30 December 2015

Uniting Church, Jesus and Palestinians


A blog written by MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN came across my screen tonight. It's here In this piece Van Der Galien affirms that Jesus was in fact a Jew, and that he was not in modern terms a Palestinian. He even cites Peter Wertheim who as executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry sent a letter asking for help from the Uniting Church, Australia's third largest Protestant denomination. Wertheim is quoted as writing,

"The proposition that Jesus was a Palestinian and that the Palestinian Arab population of today are his “living descendants” is so absurd and offensive that it deserves an immediate and substantive rebuttal."

In response the Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan wrote a general letter to the public saying,
"I would like to assure you and the Jewish community that the Uniting Church does not accept the view that Jesus was Palestinian. We affirm that Jesus and most of his early followers were Jewish. We note that Jesus was born neither in Israel nor in 'Palestine', but in the Roman-occupied province of Judea, and that it is entirely inappropriate for anybody to attempt to claim political capital from the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem to bolster claims of either ‘side’ of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute."

Goodonya Mr McMillan. And good on Mr Wertheim as well. Making sure we remember who Jesus was helps us understand who he continues to be in the present tense, and who he will be in the future.

Van Der Galien's point here is to be noted well. "Palestinians and other fundamentalist Muslims cry racism and can even become aggressive when they're called out for trying to rewrite history." This is happening and has happened for as long as men have been reporting what happened to each other. News gets skewed with bias and partiality. But the Muslim agenda is visible to observers-- they want everyone else back-pedalling from an evangelical stance whether at a university lecture or in public fora in Europe, here in Australia, South Africa or in the US. The misuse of the term "Palestine" is a key element. Consider this.

Before 1948, every Jew born in what we title "Israel" today was a Palestinian. The land was renamed "Palestine" by the Romans in the 2nd Century under Hadrian in order to eradicate any Jewish reference at all. (See this link for more

So a Palestinian was someone from that land mass between Lebanon and Egypt. Before 135 AD (CE), no one had that term applied to them, except the Philistines. And Jesus was definitely not a Philistine.

A major work of Jewish scholarship is the Palestinian Talmud, composed between the 2nd and 5th centuries of this era, long after Jesus lived, died and rose again from the dead. For more, read Talmud and see what they say about Palestine there. Clearly the problem is more than semantic -- some racism is happening as well as nationalism. God help us all.

Explosives and Australia


New Years Eve is just a day away and all eyes will be on Sydney's Harbour Bridge and fireworks extravaganza. Each year the projections climb about the numbers of people who will be watching either or both of the 9 pm or the midnight shows. Another million will be at the foreshore and millions around the country and around the world will see the scenes of fireworks up and down the Parramatta River. It will be a jubilant and festive time.

Today though is Wednesday 30 December and many in Melbourne awoke to news of a tragic explosion near Altona on the Princess Freeway. The news of this explosion is not festive or jubilant at all. Two teenage boys are dead and questions are still flooding in about the causes of the accident. We are up to 256 dead nationally in this holiday period. Hardly a holiday.

That's not all the bad news from Melbourne. In Footscray yesterday a gas tank exploded being carried in the back of a truck and killed the driver which then sent his truck into a number of nearby cars on a suburban street. One witness described the sound like 'a bomb.' The force of the blast took down two live power lines. Police continue the investigation today.

Some explosives are welcome and others are less-so.

When the Jewish people were at Mt Sinai in the days of the prophet and Our Teacher Moses, the scene was one of great fire and quaking earth. We read the following in the book of Deuteronomy
“These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick gloom, with a great voice, and He added no more. He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. and when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. You said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?" (Deuteronomy 5.22-26)

Just like explosions in Australia, the fire of the Word of God and the presence of God is welcome to some and fearful and traumatising to others. What is our response to God's presence with us? What is your response to God coming toward you? His arms are open; His love is toward you.

The book of Hebrews copies and pastes from the same biblical scene above with "our God is a consuming fire." (12.29)He comes to reclaim what is His, sometimes with fire. Will you welcome Him into your life?


