certain my destiny was to pursue my music and song-writing […]