Ziggy Rogoff Journey
I am named after my grandmother's father who perished in the Holocaust. My name stands as a monument to the memory of the millions of Jews who were murdered for no other reason than that they were Jewish. Apart from his daughter (my grandmother) my grandmother's father, his family, and his entire Jewish community of 885 Jews in Slovakia were deported to Auschwitz. None were to return.
I grew up believing Jesus was the greatest enemy of the Jewish people and the source of all anti-Semitism. I used to think Jesus was a traitor to our people who had been rightly crucified as a blasphemer. At school I heard that Christians believed Jesus was the Messiah, but it only served to remind me that we were still waiting for the Messiah and it wasn’t Jesus.
When I was doing my PhD I had a friend who wasn't Jewish and wasn't Christian either. A few years later he became a Christian, and he encouraged me to do a short course to discover more about Jesus, and that is how I began to read one of the eye-witness accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It was there that I discovered a Jesus I never could have imagined: he healed the sick, he raised the dead, he calmed a storm with a word. I wondered if Jesus could be the Messiah we were taught about in the synagogue as children, but then I thought: How can Jesus be the Messiah when the Rabbis have been rejecting him for the last 2000 years?
But that wasn't my real objection. My real objection was this: How could I, as a Jew, decide to stand alongside Nazi murderers who prayed the Mass on the Sunday and sprayed the gas on Monday? Then someone asked me if I knew the prophesies in the Hebrew Bible about the coming of the Messiah. I didn't, and so began a journey of discovery. I began to see that Jesus hadn't just come to heal the sick or raise the dead, he had come to do something far more incredible, he had come from heaven to earth to die to take the punishment for my sins. It was then that is realised I was could be forgiven by God because of what Yeshua (Jesus) had done for me.
Despite the long shadow of suffering and the death of millions of Jewish men, women and children, known as the Shoah (The Holocaust) I know Jesus to be Israel’s promised Messiah. Some may feel I have departed from the true faith, but rather than a departure, I believe that I have come home. Consideration of Jesus may be seen as the ultimate act of disloyalty for a Jewish person, but if Jesus is the promised Messiah, then to follow him and believe in him, indeed to worship Him, is the appropriate response, even in the enduring knowledge of the death of millions of my people. Won’t you read one of gospels yourself?