His Voice


This year at Ruach we’ve been exploring the topic of finding our voice. The emphasis has been on our voice as a community. Our faith community shapes and reflects our individual voices which are working to exemplify our growing-closer-to-Him spiritual selves.


Each day seems to present so many opportunities to share my voice literally, my thoughts and actions striving to share faith journeys and insights with others. Being able to do so is a blessing given to each of us.


As you know I love listening to Chagigah Radio on Sunday mornings from 7-10 (a shameless plug for WERS 88.9 FM or by app). This program showcases Jewish music, thoughts, and humor, but mostly music. As a matter of fact this coming Sunday morning in the 7-8 AM hour you can hear a Miqedem song or two.


This past Sunday as Hal Slifer the host of the show played Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of Love” I was reminded of the back story to that song. Rather than it just being beautiful lyrics envisioning a couple in love, it actually was inspired by thoughts of the concentration camps during the Holocaust as our people were being led to their deaths. While listening to that song I was reading an article about the gathering in Times Square just the night before of thousands of Jewish teens as part of the CTeen (Chabad Teen Network) Jewish Pride event. The both/and of thinking of those Jews being killed for their faith while reading of Jewish pride created cognitive dissonance not only in my brain but also in my heart.


That same afternoon I “randomly” turned on a movie on Turner Classic Movies about a story set in Connecticut in the late ‘50s when blacks were not allowed to participate in normal daily life with whites. The plot involved a black man and white woman, not love interests, just two people who were literally alienated from their own communities as a result of their friendship, such closeness not considered acceptable at that time.


To cap the chain of events off, I was at an event that evening where the conversation went something like this from someone I had never met,


“Oh, your last name is Cohen? A few of us were just saying the other day that there are like 4 other Cohens in this community.”


The person to my left then said to me,


“Oh, do you know Jerome and Sue (whatever)? They met on a kibbutz! You must meet them.”


These seem to be innocuous comments. Yet underlying these types of comments is the perspective of seeing me as “the other”, just as skin color defined “the other” in the movie referenced above.  Though in my case not by race, the people speaking saw me as defined by my religion. In the setting of a party with people of so many possible connections through interests and activities, religion is a divider not a uniter. I would not have wanted to be a fly on the wall of those conversations discussing the Cohen name even if those involved didn’t realize the subtle judgment underlying their words.


That being Jewish could lead to one’s death in Auschwitz and also be the source of celebration for thousands in Times Square, that race or religion could divide societies in the ‘50s and intimacy in relationships even today . . . such is the both/and of who we are societally just by virtue of our faith.


Being set apart by faith is not always a bad thing. Prioritizing our faith often sets us apart from others which is why it is so important to be part of vibrant faith centered communities. For those who are Christian there may be many community options to be with others similar to you in your faith walks. Not only can you experience strong support, you also can be comfortably open about your beliefs . Being of a majority faith offers this advantage and opportunity.


Not only am I Jewish, an amazingly small minority of the world’s population, I am a subset of that group as a Messianic Jew. Walking in Jewish shoes and the especially beautifully designed ones I now wear as a follower of Yeshua has given me a lifetime of experiences and motivation to work toward a better understanding of my voice, particularly my words and actions that express my love of Yeshua. The life lessons learned over seven decades have helped me to better understand the impact of my voice on others and to be sensitive to how my voice is heard.


It is actually during these last decades as a Messianic Jew that I am moving toward greater clarity of that voice. The us/them, Jewish/Christian dichotomy of my childhood has been illuminated as I’ve learned of the true history of our ancestors who were Jewish at the time of Yeshua and remained Jewish followers of Him openly for centuries and less openly until the revival fifty years ago. (Another shameless plug – if you weren’t at services last Shabbat, you MUST go to Ruach Israel’s website and listen to Rabbi Nathan’s masterful walk-through of the history of the early Jewish believers in Yeshua vis-à-vis healing prayer).


Our voice as Jewish followers of Yeshua is meant to be heard. Through our journey of faith as a people, misunderstandings are being clarified, stereotypes are being dispelled, the truth of Yeshua is being shared. It’s actually amazing that such a small group has made such a difference in modern scholarship, that result being not only due to the brilliance of our scholars, but clearly is being orchestrated by HaShem.


Yeshua, the greatest Jew who ever lived and also our promised Messiah, is the source of all we see in these times of such incredible movement of bringing together the disparate parts, allowing us to serve Him in this way, revealing Himself to us in these miraculous ways. So we work, we serve Him, to help our neighbors understand us better through our loving discussions and comments to raise awareness of divisive tendencies. It’s only a matter of time until all will know His Love. It’s through our loving actions, small as they may be, and as hard as they may be to do at times, that little by little, big changes happen over time.


Jewish people have been and typically still are “the other”, in recent times even moreso. Over the course of history, being in that group often silenced our voices, or worse. As Messianic Jews we have the unique opportunity to have walked in the shoes of being an oppressed people as well as having a fuller knowledge of the love of Messiah Yeshua. To Him there was and is no “other”. His Love embraces all, as we are to model in our words, our voice.


As we meet the challenges of still the both/and, the bad amidst the good, His Presence alongside His seeming absence, I encourage you to find your voice, to hear His voice of unconditional love. It truly is heavenly and needed more now than ever before, for we are on the brink of even more days for its need, in anticipation of more days to follow of wonder and awe.


Shabbat shalom.


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