“Are you one of those Jews for Jesus?”

I turned to look at the person who had asked me that almost rhetorical question. After all, I was standing on a busy corner, wearing a t-shirt and jacket, both of which clearly said “Jews for Jesus.” So, naturally I assumed it was a hostile remark. But as I turned, I saw a smiling, middle-aged lady awaiting my reply.

“Yes, I am,” I answered, returning her smile. “Are you a believer in Jesus?”

Well,” she sighed, “I’m trying to be.”

I don’t think I was able to recover quickly enough to keep my eyes from going wide. I asked her what she meant and she said that several years ago her son had “converted” and had been trying to persuade her to become a Baptist.

“I just don’t know,” she continued . “I am trying to understand, but…well…I’m…I’m Jewish, and I can’t give that up.” Boy, was I glad to be able to tell that she didn’t have to divest herself of her Yiddiskeit (Jewishness). I shared wit her that believing in Jesus had actually enhanced my experience as a Jew.

We spoke a while longer and she gave me her name and address, agreeing to meet with me for a Bible study. As she was about to walk away she turned and, smiling, said, “Maybe you’re right. After all, even when my son the Baptist comes home for visit, he always asks for lox and bagels!”