Seventeen pairs of eyes looked to me to teach them the Hebrew language as I continued the chain of tradition.
I grew up in Argentina, but I felt that I was a member of a worldwide Jewish community. Yet I had a particular perspective of what it meant to be Jewish. I remember as a child helping my family clean up the mud thrown at our house by our neighbors in the name of Christ.” I remember having heard my father tell of fleeing from Rumania to avoid the 25-year draft imposed on Jewish men “because they killed Christ.” I remember my grandfather telling me how he defended his Russian village from the “Christian” plunderers. Yes, I certainly knew what it was to be Jewish—the misery of persecution at the hand of “Christians.”
Yet there was another facet of my Jewish experience. I remember the awe and joy of participating in the holidays and sensing the centuries-old chain of tradition continuing in me. I was awed to be part of an ancient yet continuing people of God, and felt as if I had lived for all 3800 years of Jewish history. Something about me was older than written history—yet as young as a small girl. I was proud to be a Jew in a country where most people were Catholics—proud to cling to my rich heritage in the midst of threats from a hostile surrounding.
It was this desire to identify with my Jewish roots that awoke my interest in the Bible. In the Scriptures, I was faced with the true source of Judaism—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I felt a mystical kinship with this God who had guided my ancestors and set my own destiny in motion. I desired to know Him personally, in the way that the patriarchs knew Him.
As I continued reading the Scriptures, I became convinced that God’s promise to send a Messiah was fulfilled, and that the Messiah was Jesus. Prophecy after prophecy pointed to this fact, and I came to the point where I could no longer deny it.
Yet I looked for a moment at the flow of Jewish history. My people had been tortured and maimed in the name of Christianity. My ancestors had gladly given their lives so that they might not blaspheme the Holy One of Israel. Christianity, filled with its icons and idol worship, was a religion that brought pain and exile to my people. It was out of the question to associate myself with such a faith.
But I looked once more and saw the man Jesus Himself. He claimed only to be the Messiah of Israel. He taught only love for one’s fellow man. And He alone fulfilled the words of Scripture. Jesus, perhaps—but Christianity, no! Yet by believing this, would I be breaking the chain?
I placed my faith in Jesus, not the God of the “Christians” who persecuted the Jews, but the Messiah of Israel, who brought us back to the God of Abraham.