Original photo by Bob Mendelsohn on Flickr here

28 December 2015

The coin toss and the captain who chooses


The coin flip at the beginning of overtime in today's New England Patriots vs New York Jets is controversial. Not that the coin landed on its side. The call by special teams captain Matthew Slater #18 may have been the weirdest call in history. I watched the replay several times. Referee Clete Blakeman said after Slater chose 'heads' and it landed 'heads', "You want to kick?" And then the response by Slater was almost parroting. "We want to kick" When Slater argued "We won, don't we get to choose?" it appeared that Slater tried to fix things, but Blakeman wouldn’t let him. The commentators wondered if it was 'muscle memory' as the Patriots often when winning the toss at a game's beginning will choose to defer/ kick and take the kickoff at the 2nd half. This whole ending was odd.

Right now, there is discussion in cricket to scrap the tradition of the coin toss, and when we say 'tradition' we are talking since 1744! Whereas in many sports the toss is often irrelevant, in cricket it often does matter. The pitch deteriorates throughout the five days of a test match, and getting in early is crucial. Unless the pitch is very green, and the conditions are overcast, it's sensible to follow the axiom of WG Grace who said, ‘When you win the toss – bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague – then bat.’

So some situations warrant defence and some offence, and it's up to the captain to decide which way the team should go. This Patriots situation is bizarre with QB Tom Brady with or without a deflated ball ready to go on the sideline. You have to wonder what else took place out in the middle, and maybe the NFL will investigate and let us all know conclusively. You have to wonder if Steve Harvey was on a microphone nearby or Regis Philbin was saying "Is that your final answer?"

Turned out that the coach Bill Belichek had actually wanted Slater to kick if he won the toss.

Still, the coin toss is a random luck-but-also-probability game I've studied for years. After all I used to teach high school mathematics.

So who is the captain in your life? Who helps you make a decision when you have to choose heads or tails? And then when you win the toss, what has the captain told you to choose? Life gives us many choices, in what we will do in time off or when to arrive for a meeting. We have to choose where to attend uni and what career path to take. The captain knows better than we on the team know. And if you know that I'm speaking about Yeshua, the Captain of our Souls, the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the World, then this makes sense. The Greek word for 'captain' is 'strategos' which is used 3 times in the Book of Acts. At times the word indicates a magistrate or a politician. In the modern Hellenic Army, a stratigós is the highest officer rank.

I've been a believer for 40 years and find that a quick check-in at headquarters, with Yeshua my Captain, informs me about life choices, and especially about life mistakes. When I am sent 'on the field' and have to engage with the enemy, if I have my plans set, if my play is determined and I am out to carry out His plans-- life is good.

May I recommend that you personally ask God what His plans are for you, and for your life this week, this year, and resolve to follow Him. He knows the percentages. He has the final answer. Sh'ma... listen to Him!

22 December 2015

Can we say "Christmas"? In public?


I check snopes so often it's not funny. Here's the one I check this time of year from Jewish actor Ben Stein and his confessions for the holidays . He says, "I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are — Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they're slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we're all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year." This is in reaction to the overreaction of so many to the "Christ" references in the holiday celebrated by Christians and with his obvious commitments to the Jewish religion.

Down in Victoria, the education guidelines are hardly clear. In fact the guidelines could have been drawn by a primary school kid with a new crayon. Here is the article by The Age reporter Henrietta Cook . She reports, "State school students can sing Christmas carols in class time, but they can't sing hymns. And honey-dipped apples are allowed for Jewish New Year, but programs that use the Koran and Bible are banned from class time." Sounds as clear as mud.

I have coined the phrase and hashtag #OneWayReligiousTolerance to indicate that as long as something is clearly secular the government will allow it, but once Christianity (and by that I mean personal faith in Jesus as Messiah) is openly shown, the government will seek to disallow it. Sadly.

The other night I watched two different carols singalong shows, one from Sydney's Domain and one from Brisbane. They had no trouble singing "Oh Holy Night", "Hark the herald angels sing", and such great carols of the past with beauty both in stage and voice. And the people seemed to desire and enjoy singing along. After all, these were 'carols' events. And those same events take place in neighbourhoods all over Australia and other countries. Carols in the Parks and Carols in the Church buildings and ... abound just now. They are wonderful events for families and singles, for believers and others to enjoy this festive time of the year. No one is required to attend. No one is required to sing. But the events shouldn't be demeaned to disallow songs with messages that are uncomfortable.

