Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Interview with Bob Mendelsohn


Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus Australia (you can find his blog here. He was kind enough to sit down and answer some of our questions. While I was helping with Philadelphia Behold Your God, he was kind enought to do an interview with me via email.

At least, I assume he was sitting down when he was answering our questions via email.

Q: Could you tell us what life was like before you believed in Y'shua?

Bob Mendelsohn (BM): I enjoyed a suburban Jewish life in Kansas City. We were Orthodox, at least I was and my parents were, at least on the holidays. We kept a kosher home and I was very involved in NCSY (Orthodox Jewish youth group). Academia was important and I went to Washington University in St Louis. I sang in the Chamber choir in my high school and loved being in drama productions, both at school and in our youth group.

Q: How did you come to believe in Y'shua?

BM: I wasn't looking for another religion, thank you very much. Some Christian young people approached me in many venues, offering salvation and Christianity. I wasn't interested. They surrounded me on the streets and preached their version of religion.I resisted and in fact ridiculed them. I was Jewish after all, automatically related to God.

But another time in Kansas City, in May 1971, some religionists were out on the steets near the Art Gallery. They were young, about 21 years old. And they knew God personally. They offered him to me...but again I replied "I'm Jewish" Of course, I'd never read the New Testament. Why would I? It was a goyishe fairy tale, invented by the church to keep Jews in exile or without jobs. It was a domination book.

Until I read it for myself.

There I saw the consummate Jew. He was the man of peace and love. He was the universal hippie. He was everything I ever wanted to follow.

And he offered forgiveness. The greatest thing I wanted, the thing I longed for, was release from all my sins. Sure, on Yom Kippur I heard it discussed, but never realized [its reality].

Now, in Jesus, the offer was given and in receiving him as Savior, forgiveness was transacted. Awesome!

Q: What was the reaction of your friends and family?

BM: Most of them repelled me. My parents threw me out of the house. We eventually got in good relationship again, but initially they tossed me out. Friends couldn't understand and wouldn't return phone calls.

Q: We hear that people who are properly educated in Judaism don't believe in Y'shua. What would you say to comments like that?

BM: I had a very good Jewish education. I had my Bar Mitzvah in the Orthodox synagogue after over a year of specialized training just for that. I graduated Hebrew school two years later. Then I continued to learn with rabbis in KC and then at St Louis' Tiferes Israel Chevra Kadisha synagogue with Rabbi Polin.

Those who knock us back about our Jewish education are showing their own ignorance. A man can learn and can make up his own mind. At least that's what I've always been taught.

Q: What brought you to Australia?

BM: I moved from New York City with my wife and kids in 1998. We had visited Sydney before and loved it. Jews for Jesus was opening a new office there and the "fit" for my going was timely. I think God was leading me to come here. And the country is great, the people are top drawer, the scenery is awesome, the opportunities for sharing Messiah virtually unlimited.

Q: What do you miss most about the United States?

BM: Choices. You get colors and sizes and options on everything there, whereas here...well, let's just say it's limited. Also the media bias is very visible in both and I'm more comfortable with American bias. Also the American response to the Gospel is clear, but here there is reluctance to offend and that makes for more "silence" in answer to my offer of Jesus.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers who are considering the claims of Y'shua?

BM: On the judgment day we will not be standing alongside others. We will individually be responsible for what we know and what we did with what we knew. No rabbi will be there behind whom we can hide. No parents will cover for you. No community affiliation will stand in your place. You alone with the Almighty. I think believing in Jesus our messiah is the only reasonable response to who he is, and the only offer of salvation that God has ever given regarding our eternal life.

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