Just before Passover the Jewish Bulletin mentioned us again in a front-page feature article. The subject was haggadot (service books for the Jewish Passover seder). The owners of all the local Jewish bookstores and other Jewish-owned bookstores were interviewed on the subject.

Just a block away from The Store” is a prominent bookstore called Cody’s. In his interview in the Jewish Bulletin, owner Ira Steingroot boasted that Cody’s had the world’s largest Passover display and the best local haggadah selection. In describing the wide range of their haggadah inventory, he pointed out that they catered to specific groups and even had haggadot for Christians and blacks. He said these helped Christians celebrate the Last Supper and black people see the analogies between black and Jewish slavery experiences. Carrying such a variety was his way of expressing the freedom the holiday meant to him.

Yet with all his freedom of expression, Mr. Steingroot still found one kind of haggadah so objectionable that he would not allow it in his “world’s largest Passover display.” He said he would not handle our Jews for Jesus haggadot because he didn’t like the idea of our using “his” holiday to “proselytize.”

It dawned on me that Mr. Steingroot had just provided the perfect idea for our own holiday window display at “The Store.” We enlarged portions of that Jewish Bulletin article and placed them in our window along with plenty of copies of our two haggadot. Then we added a sign that read: “We Carry The Haggadah That Cody’s Won’t Handle—15% Off!” That attracted many people to our window. They not only noticed the sign, but now they stop and examine our display whenever they pass by.

Many of the neighboring shop owners boarded up their windows against the possibility of street violence as California awaited a second verdict in Los Angeles’ Rodney King trial. Rather than board up our window, however, we decided to use the opportunity to proclaim God’s peace to a troubled society.

We set up a poster based on Amos 5:24 that read, “Let justice roll down like water.” Upon seeing it, one of the potential rioters commented, “Yeah, man, we know who you are. We won’t bust up your window!”

Our window is becoming a “prophetic voice” in the Berkeley community. We’re making progress!


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Stephen Katz | Washington DC

North American Director

Stephen's grandparents immigrated to America from Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, ultimately settling in the Chicago area. As a boy, Stephen enjoyed sports and excelled in school. In his high school years he began to question the values he had been raised with, and instead of focusing on academics, began to spend all his time playing guitar and harmonica. Over the next few years he searched for answers to his many questions about life, eventually becoming a follower of Yeshua. Three weeks after receiving his bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Illinois, he got married and began to work with abused and neglected youth in a residential treatment center in Chicago, which he did for 10 years (taking one year out to live on a kibbutz in Israel). He received his master's degree in social work from the University of Illinois in 1984. He and his young family attended a messianic congregation for 13 years, where Stephen served as the worship leader. In 1989, Stephen began missionary training with Jews for Jesus and now serves as North American Director. For 12 years he oversaw our work in Israel and still continues to be involved with our work there. Laura and he have four children, three of whom are married. He received a master's degree in intercultural and Jewish studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1997. Stephen is known to be a warm-hearted and engaging teacher and a good listener.

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