I remember singing sacred music in my public high school, which was 30% Jewish in those days. We sang sacred music because we in the madrigal and concert choirs considered the Jingle Bells playlist to be juvenile and pedestrian. We wanted music with bite and that was entirely sacred. To be fair, "Silent Night" is a bit simple, but our choir director found some significantly tough arrangements for all his own demands. We were better for it; the Christmas concert (Now retitled "Winter" concert) was full of powerful and beautiful music. We had 8 other months of the year to sing secular music. This one was special.

I like the hymns for their poetry. I like the hymns for their focus. Christmas is not only about the season of giving. It's not only about family. It's not just Currier and Ives and snow scenes. It's not just (for us in Australia) barbecues and prawns, beaches and time off work. Christmas is about a Jewish boy born in Bethlehem. It's personal for me. And whether Jesus was even born in December is to me irrelevant. This is as good a time as any to celebrate his birth. And his life. And his mission. And his love.

Sorry if that offends you.
Sorry if I offend you.
Sorry if he offends you.

Christmas is about light bursting into our darkness and bringing hope to the hopeless. Jesus is the glow in the dark reality who loves us and still lives to help us. Find out more here just now. "Born is the King of Israel." Merry Christmas.

19 December 2015

Can an airline really do this?


Apparently this whole thing is legal. I'm shocked. And saddened. It's that Kuwait Airlines will not allow people of a country they don't like fly on their airplanes.
What? This sounds like something from another era, but not in 2015. But read this article from the New York Post here

Yes, the airlines which now no person of good will should ever fly, has admitted that Israelis cannot fly on their planes. How dare they!

This from Wikipedia
"Kuwait Airlines was accused of discriminating against holders of Israeli passports, for refusing in 2013 and 2014 to sell tickets from New York to London to people holding such passports.

In response, Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with five other USA senators, wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in May 2015 urging him to investigate the allegations. In October 2015, at the conclusion of an investigation, the US Department of Transportation issued Kuwait Airways an order to “cease and desist from refusing to transport Israeli citizens between the U.S. and any third country where they are allowed to disembark”

Additionally, New York City Council member Rory Lancman asked the Port Authority of New York, which operates JFK Airport, to "terminate the airline’s lease if it doesn’t immediately change its policy". For its part, the airline said that it is in compliance with Kuwaiti Law which prohibits the company from entering "into an agreement, personally or indirectly, with entities or persons residing in Israel, or with Israeli citizenship.”

I'm disgusted. And shocked. And grateful to my friend Debra in the US who sent me the link. I echo the words of the Jewish prophet Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." (Amos 5.24)

18 December 2015

'Twas the Friday before Christmas... (around the JFJ Book Shop)


With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore: (And with 18% off all day Friday in mind)

'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the shop
all the creatures were stirring, especially Bob.
The stock list was read by the staff with great care,
in hopes that the customers soon would be there.


The children were nestled all snug in their prams,
while mothers drank lattes swirled in cups in their hands.
And James with his coffee, and I at the till,
had just settled the latest purchaser's bill.

"Now Rosen! Now Brickner!
Now, Levitt and Mike Brown!
On, Rosenthal, Cahn And Edersheim's down!
To the cards and DVDs!
To the music on the wall!
Now sale away! Sale away!
The [18% off] sale's on for you all!"

We spoke out The Word, this is truly our work,
and filled all the orders, then turned with a jerk.
And prayed up to Heaven, sweet smell in God's nose,
and giving His nod, in a moment we rose.

We sprang to our friends, the whole team gave a whistle,
Craig wondered aloud, "What the heck is a thistle?"
But we each could exclaim, at the end of the day,
"Remember Yeshua, He's the Truth, The Life, The Way!"

