I was born in Siberia, Russia, not long before the fall of the Soviet Union. When I was 4, my family and I made aliyah to Israel, where we still reside today. We were not a religious family of any kind, but were open to an idea of God (whatever that may entail). I always believed in God; I knew in my heart that a supreme being, creator of all existed, but I held to the notion that a religious claim to know Him or His character was just laughable. There was no way any religion can claim the one true God – He is so much more than their dogmas, they’re simply trying to put Him in a box.
It was years later, after my grandfather’s death, that I started to pay attention to my Jewish roots. On his deathbed, he was reading a book titled “If You are a Jew”, a book on halachic laws . He was looking to get right with God in his last days, and seeing what significance Judaism played in his final hours (he wasn’t a practicing Jew throughout his life), I decided I should bring said Jewish roots to my home, especially now, I thought, living in the Jewish State.
During my military service I enrolled in a giyur program (Jewish seminary), and converted to Judaism (I had to undergo a conversion. Since my mother wasn’t Jewish, by rabbinical law I wasn’t considered one myself). I began living a religious lifestyle and was genuinely happy; I found purpose, community, a sense of belonging, life in the Torah. Quickly, however, I began noticing holes and discrepancies in the halachic laws ; some things weren’t adding up with me.
I felt torn between the beauty and truth of Scripture, and the hollow parts of Jewish law. I can’t really trace back my steps, but I somehow ended up ordering a complete Bible in Hebrew (Old and New Testament). I was intrigued. I began reading the book of Matthew, and I was immediately taken by the words of Yeshua! He addressed the same topics, the same hypocrisies that caused me to question my Judaism, and the way he was answering was so profound… I was blown away. It didn’t take convincing - I believed in Him.
At that point, I thought I was the sole Jew on the planet that believed in Yeshua. I was going out of my mind in prayer, asking what in the world am I to do next?! To my surprise there were many more like me. I became part of a small community of believers in my city, got baptized, and committed my life to learning more about Him. I know the journey has just begun, and a lot of work needs to be done on my sinful heart, but I know I can put my trust in Him, in His grace and mercy. Amen.