A JEW SHOULD KNOW GOD BY AARON BORTZ
I was reared in Cincinnati, Ohio as a Reform Jew. My religious studies centered around Jewish history, Hebrew and humanitarian concepts. The Reform Judaism of my youth accentuated a person’s responsibilities toward humanity. The teachings, while admirable, had little to do with a relationship to God. Consequently, while conceding the existence of “a God,” I possessed no definitive concepts.
Growing up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood caused me to believe that Jews were a majority. Furthermore, I felt that the Gentiles ‘belief in Jesus was based on ignorance.
High School ushered in new experience. I learned that Jewish people were a minority. I also heard more about Jesus. The information was very confusing. Each denomination had something different to say about Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. The confusion that appeared to exist in the Gentile world (regarding God) caused me to retreat to the safety and comfort of the synagogue.
When I was fourteen years of age I met Martin Chernoff. He was the very kind and informed me that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. This made sense, but being popular in school had greater appeal than serving God. I also did not want to be a traitor to my family and friends. Besides, how could I believe in someone whose name got stuck in my throat? Thoughts of God and Jesus were put on the shelf.
College Spells Future
After high school, I went on to pursue a business degree in college. Most of my time was spent on extracurricular activities and not books. I flunked out of college after only one year.
Having lost my student deferment I enlisted in the U.S. Army. Toward the end of my tour of duty, I was assigned to an Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station. It was here that I met a man who was a rea Christian. He was from Texas, a member of a Southern Baptist church, and educated. I never thought anyone who took the Bible literally could be educated. He earned my respect. One day our conversation turned to God. He unabashedly told me that without Jesus, no man can really know God. Jew and Gentile alike must first know Jesus to know God.
I was embarrassed and insulted. I thought “this guy has got a lot of chutzpah!” In my heart a chord been sounded. The truth that was hidden deep within me had been laid bare. I did not know God! I had always felt that being Jewish was more than matzah ball soup. Yiddish and mishpocha. A Jew should know God!
The Big Change
From that day forward, I felt the need to investigate Jesus further. Someone must have been praying for me because I was always pointed in the right direction. I would be exposed to the “right” radio program, the “right” book or the “right” person.
By now, I was painfully aware that I was in rebellion against God. Being a “good person” simply wasn’t enough. I was created to serve God and follow his will for my life. I repented of my former life style. I sincerely asked God to reveal to me if Jesus was the Messiah. The conflict that was raging in my soul needed to be put to rest. I wanted to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and, Jacob. If He required me to come to Him through Jesus, I would. I had to have some form of assurance. My God, in His mercy, revealed His Son to me both intellectually and spiritually, I accepted Jesus and praise God He accepted me.
About one week later, I received an unexpected confirmation of this acceptance. While driving a car down an expressway at 70 m.p.h. (the legal limit in 1970), the Lord God make His presence felt in a very physical way. This skeptical Aaron Bortz knew at that moment that Yeshus Hamashiach had just walked up to him, shook his hand and was filling him with the Holy Spirit. (I had never even read about the Holy Spirit)! “Jesus was no longer a bone in the throat.” The Bible was confirmed as the inspired Word of God. The river of living water that had rushed into the depths of my being brought a new “completeness” to my life. Another interesting side effect was that I now felt more Jewish than ever before! I had a keen appetite for understanding of Jewish holidays, traditions and Hebrew Baruch Hashem! The Lord had brought new meaning to my life. I now had a personal relationship with my God.
More than thirteen years have passed since true reality come into my life. God has blessed me with wonderful teaching from such people as Martin Chernoff (during important growing years). Rachmiel Frydland, Jeff Adler and many others. The Lord God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters who are being taught the true meaning of being Jewish. I have completed my education and continue to be blessed by the Lord. Above all, I know my God. Without this knowledge life would be meaningless. All who reach for Him will not be disappointed.