15 December 2015

18% off SALE FRIDAY


This may seem an odd blog, but we want to let you know that THIS FRIDAY, 18 December in Sydney at our book shop, we are selling EVERYthing in the shop at 18% off. 18 on 18
The address is 257 Oxford Street, across the street from where we used to be for 9 years, and where we have been for 18 months already. We are 100 metres from the BEACH end of Westfield and if you take the bus or train, we are less than 5 minutes from the Bondi Junction interchange.
We open at 7 am and close at 5:30 pm this week... see you for GREAT deals all day. This includes books by Fruchtenbaum and Katz, Rosen and Brickner, while supplies last. Jewish holidays, the Feasts of the Lord, books on Israel and the Holocaust, even classical Hebrew studies.

Also every candle and oil, all the CDs and DVDs, EVERYTHING is on sale. We welcome you and your mates. Tis the season to buy gifts; why not get a godly gift to give? Y tenemos libros y discos en español también!

12 December 2015

On the 6th day of Hanukkah...


We are more than halfway through the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and maybe this Vox Pop with Jewish people from a few years ago says what you think about the holiday. YouTube 2009. But then maybe it's more about sitting at a table and eating like some think on this one from THIS year says it better VoxPop2015 .

But then again, it's possible that you haven't really pondered the real story of Hanukkah. This quick synopsis might help.

Jews were not very significant in the world of 168 BCE and the real powers in the Middle East were the Syrian/Greeks and the Egyptians. They used what we call Israel as a venue for fighting. Who wants to fight in their own backyard? The Syrians were the dominant force. One day they came into Jerusalem and desecrated the Jewish Holy Temple with idols set up to the Seleucid king Antiochus IV and also with sacrificing of a pig. Doubly bad! Judah Maccabee and his little family stood up and asked for volunteers to withstand the Greeks and to wage war. Miracle of miracles, after a three-year war, the Jewish people won, pushing out the enemies from the Holy City and cleansed the Temple. They dedicated it back to God. The Hebrew word for "dedication" is Hanukkah. That's the story. Almost like David vs Goliath. The few withstood evil and God helped them succeed. A great miracle happened there. The miracle of Jewish survival. Thanks be to God.

So the question arises in many-- what about the story of the lights and oil that lasted 8 days.

Some easy to read simple information all in one place on Judaism 101 is here

So I really want to know, what does Hanukkah mean to you? And what great miracle happened to you?

09 December 2015

Who are Messianic Jews?


In the wake of the tragic shooting in San Bernardino, literally thousands of articles have emerged about one of the victims, Nicholas Thalasinos. Those reports have identified Thalasinos as a Messianic Jew. They also say that he got into heated discussions about the nature of Islam with co-worker Syed Farook, who authorities say carried out the attack along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik.

New York Daily News columnist Linda Stasi is now saying that Thalasinos shares the blame for the attack because of strongly-worded posts on his Facebook page.

In a balanced and informative article today, Jewish Telegraphic Agency [JTA] writer Uriel Heilman noted that Thalasinos was actually a “Gentile supporter of Israel.” He noted that “Thalasinos apparently identified as a messianic Jew, but not as Jewish.” As recently as September, Thalasinos wrote to a friend, “As a gentile who loves HaShem, I know my place is to support Israel and the Jewish people.”

We mourn the death of all fourteen victims. As to Stasi’s charges, we think this is a time for empathy and prayer, not accusations. As one commentator noted, “Speech is speech and bullets are bullets.”

In his otherwise accurate piece for JTA, Heilman had written, “One of the best-known messianic missionary groups, Jews for Jesus, actually is comprised in large part by Christians.” Our spokesperson, Susan Perlman, responded to Heilman, stating, in part, “Those who call themselves Jews for Jesus, whether on our staff (we employ about 250 people worldwide) or those who identify with us, are Jewish and at some point decided to follow Jesus as the Messiah of Israel. So your phrase ‘Jews for Jesus actually is comprised in large part by [Gentile] Christians,’ would give the impression that Jews for Jesus are not Jews, which we would disagree with strongly. . . . I’d be happy to have a more in-depth discussion on the matter if you’d like.”

Although Heilman declined Susan’s invitation for further discussion, he did delete the line about Jews for Jesus.

