Inside View Mar/Apr 2015
“To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). I thought of that verse when I received word that our beloved and longtime colleague, Zvi Kalisher, had passed away in mid-November.
Over the almost six decades he was associated with The Friends of Israel, he became well known around the world because of his regular column at the back of Israel My Glory.
I took note of his popularity when we decided to leave Zvi out of the issue celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary to make room for all the material we had.
As soon as the magazine hit the streets, our phones began ringing. Readers feared we had decided to stop featuring Zvi. Some went so far as to say, “If you aren’t going to print Zvi anymore, you can cancel my subscription!” We assured them Zvi’s column would return in the next issue and appreciated how dearly they enjoyed reading it.
It was Zvi’s unique way of opening the Scriptures and asking questions pointing people to the Messiah that caught the attention of so many. As I travel, I often hear people praise Israel My Glory. They usually follow by saying the first thing they do is ﬂip to the back and read Zvi before reading the rest of the publication.
Few of our hundreds of thousands of readers met Zvi, but those who traveled with us to Israel on our Up to Jerusalem tours had that privilege. Until his health limited him several years ago, Zvi told his life story to each of our tour groups while we were in Jerusalem.
I recall the first time I heard him. He was a master at mixing humor with the seriousness of surviving the Holocaust and the early, diﬃcult days of living in Israel without his family, who had been killed in Europe.
Zvi was a living testimony to God’s amazing grace and divine hand. He enjoyed telling how many languages he could speak and always shared pictures of his family and ministry. He lived for the opportunities to speak to others of the One who changed his life, the Messiah. He took the initiative to share God’s love with anyone who would listen, always taking them to the Word.
I never tired of hearing his story. A few years ago, when his son Meno was out of town and unable to bring him to meet with our group, Meno’s wife, Anat, brought Zvi. I watched her face as her father-in-law gave his testimony. Even though she had heard it many, many times, she looked as though it was the first time.
She was enthralled by his story, and I could see in her face the admiration and respect she had for him. Her expression spoke more than words of her love for him. I talked to her afterward, and she expressed how fortunate she felt to know Zvi and be able to call him Abba, meaning “loving father” in Hebrew.
Zvi’s legacy of sharing with others will live on and bless many for years to come, as we present dramatic readings of his columns on our new radio program beginning in April. The weekly, half-hour broadcast will feature an “Apples of Gold” segment at the end of each program, drawing from the many years of Zvi’s testimonies in Israel My Glory magazine.
I had the good fortune to see Zvi one last time in October on our fall tour, when we attended services at the Jerusalem Assembly. It was merely a month before his call home from his heavenly Father. He was old and frail, but he still had the twinkle in his eye that endeared him to so many.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells His disciples to use their limited time and earthly possessions in a way that will earn them friends who will receive them when they enter heaven. I imagine a throng of friends greeted Zvi when he left his body and entered the presence of the Lord.
This issue of Israel My Glory includes a tribute to this remarkable man. If he could speak to us, he would say the tribute is not about him but about the Lord, who preserved a young boy from death in the Holocaust, took him to his homeland of Israel, and introduced him to the Messiah. It is a tribute to God’s amazing grace and the impact a believer in Messiah can have when he gives his life to serving Him.