In the Beginning
I was born into a secular Jewish family. We loosely practiced some of the Jewish traditions, such as Passover, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, and Sukkot. My two brothers and I went to Hebrew school and also attended synagogue from time to time. I had my bar mitzvah at 13. As a sensitive child, I felt connected to the idea of God but never felt Him within the Jewish practices I grew up with. I felt that our “religion,” or our version of it, was dead and dry.
My parents took good care of me and my brothers by providing financial stability and comfortable homes in safe neighborhoods. However, there was a lot of anxiety, frustration, impatience, and fear in my home. Because of this environment, I grew up insecure, with no real spiritual roots or work ethic.
Entering the World of New Age
In college, I enjoyed competitive sports and the arts but was not a great student. I found myself getting frustrated with my inability to succeed scholastically while excelling wonderfully in the performing arts and gymnastics. I constantly felt like I was disappointing my parents because I wasn’t succeeding in the way they wanted me to succeed. After five years of college, I moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a career in the entertainment industry as a singer/songwriter or dancer/choreographer. This was when my insecurity came to a head, as all eyes were on me, testing my ability to handle criticism and continuous rejection.
My insecurity and inability to deal with major challenges led me to New Age spirituality.
Although I was talented, my insecurity and inability to deal with major challenges led me to New Age spirituality, where my journey towards self-awareness and enlightenment began. At that time, I was 23, and New Age spirituality was the best option I had found for finding peace and confidence and attaining a higher level of existence—but with no moral accountability. This was incredibly tempting as I began dabbling in random New Age practices, such as mind-clearing meditation, mantra meditation, and kundalini yoga.
I was also flirting with every woman I was attracted to but had no real desire to truly commit to a relationship. That didn’t matter because I was on my own journey, without a moral compass, and didn’t feel accountable to God, which is the lure of New Age spirituality—essentially, you become God and create whatever spiritual practice and philosophy suits your fancy. It doesn’t even matter if you hurt people along the way because you can justify it as “experience.” I quickly started reading the most recommended “spiritual” books of the time and was mesmerized.
Having adopted some of the ways of Eastern philosophy and meditation and superficial aspects of Buddhism, I quickly became arrogant and smug, as I thought I had the spiritual upper hand on everyone else I came in contact with. My arrogance was mistaken as self-confidence. I even spent a couple of years working for the leader of a small cult who taught me how to meditate more deeply, connect to my own “spirit,” and be more self-aware. My experience with him would come back to haunt me in the future. I felt that I knew things on a deeper level than anyone else and quickly started telling others how to be as deep as I was, not knowing that my recently found practices only provided a temporary mask of self-confidence.
Living in Israel and Meeting Yael
At 24, I decided that it was best for me to leave everything I knew and buy a one-way ticket to Israel. Why Israel? Well, it wasn’t so I could reconnect with my Jewish roots. I simply felt guided, but I thought it was my spirit guide telling me where to go. I spent nine months in Israel learning Hebrew and going through some military training. It was a wonderful experience of self-discovery. This stint was the beginning of an intimate connection with Israel, and I unknowingly had my first major experience of being guided by God.
After returning to the U.S., I continued pursuing a career in the entertainment industry while getting deeper into meditation, mantras, and certain kinds of yoga. I was continuously attracted to Israel, so every time I felt stagnant in my pursuits for fame and success, I went to Israel for a year. This back-and-forth journey continued for about eight years until at age 34 I met my wife, Yael, a native Israeli, whom I married at age 36. It was when I had a business and two children that my “spirituality” began to show its weakness and identity.
Hitting Rock Bottom
My pursuit for spiritual enlightenment and material success was fun during my 20s while I was still relatively young, single, and traveling around the world. As the responsibilities of marriage, fatherhood, and running a business began to pile up and my stress increased, I found myself less and less peaceful. I would then ramp up my inspirational mantra and meditation in an attempt to counteract the weight of family and business life (reality). I even gave an acting career one more go, but it went nowhere.
My mantra changed from I create my own reality to I am so exhausted.
After hitting 40, my mantra changed from “Life is so great,” “I create my own reality,” and “I can attract whatever I want into my life” to “I am so exhausted.” Eventually, the mantra turned into “I am a failure and have no idea what I’m doing anymore.” I was so depressed, frustrated, anxious, and fearful that I began having suicidal thoughts. I knew I would never take my own life because I wasn’t so selfish that I would put my family through that, but I had no will to live. I had gotten to the point where I said, “What’s the use? I have worked so hard, meditated for so long, and worked on my self-development and discipline for 20 years and have nothing to show for it.” I had nothing of significance to pass down to my children. I was a loner amid complex relationships, and my wife was becoming increasingly saddened by my slide into isolation. At age 46, I was completely broken and had hit bottom and was taking my wife and kids with me.