So who are Messianic Jews? They are Jewish people, like Susan, and like me, who have found the Jewish messiah, foretold by Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures. His name is Yeshua (Some call him in English "Jesus"). Gentiles who identify with us, are welcome into the community of faith as co-heirs of eternal life. God is an equal opportunity saviour. That Thalasinos came along and wore a prayer shawl, observed some biblical laws, and stood for Israel's right to exist, are all decent things. They as has been noted, do not make him Jewish. So by definition he cannot be a Messianic Jew. He is as many titled themselves, a "Messianic Gentile." Hope that sets the record straight.

Now the question for you who are reading this... who do you think Jesus is?

05 December 2015

Rabbi Heir and Jesus...which one is true?


I've been watching YouTube videos for the last few days, not trolling, but amazed at what my computer recommends for me to see. On Larry King Live, a CNN TV interview show, Larry often entered religious considerations and especially the "who goes to heaven" debate. On this episode Larry King is interviewing several religionists including Rabbi Marvin Heir, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Larry at the 35 minute mark asks Rabbi Heir who he thinks Jesus is. The rabbi's answer is fascinating.

Larry: "How do you view Jesus, rabbi?"
Heir: "I would say that Jesus was a great teacher. I do not believe that he was divine. I do not believe that he was the son of God."

Here's a problem, Rabbi Heir. The 'great teacher' actually taught that he was divine and that he was the Son of God. So here's the rub... can a man be a great teacher and a liar? Can a man be considered great and fool billions of people over centuries? If Jesus is not the divine Son of God, then his claim is false and he cannot be great, or a great teacher. Can he? So, who will you believe? Jesus or Rabbi Heir? The choice is yours, of course.

What did Jesus teach about himself? First, Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God. As a result, some Jewish leaders tried to kill Him because in “calling God his own Father, [Jesus was] making himself equal with God” (John 5:18). In John 8:58 Jesus went so far as to use the very words by which God revealed Himself to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). To the Jews this was the epitome of blasphemy, for they knew that in doing so Jesus was clearly claiming to be God. On yet another occasion, Jesus explicitly told the Jews: "‘I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God’ "(John 10:30–33).

Furthermore, Jesus made an unmistakable claim to deity before the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin. Caiaphas the high priest asked Him: “‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven’” (Mark 14:61–62). Some today may well have missed the meaning of Jesus’ words. Caiaphas and the council, however, did not. They knew that in saying he was “the Son of Man” who would come “on the clouds of heaven” he was making an overt reference to the Son of Man in Daniel’s prophecy (Chapter 7:13–14). In doing so, He was not only claiming to be the preexistent Sovereign of the universe but prophesying that He would vindicate His claim by judging the very court that was now condemning Him. Moreover, by combining Daniel’s prophecy with David’s proclamation in Psalm 110, Jesus was claiming that He would sit upon the throne of Israel’s God and share God’s very glory. To students of the Old Testament this was the height of “blasphemy,” thus “they all condemned him as worthy of death” (Mark 14:64–65).

Finally, Jesus claimed to possess the very attributes of God. For example, He claimed omniscience by telling Peter, “This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (Matthew 26:34); declared omnipotence by not only resurrecting Lazarus (John 11:43) but by raising Himself from the dead (John 2:19); and professed omnipresence by promising that He would be with His disciples “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Not only so, but Jesus said to the paralytic in Luke 5:20, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” In doing so, He claimed a prerogative reserved for God alone. In addition, when Thomas worshiped Jesus saying “My Lord and my God!” (John20:28), Jesus responded with commendation rather than condemnation. He allowed the cry of "Lord" said of himself and didn't shrink from receiving praise. Only God can do that.

So I say all this to agree in part with Rabbi Heir and to remind you, Jesus is a great teacher. And part of his teaching is that He is the Messiah, the Lord, the Divine One, the only One who can give you eternal life. He longs to forgive you. He longs to give you life. Receive Him as your Saviour today.

04 December 2015

Is it time to share what I believe?


One reader asks, “You want me to talk to Mr. Goldberg….about Jesus? And during Christmas?”

