Is Donald Duck a Jew for Jesus?
The things Goldstein gets me into! My friend Baruch Goldstein is a good missionary and a very competent leader at our New York branch of Jews for Jesus, but every now and then he gets some crazy ideas. I love Baruch’s sense of humor, but sometimes his fixation” on gorillas and gorilla jokes isn’t funny to me—like the time he wanted to hand out broadsides during the summer witnessing campaign in a gorilla suit.
“Fine,” I said. “You go out in the July heat and pass out tracts while you’re wearing a rug. You won’t pass out tracts for long; you’ll just pass out!”
But what can you do when you and your friend are both “fanatics” for the Lord, and your friend has a dream he must fulfill? You go along with him. And that’s what I said I was willing to do for Baruch—just go along.
So the next thing I know, Baruch is walking into our New York office with a great big bag and a grin to match. He starts to pull out this hairy gorilla costume, and I can see by the look on his face that his “life-long dream” is about to become reality. He is positively ecstatic!
Then he reaches further down into the bag and pulls out another costume. It’s a Donald Duck suit. He looks at me, and his grin gets even bigger. “What’s that?” I bleat, like a sheep about to be led off to the slaughter. “That’s for you,” says Baruch in an all too matter-of-fact tone. Oy! What some of us will do for friendship’s sake!
Looking back, I must say that it really was fun to walk around Manhattan wearing a Donald Duck suit. But the best part of it all was watching the faces of the people as they took broadsides from the duck and the gorilla. I really did feel sympathy for one father who had to answer his little boy’s question: “Hey Dad, is Donald Duck a Jew for Jesus?”
So there we were right out in front of the New York City public library—two Jews named Goldstein and Zaretsky, wearing a gorilla suit and a Donald Duck costume and handing out gospel literature. Sounds crazy, right? Sometimes “crazy” is very effective.
Let me tell you that between the two of us, we distributed more than 1400 broadsides in a little less than two hours on the street. Better yet, 15 people came over to our companion who was carrying a clipboard and sign that read: “Free literature from Jews for Jesus.” They left their names and addresses with him so that we could contact them later and tell them more about the Messiah.
Sometimes being a “religious fanatic” can be fun. Just be careful whom you choose for your friends. There’s no telling what some people can dream up. But then again, I must say that I have never had so much fun handing out broadsides in New York City!
Tuvya Zaretsky is one of the founders of the Jews for Jesus ministry. He was the first field missionary beginning his service in February 1974. Tuvya continues to serve the Lord, now as the Director of Staff Development internationally, based out of the Los Angeles office. He also chairs the Board for the Jews for Jesus branch in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tuvya was raised in Northern California in the institutions of American Judaism. During his bar mitzvah at age thirteen, Tuvya read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and declared with the prophet, Hineni-Here I am, send me!" However, his search for God and spiritual truth didn't come into focus until ten years later, when a Christian colleague encouraged him to seek God in the pursuit of truth. Tuvya came to believe in Y'shua (Jesus) on December 7, 1970. Ever since, he has been joyfully saying to God, "Hineni-Here am I." The full story is available by that title, in a booklet form here. Tuvya has provided the leadership of Jews for Jesus branches and evangelistic campaigns in major cities of the US and in Israel. He headed up the Las Vegas Behold Your God (BYG) campaign in 2005 and co-led the 2006 BYG outreach in New Jersey. He is now also an administrator for the website www.JewishGentileCouples.com. In April, 1989, Zaretsky was present at the Willowbank Consultation on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish people, that produced the watershed Willowbank Declaration. Tuvya has presented missiology papers at the Evangelical Theological Society, the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) and at the Global Diaspora Missiology Consultation in 2006. He currently serves as president for the International Coordinating Committee of the Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism, a networking body of Jewish mission agencies. He was editor of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 60, Jewish Evangelism" A Call to the Church in 2004. He was a contributing author of Israel the Land and People edited by H. Wayne House (Kregel Publishers, 1998). His doctoral dissertation, co-authored with Dr. Enoch Wan, was published as Jewish-Gentile Couples: Trends, Challenges and Hopes (William Carey Library Publishers, 2004). He authored or edited articles for the June 2006 issue of MISHKAN themed, "The Gospel and Jewish-Gentile Couples" (Jerusalem) . And in 2008 he was coordinator and contributor for the World Evangelical Alliance Consultation that produced "The Berlin Declaration on the Uniqueness of Christ and Jewish Evangelism in Europe Today". In 2013 Zaretsky was appointed to serve as the Senior Associate for Jewish Evangelism by the International Lausanne Movement. Tuvya has an M.A. in Missiology concentrating in Judaic Studies from Fuller Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies and the Doctor of Missiology degree from the Division of Intercultural Studies at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is married to Ellen, who is also a Jewish Believer in Jesus. They have three young adult children: Jesse, Abbie and Kaile.