The Friday Evening Service
The Evangelical church in downtown Warsaw was filled with more than 300 people and included Russian Messianic Jews and Polish, primarily Gentile evangelical Christians. It was Erev Shabbat, the evening, which begins the Sabbath. The room was buzzing with expectation and excitement as everyone recognized the historical and monumental importance of this special evening.
The service began with Messianic and traditional Jewish worship music, the lighting of the Sabbath candles, and the Kiddush (the sanctification of the Sabbath which is done through saying special prayers and then eating a piece of special Sabbath bread called challah and the drinking of a cup of the fruit of the vine).
A minister of the church, himself a Polish Messianic Jew, led the service, which usually takes place at the church on Friday evenings. However, this evening was extraordinary as it brought together a large group of Messianic Russian Jews and Polish Gentile Christians. It was a wonderful expression of the unity we have in the Messiah. Of course, the cloud of the Holocaust hung overhead reminding us further of the miraculous nature of this gathering. Forgiveness prevailed as faith and fellowship in the Messiah triumphed over possible anger and resentment as most of the Messianic Jews attending this service had relatives who were killed by the Nazis in various concentration camps dotted throughout Poland.
Poland at the time of the Holocaust housed more than three million Jewish people – the largest Jewish population in the world. Warsaw alone had at least a half million Jewish people. The bleak history of the Jewish people in Poland was all the more reason to rejoice.