Edited by Ruth Rosen. San Francisco: Purple Pomegranate Productions, 1997. 244 pages. $6.95, paper. Reviewed by Mark A. and Julie C. Wineinger, Davis, CA. Purchase this book online.
It is always exciting to see how God moves in the lives of His people, and this collection of personal stories is no disappointment as it chronicles the lives of ten Jewish physicians in search of personal peace and fulfillment. To their surprise, and at times in spite of their resistance, they find these goals when they accept Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah and Savior.
The personal backgrounds and life situations are remarkably diverse. They include the stories of a flight surgeon who wanted to be a Zen master and the plight of a young woman and her family who faced the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. The book is more than just a collection of testimonies, however. In addition to the physicians’ accounts, we find stories from the other side of the doctor-patient relationship—from Jewish believers who face challenging health-related trials in their own lives. Rounding off the volume, there are reflections from Jews for Jesus staff on the life issues of personal pain and suffering, on the scriptural basis of the Triune God and on how one can be a Jew for Jesus. David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, provides a compelling story of faith that concludes the book. He recounts the biblical narrative of a woman who, after suffering for twelve years under the hands of many physicians, sought healing from the Holy One of Israel. It is a humbling story to read for any physician! This then leads into a personal challenge to consider the Great Physician, Yeshua, as Savior.
Parts one and three, which contain the physicians’ testimonies, provide fascinating accounts of how God can draw people to Himself, usually in spite of themselves. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the security, prosperity and rewards of a medical practice are not enough to supply the inner peace for which these doctors are searching. For instance, Dr. Stephen Schacher, MD, grew up in a Conservative Jewish home but ended up seeking personal fulfillment through Buddhism. In one of the most unique experiences that this reviewer has heard about, he decided to learn about the teachings of Christ while on his way to becoming a Buddhist roshi, or teacher. Since he had heard that to be a Christian one had to accept Jesus as Savior, out of his desire to learn about Jesus, he said a prayer accepting him as Messiah! What began as “a thought experiment” ended with the revelation that Jesus was “the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.” For Dr. Schacher, the meaning of Passover and Yom Kippur came together in the person of Yeshua. As a new believer in Jesus, he understood that he had traded karma for Christ and was now debt-free. He soon found, though, that coming to faith in Yeshua was just the beginning of a new life, for now he had to confront his own prejudices against Christians. After being directed to Jews for Jesus, he was aided in working through these issues and finally experienced his long sought-after peace.
Dr. Vera Schlamm, MD, also grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, but lived under much different circumstances. At the age of fifteen, she and her family fled Germany for Holland after experiencing the terrors of “Kristallnacht.” Then ensued a series of terrifying experiences with the Gestapo and with life in the concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen.…
Somehow, she and her family miraculously survived until they were freed in 1945. Eventually, Dr. Schlamm entered medical school, and it was there that she was first introduced to the concept that Jesus was the Messiah. Her reaction was one of anger at the idea that she could not be godly without Jesus. When she once entered a church, she recited the Sh’ma to make sure God knew that she believed in Him alone and not in three gods. Despite such roadblocks, even the rabbi’s sermons at the Temple—along with passages in the Hebrew Scriptures—made her think about faith in Jesus. Realizing that she did not have to give up her Jewishness to believe in Jesus, she accepted Him as her Savior and experienced the peace she had sought. Now she had to deal with her family’s reactions. Her father, ill with a heart condition, claimed that her new beliefs would bring on his death. Nevertheless, Dr. Schlamm found peace as she brought her fears to the Lord. As it turned out, her father did not die but lived on to also accept the Messiah!
These accounts are only a brief sampling of the exciting stories told in this book. Also included is the narrative of Dr. Jack Sternberg, who was afraid and angry at the thought of losing his sight and his career as a cancer specialist. In his anger, he unknowingly uttered a prayer that God answered. Then there is Daniel Gold, who left society for a treehouse in Hawaii, only to eventually become a physician and believer in Yeshua. This reviewer identified most with Dr. David Madenberg, who became physically and emotionally drained during his demanding residency in emergency medicine. When he came to faith in Yeshua, he was a changed man. His broken marriage was restored, he was healed of his physical problems, and those around him were amazed at the changes in his behavior and attitudes. During this reviewer’s internship, the endless forty-hour days and barrage of seemingly incurable problems made me wonder if I had chosen the right profession. Like many who figure in these stories, when I turned my work and life over to God, there was release from and finally joy in what I was doing. I was now able to do what God intended for me to do—minister to people’s spirits and souls as well as their physical health.
In addition to these stories, five chapters tell of Jewish believers in Jesus who found spiritual help in dealing with the crises of chronic pain, a heart transplant, a child with Down’s syndrome, and the death of a loved one. Yeshua is shown as the Great Physician both for those who give and those who receive medical attention.
This book is appropriate for a wide audience—Jews and Gentiles, believers and non-believers, physicians and patients. A book about Jews becoming believers in Yeshua should address the difficult issues that Jewish people face when considering Jesus as Messiah and Savior. It should also provide encouragement to those who already believe but are dealing with the struggles of faith, not least of which include telling family and friends of the decision and facing personal crises that involve pain, illness, and death. Finally, the book should speak both to inquirers and to believers who want to understand the unique problems and questions Jewish people face when considering Yeshua. This book admirably meets all of those requirements. One suggestion: when you have finished it, why not lend it to your Jewish doctor and ask what he or she thinks?
More about the Book
You will love these first-person accounts of ten Jewish doctors who came to know Jesus as their Messiah, and who are excited for other Jews to hear the gospel as well. The book also includes stories of Jewish people who turned to Jesus during a medical crisis, as well as essays on the problem of pain and suffering and, of course, on why Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Get two
copies, one for you and one for a friend who is not yet a believer.
Dr. Jack Sternberg, oncologist:
“Undaunted, I visited with rabbis, hoping they could show me the fallacies of the case for Jesus….Each effort I made to hear something to dissuade me seemed to strengthen the growing belief that Jesus truly was the Messiah.”
Dr. David Madenberg, emergency room physician:
“All my life I’d been taught that the Messiah of Israel had not yet come….Then a thought crossed my mind: how many of my Jewish friends and relatives have ever read their own Bible for themselves, let alone the New Testament?”
Dr. Peter Greenspan, obstetrician:
“I was doing the right things according to my religion, but none of the law or the minutiae to which I had bound myself brought me closer to God.”