This week I would like to share with you a testimony of a Jewish Believer by the name of Israel Saxe. Here is the story in his own words.
Get married, or leave home, my father told me when I was thirteen years old. I had come home from school for a visit, and my parents noticed that I had a leaning toward Messiah, although I did not realize it myself. They tried everything in their power to stop me from studying the Bible, for they wanted me to study only the Talmud, a set of sixty-seven books of Jewish Laws and Customs, written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Getting married, they believed, would turn my mind away from searching for the truth.
Born in a small town near Warsaw, Poland, of Jewish parents, I began to attend a school called ‘Heder’ at the age of five. When I was about eleven years old, I went to higher Hebrew school called Yeshiva. My parents hoped that someday I might be a Rabbi, or a Jewish religious leader, but GOD had a different plan for me. One day we discussed in class the meaning of Psalm 118:22 and 23:
The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of corner. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes,which speaks of Messiah as the stone rejected by the leaders of His own nation. One boy asked who the stone was. But the Rabbi did all that he could to take our attention away from that part of the Bible by warning us to stop asking questions unless we wanted to receive punishment.
In the higher Hebrew schools, we studied the Talmud and many commentaries on it, but the Bible, called ‘Tanakh’ in Hebrew, we studied very little. The Rabbis told us that if we studied the Tanakh too much we might become apostates called in Hebrew meshumed’, the name always given to a Jew who becomes a Believer in YESHUA. However, several other boys and I who slept in the Synagogue determined to read the Bible secretly without telling any of the teachers for fear we would be expelled from school. Thus I spent hours late at night before going to bed in the study of the Tanakh. It was shortly after that on a visit home, that my parents noticed my leaning towards YESHUA.
One day when coming home from the Synagogue, a man known as a middle man or matchmaker met me at the door of my home and led me into a room where a man, his wife, and daughter were waiting to see me for the purpose of engaging me to their daughter. When I heard that, I quickly excused myself, left the house through the back door, and did not return for four days. That was when my father issued the ultimatum that I must marry, or leave home.
I decided to go back to school where I stayed until I was twenty-one years of age. When I returned home after finishing school, my mother didn’t recognize me as I had grown a beard in the meantime, but my father recognized me and soon both of them were expressing joy at seeing me again. About a month later my father became suspicious about my becoming a Believer, because I often quoted the Bible. This made my life at home very unhappy. I decided to go to America.
I came to Chicago. One day I passed the Chicago Hebrew Mission and saw a large window containing Bibles and tracts. Upon enquiry a Jewish man told me that Missionaries lived there who take Jews and make Gentiles out of them. In accordance with the teaching I had received as a boy, I spit in the window three times and quoted Deuteronomy 7: 26:
Thou shalt utterly detest it and thou shalt utterly abhor it, for it is a cursed thing. But after a little debate with myself, out of curiosity, I decided to go inside the Mission where a meeting was in session. After the meeting, the Missionary gave me a New Testament written in Hebrew. I read the first line in Matthew, which contains the name of YESHUA Ha’Maschiah, the Name I hated. Immediately I tore up the testament and burned it. The Missionary, however, followed me up and at five different times gave me five other testaments, which I also burned. The LORD kept on speaking to him about me, and when he gave me the seventh testament, I decided to read it.
Several times I read it, but still had no conviction concerning Messiah. I then promised the Missionary that if he could prove to me from the Old Testament that YESHUA is the Messiah, I would believe in Him. It took us fourteen months to study the Old Testament together, twice a week, and find the Messianic promises. To my great surprise, we found about two thousand places. Then we studied the Gospels and the lives of others, among them, Shabsi-Tsvi, and Bar-Cochvu, Jews who claimed to be the Messiah and Saviour. We turned back to the Old Testament promises to see who actually fulfilled them. When I saw that YESHUA was the only One who fulfilled them in every detail, I accepted Him as my Saviour, and gave Him my life.
Shortly after my salvation, I wrote to my parents, testifying to them that YESHUA is the Messiah according to the Tanakh. I heard nothing from them for over eight years. A few months after I accepted YESHUA, a cousin of mine in Chicago came to me, inviting me to his home for supper, and to hear a letter which he had from my parents. When I came to his home, he promised to show me the letter after supper. As soon as the meal was over, he left the table, indicating that he would get the letter. Instead he returned with a kitchen knife. Grabbing me by the collar, he shouted, Israel, you have put your family to shame by accepting YESHUA. Now either give up your life, or give up your YESHUA! You may kill me, but I am not going to give up YESHUA, I replied. On hearing this, he became violently angry and, except for his wife’s intervention, would have carried out his threat. Finally he kicked me on the spine and kicked me out bodily into the street, where I fell onto the sidewalk and lay unconscious for some time.
When I opened my eyes, I saw many Jewish people standing around me. One man had brought two pails of water and they were trying to revive me. Then my cousin came out and said, That man is a Meshumed. He is not worthy to live! When they heard this, their sympathy turned to anger, and one man said, If I had known that, I would have not have brought the water. They then proceeded to beat me until the police arrived. At the police station I told them the cause of the persecution, but refused to give out any names. One policeman was very kind, and invited me to his home where he gave me some clean clothes. That was over thirty years ago. YESHUA is still a Wonderful Saviour, and I have been earnestly seeking to bring other Jewish people to Him ever since.