By Fran Feldman
The horrifying reality of the Holocaust was not something I had to learn about in books or in movies. It was the moving force that shaped my family’s life.
When my parents and older brother came to America from Europe after World War II, they settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was born a year later and my younger brother came along five years after that. Many of our neighbors had the same background, and the Holocaust was something we all were trying to put behind us.
New Influences in a New World
When my older brother turned thirteen, he attended a Bible study in our neighbor’s home. He soon came to believe what they taught, that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah. When he shared the news with my parents, you could say they were displeased.
Still, my mother agreed to let my brother attend a Messianic congregation and meet other Jewish believers. In time, she became concerned about allowing her son to attend a place that she knew nothing about. So she visited herself, and before long, came to believe through the Scriptures that Yeshua was her Messiah. The Messianic congregation became a way of life for her and her three children. My dad was not very happy about this, but he permitted us to attend.
My Own Choice
Although I went to this congregation for the next five years, I did not believe what they taught. But I still participated, and in my freshman year of college our congregation sent the college age group to Chicago for a retreat. I looked forward to a chance to travel.
I was with a friend that was very zealous. One day, she began to talk with some people on the street about how she had come to have a personal relationship with God. I chimed in, since I had some knowledge of the Bible at this point. My friend asked these people if they would like to pray with us and ask Yeshua to be their Messiah. They said yes. My friend told me to pray with one of the people and she prayed with the other.
Now, this was really funny, me praying with someone to receive the Messiah when I did not believe in him myself. They were so excited after we finished. But then, when I went back to where I was staying that night, I was troubled. I talked to God for the first time. I did not want to be excluded from the joy and peace that these others so evidently enjoyed.
That night, at 19 years of age, I came to believe that Yeshua is the Messiah. I found that from then on, I loved reading about Yeshua and getting to know him. It has always been important to me to maintain my Jewishness. This is who I am and I would never think to distance myself from my history and my heritage.
There’s one more thing. After many years of watching us, my dad also became a believer. He once told me that he never understood why he survived such a terrible time in Europe, until he realized that he had to come to America so that he could meet the Messiah.