It was in this place of desperation that Jesus began appearing to me, my wife, and our older son (who was nine at the time) at the same time, yet separately. Over the course of a month and a half, Jesus appeared everywhere: in people we met, books that were handed to us, billboards, TV series, stories of radical redemption and healing, and more. We would all have experiences of Jesus and then come home and talk about them. We were suddenly attracted to everything Jesus and felt like we were being brought back to life—me especially.
Yael didn’t know how she could believe in Jesus and still be Jewish.
My wife Yael was mildly resistant because she didn’t know how she could believe in Jesus and still be Jewish. She wanted to maintain her Jewish identity but couldn’t deny how she was feeling. It was when she encountered video testimonies from One for Israel and Jews for Jesus on Jews that came to faith in the Jewish Messiah that she jumped for joy, understanding that she could be Jewish and believe in Jesus and that believing in Jesus was the most Jewish thing we could do. Yael’s mother and father in Israel were outraged when they heard that their daughter had come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. For some time, they barely spoke to her. But then, when Yael went back to Israel to visit with them, her mother took her aside and told her a story about her great-grandfather in Auschwitz.
Yael’s Family Secret
When Yael’s grandmother was a little girl of about seven and living in Europe during World War II, her father was captured by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. She was taken in by a Christian family, who took care of them and hid them from the Nazis. Yael’s grandmother told the woman of the house that she was praying for her father to come back home, and the lady said, “Be sure to pray in Jesus’ name. He will answer your prayer.” So that’s exactly what she did—prayed several times a day in the name of Jesus that her father would come home to her. Just before Allied troops liberated Auschwitz, the Nazis murdered hundreds of Jewish prisoners and dumped their bodies into a mass grave. Yael’s great-grandfather was one of them. But an Allied soldier saw movement in the grave, and Yael’s nearly dead great-grandfather was pulled from the grave and given immediate medical attention. He recovered and was soon back home with his family. For years, Yael’s family had kept the secret that the power of the name of Jesus had brought their loved one back from the grave!
Freedom from Spiritual Oppression
One day, having gone to church to a Bible study on the transfiguration, I came home to tell my wife Yael what I had learned about Jesus being the only one that we should listen to. I then went on to tell her how I was still tormented by thoughts of the spiritual cult leader that I had worked with 20 years earlier. I felt oppressed and anxious and could never really understand why I couldn’t help myself. No matter how hard I tried during those 20 years, I couldn’t shake this oppressive feeling, and felt that if I denied certain internal impulses, something horrible would happen to me. Yael then went on to tell me about a dream she had the previous night in which she saw me as a young child being tormented by a demon and understood that this demon was the one oppressing the cult leader and me. She then pointed to me and said, “That man was oppressed and controlled by a demon and so are you! He is not who he said he was!”
Jesus is the only one I need to listen to.
As soon as she said that, I thought “Jesus is the only one I need to listen to.” I instantly had a clear understanding that Jesus was the only one, and there was no other. I also knew that that understanding didn’t come from my own intellect but from God. At that moment, all my chronic anxiety, depression, fear, and frustration left me. I felt a tangible peace come over me. It was then that I yelled out, “I’m free!! I’m free!” We then dropped to our knees and gave our lives to our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Twenty years of effort to improve myself and feel better were taken care of in one moment by Yeshua.
The Holy Spirit then came into me and I could no longer swear, think lustful thoughts, or listen to the old secular music I liked, and I almost instantly became social. The transformation was so radical that my wife didn’t recognize me and my behavior. She said, “I have my husband back!” and not only that, “I have a new husband!”
Hope for the Future
Since then, I have really wanted to share my experiences with other Jewish people, New Agers, and New Age Jews. I never would have guessed I’d end up here, but now my strongest desires are to study the Bible and tell people what Jesus has done in my and my family’s lives. After all I’ve done and the pain I have caused in the past, receiving God’s grace and mercy is a gift beyond measure. So, now I just want to tell the world how good God is.
We moved our family back to Israel a few years ago, and I now work with Jews for Jesus in Tel Aviv. A big part of my work is in making online videos to help more of my Jewish people understand who Jesus is. My wife, Yael, has continued her career (she trains dogs to detect cancer in humans). And we are happy to be serving God and our people here in our Jewish homeland.
Yeshua really has saved me. He’s restored and renewed my marriage and family life and has given us a hope for the ultimate renewal of life in God. I owe everything to Him!