Any casual onlooker can see that at six feet, five inches tall, Liberated Wailing Wall team leader Josh Brodt towers over his teammates. Those who have been around since the 1980s or earlier, however, will inform you that Josh stands out from his peers in a more significant way: he is making Jews for Jesus history as the first member of the Liberated Wailing Wall whose parents also served on the team. This is a milestone in the annals of Messianic music and missions, as those who have known and loved this mobile, evangelistic outreach of Jews for Jesus for the past three decades and more will tell you. As a member of the “next generation” of Jewish believers myself, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and excitement with which Jews for Jesus’ senior staff watches the Liberated Wailing Wall torch officially pass from one generation to the next.
Josh was born outside of Chicago, and grew up in California. He plays guitar and sings tenor. His parents, Victor and Caren Brodt, served with David and Patti Brickner on the Liberated Wailing Wall in 1981- 1982, and as Josh told me, “They were on the very first world tour.” Caren, a Jewish believer, sang soprano. Victor drove the bus and managed the sound equipment.
Josh can hardly remember a time when he was not acquainted with the Liberated Wailing Wall’s music as well as his father’s stories about their adventures “on the road.” When he heard how his dad had been punched in the stomach in South Africa, Josh was deeply impacted. “I thought of the places where Jesus says, ‘Blessed are you when men hate you for my name’s sake.’ I thought, what a privilege to take a punch for Jesus.”
Of course, there were far more pleasant aspects of the tour. His parents told Josh that serving with the Liberated Wailing Wall consisted of “Getting paid for doing what they loved—travel, singing, and witnessing.” Josh, who also enjoys traveling, saw serving with the Liberated Wailing Wall as “a really cool way to put your faith in action” and “an opportunity to change the world.”
Like his parents, Josh has always loved music. “I played my grandpa’s clarinet for a while in middle school, and I liked it a lot, but was frustrated because I wanted to sing. Later, I picked up a guitar.” Music has also played a role in Josh’s spiritual development. “Singing has always been the most intimate way in which I express my relationship with God; you know, the most intimate way in which I communicate with Him.”
Josh was raised in a biblically grounded home. “At around eight years old, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. We sometimes had family Bible studies and we always celebrated Hanukkah and Passover. Dad made sure to point out the significance of the various elements of Passover which are symbolic of Messiah. I knew and enjoyed pretty much all of the Bible stories, but I knew God was perfect and I wanted to be perfect, too. I realized my need for Y’shua. Now my goal is not so much to be perfect, but to let the life of Christ live through me, as He is perfect.”
As the team leader, Josh is responsible for “interacting with other leaders” and ensuring that the team members are cared for physically, emotionally and spiritually. He said, “I did not expect to be selected to be the leader, frankly. I was extremely excited to be considered. I would appreciate prayer as I have the task of being the first impression or face of Jews for Jesus to a lot of people.”
Much about the Liberated Wailing Wall has changed since Josh’s parents were team members, but its central purpose as a distinctly Jewish, mobile, evangelistic music group remains the same. Josh told me, “We want to have the same fervor and passion that my parents had when they were on the team, and with at least the same amount of creativity in approaching our mission. We want to strive to be relevant to the younger generation.”
Josh earned a degree in biblical studies from Life Pacific College, where he played basketball for four years. He served on the Bronx/Westchester team during the New York “Behold Your God” campaign last summer.
MEET THE TEAM
A member of the previous Liberated Wailing Wall team, Dan Herman will play bass and sing tenor with the new team. He was born in Rochester, New York, where he began attending Congregation Shema Yisrael with his parents at the age of four. In 1996, Dan and his sister went to a Christian camp where Dan experienced the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, and received Jesus as Lord over his life.
Dan worked with children with the YMCA while he studied liberal arts at Monroe Community College. He intends to complete his associate’s degree after this tour is over. Dan also served on Shema Yisrael’s worship team.
