My story begins three years ago. It was May 2007, and I was in Israel three nights before my flight to America. Five friends and I were getting high, and the police caught us. I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life.
I was born in Israel and come from a religious family. My father is Baal Teshuva (a secular Jewish person who becomes religious) and the rest of my Moroccan Israeli family is Orthodox. I was always the black sheep of the family simply because I didn’t follow the rules of being a “good Jew.”
So as I was getting ready to travel to America from Israel, I was humiliated by getting caught with drugs and I was even more embarrassed for my parents. I am their only son, and I just wanted to make them happy.
It was a miracle that the police let us go so I was still able to fly to America. After a year in California, I moved to New York City and found a job as a mashgiah kashrut (kosher supervisor) even though I never observed the Shabbat (Sabbath). A person with this job has to be orthodox and observe all of the Jewish customs, so I lied to my boss. I needed a job and I needed the money. My real goal was to be a photographer and to get rich.
One day, a guy came in to my restaurant and spoke with me in Hebrew. I was surprised to see that he knew Hebrew, so I asked if he was Jewish. He said no, but he loved Israel. He believed that the Jewish people were incredibly important, and that the Messiah came from Israel. He also told me he was a Christian, but that he wanted to live in Israel. He wanted his kids to speak Hebrew and to serve in the Israeli army.
I was surprised at this man. An American, non-Jewish man who could be rich and live the life I wanted, actually desired to move to Israel. I didn’t understand why. I told him that when Israelis are done with the army, we want to leave Israel. I told him that it was incredible that he wanted to move there even though he was not Jewish and had no family in Israel.
We became good friends and started to hang out. After a while, he invited me to his birthday party. That is where I met my first two Jewish believers, Robin and Naomi. I got to know them a bit and later met another Jewish believer named Ryan at Robin’s Hanukkah party. Ryan began coming to my apartment and we would read the Bible. I had many questions about Yeshua (Jesus) and he would take his time answering them.
As Passover was approaching three months later, my mother and father came to New York to celebrate the holiday with me. I had a huge fight with my mom and she walked out. I found myself sitting on the train on my way to work, closing my eyes, and saying, “God, if you are there, please help me. I’m having such a hard time with my parents; if Yeshua is the Messiah, I will follow him. But please, if he’s not the Messiah, just take all of those people away from me because this is only making me depressed!”
Immediately after I said this to God, my whole body was shaking and I had chills all over. I started to cry and didn’t understand what was happening, but I felt like someone was with me! This was the day I accepted Yeshua into my life!
After a year as a believer, I opened the Bible and found this verse:
For the upright will inhabit the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
and the treacherous will be rooted out of it.
– Proverbs 2:21-22
After reading this, I realized I had to go back to Israel. So I enrolled at Israel College of the Bible in the city of Netanya to start in early 2010. When I originally left Israel, I told my mom that I would only be staying six months in America – and I actually stayed three years. But after finding God and His Messiah, God led me to move back to Israel.
Israel is so beautiful and the word of God is so powerful here. There is no way to describe how amazing God is. Moving from a big city like New York to a small city in Israel as a believer was hard. Living with my non-believing parents is still difficult, but my dad sees the changes in my life, and I am talking with him about God almost every day! He is very interested in knowing about Yeshua. My friends are the same way. They think that I went a little meshugah (crazy) in New York but are open to hear. It can be complicated in a way; a new Israeli believer comes back to the land with a fresh and real faith, but some people can’t seem to understand you. Yet it is still amazing to be a believer in the Land!
Four weeks after I returned to Israel, the students in my Bible college and I went to share the good news with Israelis at the Bombamela festival (a new age festival held during Passover). This is where you see Israelis following after other gods and going after idols! I was so sad when I saw that this was happening in Israel. There were a few religious Jews there who strongly opposed us. Yet I love my people and realize how much they need Yeshua.
Israel is not easy, but I feel safe here because God is protecting us every day. To be on the train and to know that there are so many unsaved Jewish people around me breaks my heart. It makes me feel like I want to stand there and just shout the name of Yeshua to everyone. However, there are also some amazing congregations and many strong believers here. I was surprised to see how many people love Yeshua and have given Him their lives! I’m growing stronger in my faith every day here in Israel. The word of God is real here, and it is almost like living in the book of Acts.
I want everyone to know that we are doing our best to share the Gospel with Israelis, but we always need more people to come help and support us.