This is part 5 of the 11 part series on the writer’s journey back to Judaism. For the other parts, read this.
Following my big sister, who I idolized, I moved to the south, or as they call it down here “The Bible Belt.” She was going to school to be a chiropractor, and not knowing what to do with myself I tagged along! In the south, I first went back to my liberal ways, perhaps responding to the conservatives around me. I fought for rights for all while serving up lattes at the local coffee shops.
About this time, I started having some health struggles, I didn’t know what was wrong, but I felt very sick all the time. I met someone who was Christian but ironically interested in Judaism. I visited an Orthodox synagogue with them, but everything felt foreign. Stuffing myself in what felt like “job interview” clothes each time I visited made me feel uptight, and my sickness was not going away.
The Christian friend invited me to attend a “messianic synagogue” instead. “Oh no, I cried, I am not going there, no way!!” I had heard these people “steal souls” and were phony hucksters and wanted no part. But, I had to admit, I was curious, and hurting. Somewhat alone in a big city, okay, I would go I decided, but I swore I would not like it!
With a skeptical brow, I entered this congregation. I sneered at all so they knew I was not believing their little farce. I was greeted in quite a friendly way, despite my sneers and relaxed just a little. Dancers came out with flowing “Biblical” gowns swaying to Jewish music. Stars of David were here and there and everywhere. An Ark stood proudly front and center with Hebraic decorations. The “rabbi” came and spoke after long playing Jewish sounding praise songs.
He preached that we had been wrongly told that the New Testament was not a Jewish book, but it is, he insisted. All the writers were Jewish, and especially Jesus, who he called Yeshua, was Jewish too! Were you missing something in your life, the question seemed to be? The answer was to believe in the Jewish messiah “Yeshua!”
I had tried everything I thought. It was true, I was missing something in my life, I felt. Maybe if I just asked them for prayer for my health, I would feel better. I made sure to tell them I did not believe like them. But, I soon would. One week later, I would close my eyes and pray, what is commonly called “the sinner’s prayer,” and “Yeshua” to be my messiah. I was not presented with the trinity or the idea that he was the son of G-d. But rather as a messiah, who would also forgive all my sins, and I had done a few. Especially that time I ruined my sister’s new shirt and hid it in the barbeque. I was told I now would have a relationship with the Father I had never known before. It felt so super spiritual. Like I had been born again!
Everything seemed so Jewish too! I stopped eating pork and my beloved shrimp also to be like my Jewish “messiah.” The key factor was I thought I was accepting true Judaism. Yes, I knew it was not accepted Judaism, but I thought this was the real Biblical path and was excited to tell everyone I knew of my transformation!
I thought I had become real Jew, but I had become something far different, and had yet to realize what I had joined and how far from my people I was moving away . . .
To Be Continued . . .