Answer:
In October, Myer and David Jones began to feature Santa themes throughout their stores. It’s hard to miss the rush of the silly season and the requisite purchasing. Holidays in view are Hanukkah, Deepavali, and Christmas, each of which reminds us to spend so that people can be fulfilled. The madness compounds and money tightens whilst wallets splurge. All to say—capitalism rages.

150 years ago Christmas was a quiet holiday without all the spending. Similarly, Hanukkah was a very minor holiday for Jewish people. The holiday celebrates the military victory of the few (the Maccabees) over the Syrian-Greeks and their leader Antiochus Epiphanes in 165 BCE. There is a legend of a small amount of holy oil lasting eight times its usual, lasting long enough to allow a new batch to be produced before it ran out. Hanukkah means “dedication” and represents the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. The holiday was celebrated by Jesus (John 10.22ff). But throughout history, Hanukkah was fairly insignificant. Only since Santa Claus got his red suit (thanks Coca Cola) did both holidays rise in public notice and capitalistic urges.

Behind the spending is a vacuous desire for meaning. If I spend enough for my wife, she will find pleasure. If I buy that game for my child, she will appreciate me and it will be a meaningful Christmas for her. The rants of “not enough” are embarrassing when overheard by neighbours or at the toy stores. The search for appreciation is often unmet at holiday times.

I believe that this is accentuated during Hanukkah (this year 7-15 December) as Jewish people traditionally give a present each day to their children over the 8 nights. Back in the 1800s the presents would have been very small, even as many Aussies will remember only an orange in their stocking on Christmas. But those times are long past.

However the desire for meaning is not past. This season, as people march to the mall, this longing actually increases. That’s why I believe this is a crucial time to share what we believe with people, especially Jewish people. For them at this time, family times are most significant. The problem is families continue to splinter and are harder to maintain. So the longing for meaning and relationships is increasing as other options weaken.

“What!” you say. “How am I supposed to add one more duty/activity to my already frenetic schedule during this time?” Or as one person was bothered and wrote me, “You want me to talk to Mr. Goldberg….about Jesus? And during Christmas?”

The short answer is yes, even as the financial folks often remind us to buy stocks and shares when they are lowly valued. Sociologists remind us, “If you want to get a job done, ask a busy person.” So during this season of our own frenzy, I’m hopeful to give you yet one more assignment. Let’s consider how to get this done.

The most obvious and first thing to put on your Action List is to pray for Mr Goldberg (or Mrs Cohen or Dr Schwartz or…) for them to find real meaning this Hanukkah in Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus). Pray daily as you pray for others to discover eternity in Messiah. Next and I think equally obvious is to send them a greeting card and by send I mean in the post! The abundance of emails and Facebook messages are so ubiquitous that they almost devalue. But a letter in the postbox is so unusual in these days that they stand out that much more.

Gospel literature abounds for Jewish people. In our book shop in Bondi Junction (all products are online at www.jewsforjesus.org.au/catalog) you could find a gift of a book, Hanukkah menorah (and/or commensurate box of 44 candles), fragrant anointing oil, CD of music or DVD… almost anything you send them will be very appreciated. A fruit basket or flower arrangement is a nice touch if they are welcoming family to their places, too. But remember, their meaning (and yours) is not wrapped up in a present, but in the Gospel of Messiah Yeshua. That said, don’t send a Bible to your Jewish mate.

How then do I bring up the topic of Jesus? I think the best way to speak with Jewish people is to speak from the position of mateship. Usually friends can speak to friends on a different level than others. Purpose therefore to speak to your friend in a direct manner. Don’t dance around the issue; be direct. Jewish people like direct approaches. But use questions, not answers, to guide the conversation. Something like, “Who do you think Jesus is?” or “Will you be celebrating Hanukkah this year? Did you know Jesus celebrated that also?”

The natural conversation which follows will allow you to share what you believe depending on what they answer. Keep praying. Keep witnessing, after all, Jesus didn’t say “Go into all the world and live your life nicely in front of people so they will ask you questions.” He said to go and proclaim. He will use your style, your language, your capacity… and your prayers and courage. And now is a great time of year to give it a go. God lead you well.