Celebrate the Feasts, Martha Zimmerman. 1981 Bethany House, 186pp. Paperback.

Christians celebrating Jewish holidays? Amazing, but true! Martha Zimmerman, a gentile Christian, has written a book entitled Celebrate the Feasts. Mrs. Zimmerman has included explanations of Hebrew terms, Scripture references, suggested family activities for various holidays, menus and even recipes! You’ll find it hard to believe that all this has come from a goyisheh kop (gentile mindset). The research Martha Zimmerman has done reflects a level of excellence in understanding our traditions which many Jewish parents would be proud to attain.

What reason could a gentile Christian have for taking so much time to learn how to celebrate Jewish holidays? The Bible instructs the believer to Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV). It is not easy to teach children today about God, when much of what we know of him was recorded millennia ago in Scripture. The author has concluded that if the Bible commands parents to train their children, then the Bible must also provide a workable training manual, a solution to the challenge of relating the past to the present. Enter the feasts of Israel.

God commanded the children of Israel to observe his holy days that we, our children and our children’s children might remember the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who he is and what he has done for us. Mrs. Zimmerman supplements the biblical mandates for the holidays with the warmth of Jewish tradition, as well as her own experiences.

The author explains that through celebration, “Your child can see, hear, smell, taste and feel the Word of God.” She believes that observing the holidays can teach your family that what God did in the past is important now. As the family learns who God is and how he has cared for his people, they will develop a hunger to know him better. Further, family bonds will be strengthened as parents and children enjoy one another in the time set aside especially for them to be together.

If gentile Christians can see the value in celebrating the Jewish holidays, how much more should we Jews? In fact, Celebrate the Feasts is just the sort of book you would expect to find in a Jewish bookstore, with one exception. Interwoven with instructions and explanations of observing the holidays, Mrs. Zimmerman shows that many of them have symbolism which she believes points to Jesus as the promised Messiah. Jewish believers in Jesus will find this book extremely helpful in solving the problem of raising their children as believers in Jesus without depriving them of their Yiddishkeit. Those who are not believers may be curious to see why Christians believe Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel, and why they feel the church should take more of an interest in Jewish things.

Readers of Celebrate the Feasts will see that Martha Zimmerman has “done her homework.” The book begins with a chapter devoted to the Sabbath:

May I encourage you to take the time, if at all possible, to bake your own bread for Sabbath. Traditionally, the mother prays for each member of the family as she stirs the mixture, kneading in her love. Imagine how much better it tastes when you know Mother was praying for you as she worked the bread during the day!

The book provides many such interesting insights as well as practical guidelines to help Jews, Christians or Jewish Christians observe the feasts of Israel.