We asked you to pray for us over the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), as we hoped to connect with people at our branch events. In a most amazing answer to prayer, one of our branches (location undisclosed to protect the privacy of the synagogue) was invited to participate officially in traditional (non-Messianic) synagogue services.
This synagogue chose to give Jews for Jesus a leading role in their high holiday services.
On Erev Rosh Hashanah (the evening that begins the holiday), around 60 people gathered at the synagogue to usher in the new year. Our team was responsible to coordinate with the police. (Due to rising anti-Semitism, these services were considered a high risk for targeting Jewish people.) We were also checking people in, making sure everyone was registered or had paid,* as well as ushering people to their seats. Finally, we set up the traditional refreshments for people to enjoy after the service.
Our team was even more involved in the synagogue service the following day. Our branch leader helped preside over the service, attended by some 30 people. He read from the haf torah portion (Jeremiah 31, one of the great Messianic prophecies!) and served as the shomer. (The shomer stands by during the Torah readings, correcting any mistakes people might make as they read the Hebrew.)
The grace of God and genuine relationships made it possible
After the service, the synagogue leadership came to a reception hosted in the home of our branch leader and his wife. They mingled with our staff for traditional refreshments for a couple of hours, after which one of the synagogue members who is a professional opera singer regaled everyone with an aria.
The following day, the chazzan (synagogue cantor) wrote to our branch leader:
“Thanks to you our Rosh Hashanah services were a wonder of organization! Everything went perfectly. You sang the Haftarah wonderfully, I really enjoyed it. . . . I can’t wait to hear the book of Jonah!”
Another leader from the synagogue wrote,
“A huge THANK YOU from my husband and I and especially for the beautiful Kiddush-Reception [refreshment time] after the service yesterday! So, the new year has taught us how to share/be together, in the beauty of Kavanah [a mindset of sincerity, especially important for Jewish prayers and rituals] a guiding light for the 12 months to come. We hope that we get a chance to invite you to our table during this season!”
This is the power of partnership: your partnership with us leading to this wonderful partnership with a local synagogue
On Yom Kippur, our team participated in the services throughout the day. In fact, our branch leader led much of the morning service: he chanted the entire Torah portion, as well the book of Jonah. He also led an hour-long traditional prayer for the confession of sins.
At the end of the day, as the Chazzan thanked various people, he said, “Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank [our branch leader] and his team without which none of this would have been possible. They were the heart and soul of these services.” Everyone knew that the chazzan was referring to the leader and team of Jews for Jesus.
This was an utterly unprecedented time of ministry! We praise God for His power and grace, working through the prayers of partners like you, as well as the dedication of a team leader who really gave his all for the Lord, for the gospel, and for the people in the Jewish community that he serves.
*Synagogues do not take offerings; they maintain themselves financially through membership dues and tickets for the High Holidays.
Names are changed to protect privacy.