A Chanukah Story

In a recent Shabbat encouragement about Bob Dylan, I brought to your attention our own Rob Berkowitz’s accomplishment as winner of a piano competition this summer in San Diego, as a result of which he will be playing a Felix Mendelssohn piece with the California Chamber Orchestra next spring in Temecula, CA. The point of the connection was that as more Jewish believers in Yeshua (Dylan) and composers (Mendelssohn) ( and Rob!!) become prominent in media coverage and consciousness is raised, Messianic Judaism will not seem so foreign, thus helping our relationship with our mainstream Jewish brothers and sisters to become normalized.

The story of Rob Berkowitz’s piano talent journey has only become more amazing as the months have transpired. And I am inviting him to add even more fascinating information through our Ruach Israel website which posts this encouragement as a blog. But just to tease you with the basics:

A famous Berlin born Hungarian composer/pianist Lajos Delej was courting Rob’s mother until she was sent to Auschwitz and he to Buchenwald. Unfortunately, Delej did not survive the concentration camp. Rob’s mother later married and had Rob who as a child was fascinated with and inspired by the life of Delej and his works, so much so, that last spring Rob played the world premiere of Delej’s “Three Pieces” at the New England Conservatory. In July at a piano competition “coincidentally” in San Diego on the very weekend Rob was to be there anyway to celebrate his mother’s 94th birthday, Rob won First Prize playing as part of his performances this Delej work. As a result of this accomplishment, Rob will be playing a Felix Mendelssohn piece with the California Chamber Orchestra next April.

Although Delej was silenced so young, his works live on in Rob’s artful performances. And the hope I offered up a couple months ago would be that somehow media coverage of the story of our Messianic Jew playing another Messianic Jew’s works would bring closer the day when our Jewish brothers and sisters would see our Yeshua as real and a part of the fabric of our lives together.

So along comes the Boston Globe and yes, a reporter there has been developing this article apparently since August (unbeknownst to me). The reporter’s interest has just been growing, including a video interview. We can only wait with anticipation the day that the Globe, and other publications and media, will bring this story to so many others.

As Rob pointed out to me, this year Christmas perfectly aligns with the first full day of Chanukah and Sabbath for our Christian brothers and sisters. It is the only such confluence in the 590 years between 1979 and 2387. As Rob so eloquently notes:

“What the story shares with Christmas and Chanukah is that it is a redemptive story about something beautiful happening despite the worst darkness in history — a single light shining in a very dark place. And like both Christmas and Chanukah, this is a miracle story of sorts — a “hail Mary” pass across time and space from Buchenwald to Los Angeles (where I was born) so that a piece of music can be played again and a forgotten soul can be remembered. ”

Thank you, Rob, for bringing new light to these days and we are anticipating with excitement each new glimmer of Him you will share.

As each of us lights a candle during this Chanukah season, may we be reminded of the light that cannot be extinguished, that of our Yeshua, the light of truth, beauty, all that is good, and the living proof that darkness is always vanquished.

Shabbat shalom.

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