Michael Chadwick was born in Buffalo, New York, to Jewish parents who divorced when he was very young. This distressed him greatly and affected his perception of himself and others. However, like Dan, Mike was powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit at a summer camp, and at age twelve he received Y’shua as Savior and Lord. Mike also attended Congregation Shema Yisrael in Rochester, where he and Dan knew one another and both played on the worship team.
Mike earned a degree in business administration/marketing from Monroe Community College. He has gone on mission trips to Mexico, Argentina and Hungary. He participated in the Jews for Jesus programs Halutzim in the summer of 2000 and Project Joshua in 2004. He plays piano and sings baritone/bass.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Charity Zaidman was raised in a Jewish Christian home (her parents are both believers and her father is Jewish). Charity has been trusting Jesus since she was four years old. She graduated from Shenandoah Baptist Academy in Cleveland, Tennessee, where she sang in the Shenandoah Baptist Church choir, and was involved in its children’s bus ministry. She sings soprano and enjoys a wide range of musical genres, including classical, jazz, rock, folk and hip hop.
Charity’s older sister, Melissa (now serving in our Rio de Janeiro branch), told her about the positive experiences she had while serving on the Liberated Wailing Wall a couple of terms back. Charity wanted to experience the adventure for herself before enrolling in college.
Amy Beck was born in Pomona, California. Raised in a secular Jewish home, at thirteen Amy had a bat mitzvah at a Conservative Jewish synagogue. It was a cultural rather than spiritual experience for her and she later identified herself as an atheist. However, she continued to seek truth and peace. Christian friends encouraged Amy to read the Gospel of John, and eventually she began secretly praying to God for guidance. Her doubts about who Jesus really was dissolved when she read the opening chapters of Romans at the age of 23.
Amy participated in the San Diego and Phoenix “Behold Your God” campaigns, and has been involved with a Messianic congregation, Beth HaKavod in Wooster, Ohio, as well as Community of Believers Christian Church in Akron, Ohio. She sings soprano.
Born in Westlake, California, Ariel Wasson plays piano and sings alto. She has five younger siblings, and was homeschooled until she graduated from high school this past spring. Ariel led worship for the youth group at Little Tutka Bible Fellowship in Homer, Alaska. Her mother is Jewish, and Ariel was raised in a believing home. She came to faith in Jesus when she was four, and since then has learned a great deal about trusting God, submitting to her parents, and showing compassion to her siblings.
Born in Rutland, Vermont, Morgan grew up in a believing home (her mother is a Jewish believer in Jesus). The summer after her freshman year of college, Morgan worked at Camp-of-the- Woods, a Christian resort. She played in the worship orchestra, and learned how to have a personal relationship with God. She has a passion for sharing the gospel with others, and has learned to wait on the Lord, patiently trusting Him to draw others to Himself.
Morgan graduated from the Eastman School of Music in the spring of 2006 with a degree in clarinet performance and a minor in ethnomusicology. She formed a Klezmer band, “New Kids on the Shtetl,” which played together for four years. Morgan’s clarinet adds much of the Jewish flavor to the Liberated Wailing Wall’s music. When she’s not playing, Morgan sings alto.
Mark Fischer grew up in a Christian home, going to church and Sunday school every week and Vacation Bible School each summer. At 18, Mark received Jesus into his heart. At 31, he rededicated his life to the Lord, and began consistently praying and reading the Bible. A former youth leader at Grace Bible Church in Parachute, Colorado, he will serve as the Liberated Wailing Wall’s bus driver and sound engineer.
Postscript: As an intern at Jews for Jesus’ headquarters in San Francisco this summer, I had a special privilege—living in the Hospitality House with the new Liberated Wailing Wall team. I ate, talked and relaxed with them on a daily basis as they completed their training before going out on the road.
Editor’s note: many thanks to Josh Cohen, who not only contributed this article, but assisted me in editing this newsletter.