As a native New Yorker from Long Island, our Jewish identity and culture were a big part of family life. I went to synagogue, attended Hebrew school, and celebrated the Jewish holidays. Around the age of seven, my best friend Chris (a Gentile) invited me to church with her family – my first exposure to a religion outside of Judaism.
Noticing a Bible on her table one day, I opened it up to a picture of a man. Chris told me, “That’s Jesus; that’s God.” It planted questions in my mind like “why is there one God for the Gentiles and another God for the Jews?” These were questions that I would continue to wrestle with for the next 30 years. After receiving my own Bible from a co-worker years later, I learned that Jesus was Jewish! I began believing His claims, but as a Jewish person, what would that mean? I couldn’t tell my family… couldn’t talk to the rabbi.
One afternoon in the summer of 1996, while eating my lunch in a Manhattan park, I encountered a woman handing out literature wearing a T-shirt that said in bold letters, “Jews for Jesus.” I believe this woman was in the park for me that day. Nici, a young Jewish believer and a volunteer from Namibia in South Africa right out of Bible college, was on a mission trip in New York City participating in a month-long summer witnessing outreach. She dreaded returning to the park that day as she later told me and really didn’t want to go because of the previous rejections and awful stares she had received during the month in that very same place.
After waving her down to get her attention (the shirt was intriguing to me), we talked for a while about God, Jesus, and our Jewish identities. She took my name and number and that’s when I learned of the Jews for Jesus organization and began attending their bible studies.
Several weeks later, during a Jews for Jesus Friday night Shabbat service, I sensed a confirmation that what I had been reading about Jesus all those years was indeed true and prayed to receive Him into my heart. After volunteering with Jews for Jesus for the next three years, I joined the staff in New York where I met my husband Larry, also a Jewish believer in Jesus. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and believing in Him is the most Jewish thing you can do (Romans 1:16)!