On December 8, Susan Perlman hosted a special gathering on behalf of Jews for Jesus in celebration of the new book, Jews and the Gospel at the end of History: A Tribute to Moishe Rosen. It was a time for some of Moishe’s friends to come and visit with him, as well as have him sign their copy of the book. Some 50 people attended.
The new book belongs to a genre known as the Festschrift, meaning festival or feast of writing. Festschrifts are anthologies of articles written by experts in the field(s) to which the person to be honored has made a lifetime of contributions. So the book is not about Moishe; it is about topics that Moishe cares about deeply, such as evangelism, ethics and eschatology (study of end times).
To whet your appetite for this book, you can read the introductory article by Susan Perlman below.
A Tribute to Moishe Rosen
Moishe Rosen’s biography reads like a movie script or perhaps a page out of the Book of Acts. In any case, it is certainly not boring! It is an action-filled drama of faith, triumph, pain and joy.
In 1950, when they were both 18, Moishe married his high school sweetheart, Ceil, who is also Jewish. Three years later, Ceil came to know Jesus and was instrumental in leading her husband to the Lord. And so, at the age of 21, Moishe, the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, gathered his family together to tell them the news: “I’ve been studying the Bible lately and I’ve decided that Jesus is really the Messiah. We’ve all been wrong and I wanted you to know that I’m going to believe in him and follow him and give my life to Him.”
The response that came from his father after hearing that somewhat abrasive announcement was equally jarring: “You can just get out of my house and don’t come back until you’ve given up this Jesus business!”
I recall Moishe once telling me that his father went so far as to tell him that if for some reason they found themselves walking down the same street in Denver where they both resided, he would expect Moishe to cross over to the other side so that he would not have to acknowledge his son’s presence.
The estrangement from his family hurt; however it didn’t deter him from following his destiny. If anything, it brought him closer to his Messiah, who was “despised and rejected” by so many. Moishe immersed himself in the Scriptures, and never wavered from being a forthright teller of the truth of the gospel. He actually came to discover that he loved to tell others about Y’shua. He not only loved sharing his faith, he was truly gifted at witnessing.
In that first year, as he was devouring the Book of Acts for the second time, he read the words “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21) and he knew, as he put it, that it was God’s personal call to him, a message “more real than if I had audibly perceived His voice that God was speaking to me, calling me, telling me, that I was to be a witness to Jews and Gentiles.”
Knowing he needed training to fulfill that call, in 1954 he applied and was enrolled at Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey where he trained for the ministry. After graduation in 1957, he was ordained as a Conservative Baptist.
Moishe served for seventeen years with the American Board of Missions to the Jews. For ten of those years he carried out his missionary assignment in Los Angeles, heading up their work there. It was a fruitful ministry, and he was promoted to the position of director of recruiting and training, which brought him to their New York City headquarters. Though an apparently successful mission executive (it’s been speculated that he was in line to lead that historic Jewish mission), he recognized that he was too far removed from the people he was called to reach. He got out from behind his desk and resolved to, as he put it, “Make myself more vulnerable. Make myself visible. Go where the people were. And tell the message in terms people could understand.”
It was 1969 and God was doing something unusual to reach Jewish people in the United States. And He was about to use Moishe Rosen in some unique ways. Moishe started spending time on the campuses of New York, listening and learning what was on the hearts of young Jewish people and how he might find ways to connect to their spiritual hunger. He even found the anti-war activists to be instructive with the communications methods they used to get their issue heard. It was then that Moishe developed broadside gospel tracts (tens of millions have been distributed) and traded in his black suit and tie for more friendly garb.
But it was in San Francisco, where there were rumblings of a movement of young Jewish people coming to Christ, that he came to see how God was indeed going to use him to impact a whole generation. Moishe visited the Bay Area in 1970 and through a set of circumstances found himself early one morning on a hill overlooking the city. When the fog lifted and the sun came up, it was, as he described it, “as though the buildings of San Francisco were in the sky, above clouds. And because of the reflection of the fog on the buildings, they were illuminated by the sun and completely golden.” He heard from God through that incredible sight and had himself transferred (and demoted) from the New York headquarters to minister to the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Three years later, the Jews for Jesus organization was born. The story of Jews for Jesus has been documented in two books, Jews for Jesus by Moishe Rosen with Bill Proctor (1974) and Not Ashamed: The Story of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Tucker (1999).
Moishe Rosen’s career as a missionary to the Jewish people and mentor to many has been characterized as cutting edge, creative, controversial and consequential in shaping a whole generation of Jewish missionaries who have led tens of thousands of Jews to faith in the Jewish Messiah Y’shua. His vision for Jewish missions has always been larger than just the organization he founded. Moishe Rosen is an innovator of methods and strategies in Jewish evangelism and an appreciator and empowerer whose gifts have been used to lift the Lord high.
For the thirty-seven years I’ve been privileged to know him, I have seen him encourage the development of Jewish gospel music and drama, art and poetry in evangelism. When the Internet was barely being noticed, he was championing the development of a cyber-missionary Jewish evangelism force. Moishe Rosen has instituted educational scholarships for Jewish believers in Jesus, spearheaded graduate education opportunities for missionaries on the field, helped to enable other Jewish ministries, advised countless Messianic leaders and labored tirelessly to see a unified movement proclaiming the light of Messiah to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
In 1986 Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon, recognized his achievements by granting him a Doctor of Divinity degree.
In 1996, at the age of 64, Moishe stepped down as executive director of Jews for Jesus, making way for a younger generation to take the lead. He continues to serve faithfully on the staff of Jews for Jesus as well as on the organization’s Board of Directors. In 1997, he was named “Hero of the Faith” by the denomination that ordained him forty years earlier.
A prolific writer, Moishe has written numerous evangelistic and teaching articles and more than fifty broadsides or gospel pamphlets. He is the author of Sayings of Chairman Moishe (1972), Jews for Jesus (1974), Share the New Life with a Jew (1976), Christ in the Passover (1977), Y’shua:The Jewish Way to Say Jesus (1982), Overture to Armageddon (1990), The Universe is Broken: Who On Earth Can Fix It? (1991), Demystifying Personal Evangelism (1992), Witnessing to Jews (1998) and a revised and expanded Christ in the Passover in 2006.
Those of us who have served with Moishe Rosen are so pleased that this volume has been produced in his honor. It stems from deep respect, gratitude and love for a man who has given much to see our Jewish people come to know our Jewish Messiah.