I was raised in the Bronx in New York City. Like many other Jewish boys who grew up there, I attended Talmud torah (Hebrew school) every day from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. There I learned Hebrew, Jewish history and Jewish culture, and I was taught the traditions and obligations of being a Jew. My father’s tailor shop was located about two blocks away from my Hebrew school. Di-rectly across the street from my father’s shop was one of the largest churches I had ever seen. I passed by there every day at 6:00 as I walked to my father’s shop after Hebrew school. Then at 7:00 my father and I went home together.
One December as I was walking to my father’s store, I was met with an unusual sight in front of the cathedral. I stopped dead in my tracks. There on the lawn stood three figures of turbaned men, each carrying a box. Nearby there were several life-sized toy animals (cows and goats). There was also a small shed, and in it, two more figures, obviously a mother and father, sat by a little doll that lay in a wooden box filled with hay. Above this entire scene I saw a wooden sign that even a seven-year-old could read. It said, Born is the King of Israel.” I might not have known much when I was seven, but I did know that we Jews were Israel and they, the Gentiles who attended that church, were not. The first thing that came to my mind was, “The people who delivered this stuff went to the wrong address. They should have brought it down the street to the synagogue.”
I ran to my father’s shop as fast as my legs could carry me and yelled, “Daddy, Daddy! Somebody made a big mistake. OUR king is on THEIR lawn!” My father smiled and assured me that there was no mistake. He told me that the baby in the manger didn’t belong in front of the synagogue. That king, he said was not our king. From that point on, I always wondered about this strange, strange thing: that Gentiles would acknowledge the King of Israel and we Jews would not.
Many years passed, and one day I came to believe the Scriptures that manger scene depicted. I trusted in Jesus as my Savior. Then God called me to go and tell my people the good news of the Messiah, the King of Israel. As I am obedient to this calling, it still saddens me every year to think of little Jewish boys running home during this Advent season after viewing such manger scenes who will ask their fathers, as I did long ago, about this strange, strange thing, that our people do not acknowledge that baby who was born the King of Israel.
This is a heavy burden for me and for the rest of us Jews for Jesus. We need your help to reach out with us to our people. We need you to help us to tell them, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” who is not only for the Gentiles but for the Jews as well.