I was born and raised in Los Angeles. In my sunny southern California” home Jewishness was very important, especially to my grandfather. He was very religious and extremely committed to giving me a thorough Jewish education. Besides my public school attendance, he also enrolled me in Hebrew school.
There I prepared for my bar mitzvah, a confirmation ceremony for Jewish boys when they reach the age of 13. We learned to read and write Hebrew and studied Jewish culture and history, but not the Bible itself. I learned for the first time that not everybody was Jewish. I was taught that we Jews were a minority people, often misunderstood and persecuted. I was encouraged not to become too close to my “Christian” friends, “Christian” meaning anyone who was not Jewish, because if circumstances turned against the Jewish people again, “they” would also turn against me. My wariness of Christians had nothing to do with the gospel itself. I had never even heard the gospel, or met a real Christian who loved Jesus.
I don’t recall ever really thinking about God until my senior year in high school. At that time I developed a profound interest in the study of human behavior and the supernatural. I wanted to know why people behaved the way they did. It seemed only natural that when I got to college I would major in psychology. I quickly became disillusioned, however, as I found that the great psychologists of the past had painted a picture of man in general (and me in particular) that I didn’t want to acknowledge. I had always been taught that people were basically good, but those psychologists taught that man was essentially a barbaric creature, given to tremendous greed and violence, and capable of all manner of perversity. Our outer civilization was only a mask to cover a basically evil and selfish nature. No one was going to tell me I was evil, so I dropped the psychology course. Soon I dropped out of college altogether, feeling very unsatisfied. I was no closer to finding answers to the questions I felt were most important, like “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where do I go when I die?”
I decided to go to work full time and make a lot of money. And I did—go to work, that is. I didn’t make a lot of money. At work I became friends with Mandy. She called herself a “born-again Christian.” Until then, I had thought of born-again Christians as simple-minded people who believed pie-in-the-sky fairy tales, but Mandy was different. She was articulate, intelligent, and genuinely thoughtful. One evening she invited me to church. I respected her too much to say no—and besides, she was pretty.
Church, was different from what I had expected. Instead of a long religious speech, I heard that God loved me, had a purpose for me, and had sent his Son to bring me into a relationship with himself. That was vastly different from anything I had heard about Jesus before, so for the first time I decided to give the message a fair hearing.
Suddenly my spiritual and scientific questions, historical concerns, the purpose for my being, all seemed to find their solution. I learned that the answer was not in a philosophical theory, but in a person, Jesus.
The speaker asked us to respond to his message by asking Jesus to come into our lives. As I prayed, I knew that I had come into a relationship with the God of Israel by believing in the Messiah.
In the six years since I received Yeshua, my problems have not magically disappeared. In fact, I picked up a few, one being my parents’ hurt and disappointment about my faith in Jesus. But I have learned that whatever the circumstance, God is good, and he has the answers!