Steve Herzig

His Shepherd Cyrus

World history is boring!” Did you ever hear such a thing? I know I did. Why learn the names of people and places you never heard of? What difference does it make?

Bound for Babylon

Tell 10 Jewish people they are the Chosen People of God and at least half will reply, “I wish He had chosen someone else!” While such an example of Jewish wit is amusing…

You’ve Come A Long Way, Israel

Israel may be small, but it ranks high when it comes to education. Such regard for learning is rooted in Scripture. Nehemiah 8:8 states, “They read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God…

Making Medicines That Help the World

Seventy-one-year-old Iowa resident Ruth Brown may have no idea that she owes a debt of gratitude to an Israeli company located south of Haifa. Doctors had probed Ruth’s stomach and performed a colonoscopy…

Israel: A Technology Power House

When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” So says the investment firm of E. F. Hutton, anyway. The company’s slogan made the point that it is so good at what it does that everyone…

The Jewish ‘Doomsday Clock’

The Doomsday Clock (see doomsdayclock.org) has graced the cover of each issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago since the magazine’s inception in 1947. Midnight symbolizes total nuclear destruction…

Israel’s True Tikvah

They looked for Him throughout all their agonies and heartaches, through centuries of oppression and persecution. The Hebrew Scriptures clearly told of His coming. So what happened?

How to Identify Him

Genesis 49:10—His Authority The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. This portion…

The Emerging Church: What Is It?

Candles, incense, mood music. Can this be church? A revolution is taking place in worship, and it’s causing many people to look around with wonder and ask, “What’s going on?”

The EC and Israel

Historically, church saints have looked to God to take them up to meet the Lord in the air at any moment (1 Th. 4). Furthermore, said theologian David L. Larsen, “Neither John…

Glossary for the Emerging Church Movement

Absolutism: theory of objective values; a philosophy in which such values as truth and morality are absolute and not conditional based on human perception. Conversation: expresses the desire to interact and share…

The Faithful Remnant

To most people, the word remnant means something that is left over. Leftovers aren’t usually thought of positively. One thinks of leftover food, a sock that missed the laundry, or screws…

Solving the Sin Problem

So reads The Friends of Israel’s doctrinal statement. Although sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the knowledge of sin came through the Mosaic Law given to the Jewish…

A Better Sacrifice

When I was a boy, my grandmother would take me downtown to a butcher who sold live chickens. This was an important trip for her. She took great pains…

The World of the Hasidim Conclusion

Without question, Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer (also known as the Besht and the Ba’al Shem Tov) left a permanent mark on Judaism. The Hasidic (ultra-Orthodox) movement flourished under his care. But all Hasidic…

The Roots of Nazism

How could a country that gave the world the great reformer Martin Luther also produce Adolf Hitler? The answer may shock you.

The World of the Hasidim Part Two

Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, known as the Ba’al Shem Tov (“Master of the Good Name”), is such a significant figure in Jewish history that even today his name evokes admiration and respect…

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

God is the author of Klanism,” and Jesus Christ was the Klan’s “first real member.” So said the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in 1925.1 “Just like Christ, I have a duty to my own…

O Jewish Town of Bethlehem

This time of year these are the thoughts most often associated with the birth of the Lord Jesus. Pastoral little Bethlehem, in the midst of shepherds and their sheep, peaceful and tranquil before the appearance…

Jewish and Christian Tradition Get It Right

The biblical explanation of the origin of man and the world around him should satisfy Jewish people as well as Bible-believing Christians. Yet some in both groups reject the Genesis creation account.

Darwin’s Turn From Christianity

Charles Darwin was born February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was an evolutionist/naturalist, poet, and philosopher. His father, Robert, was a successful and wealthy physician. His mother died when he was eight.

The Monkey Trial

It was called the “trial of the century.” Eighty years ago this month the Scopes trial brought evolution to the forefront in American education.

Making the Wrong Assumptions

Never assume anything.” This well-known adage works particularly well when applied to the science of biblical interpretation. Assuming too much about a scriptural text can lead to inaccurate conclusions that miss…

False Teachers

False teachers can pose a health hazard. Perhaps you remember some from our own time. On November 19, 1978, 913 followers of Jim Jones committed suicide at the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, by drinking…

If the Maccabees Had Lost

Each year around December, wherever there is a significant Jewish population, television screens across America flash the greeting…

Tikkun Olam

It is our duty to praise the Lord of all things, to ascribe greatness to Him who formed the world in the beginning, since He hath not made us like the nations of other lands…

Workmen’s Circle

The children of Israel provided an interesting name for the heavenly bread sent to them from the Lord. They called it manna, which means “What is it?” (Ex. 16:15). The same question is asked today…

Baruch Ha Shem

Elohim appears more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament. It is powerful, plural, and used by two divine personalities.

Play Ball!

Sports radio, a relative newcomer in the arena known as talk radio, is a result of the mutual admiration between professional athletes and the fans who watch them. The last names of the people who produce…

Blessings on Your Head

At the beginning of the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Jewish people in the little Russian village of Anatevka ask their rabbi if there is a special blessing for the czar. The czar ruled…

Akiva: Ascension to Prominence

Joseph Akiva is known by Jewish people around the world as the famous Rabbi Akiva. Though he lived from A.D. 50 to 135, he is deeply revered among Jews today for his amazing insights…

Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?

If I had been asked, “Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?” during my university years, I would not have hesitated a moment before answering, “Yes!” My formative years were spent surrounded by people whose perception…

The ‘Final Solution’

How does a nation plan genocide? Hitler’s systematic, calculated method will alarm you, even as it confirms the truth of the depravity of man.

A Day for Remembering Yom Hashoah

Some of the most disturbing words in all of Scripture are found in the book of Esther: There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom…

Pondering the Question of Evil

Why is there so much evil in the world? That question has challenged philosophers and scholars since time began. Spend just 30 minutes watching the national news—with its usual display of wars, man’s injustice…

When You’re Dead, You’re Dead!

A number of years ago, I attended the funeral of a dear Jewish friend named Max. I had met him through mutual friends shortly after his right side had become crippled by a stroke.

So, What Exactly is That?

Meeting new people is a regular part of my job. Usually it takes just a short time before I find myself asking the inevitable question, “What do you do?” Sometimes (not often, I hope)…

Chosen? for What?

Were you ever the first one onto the baseball diamond but the last to be chosen for a team? Or worse, maybe you were never chosen at all? Maybe, though, you were the best player…

Aliyah for the People of the Book

The People of the Book.” Whom do you think of when you hear that phrase, which so clearly distinguishes a specific people? Which people and what book? The people are the Chosen People, the Israelites…

Organized for Service

In 1843 twelve Jewish men, each one an immigrant, met on the Lower East Side of New York City. Their purpose was to form an organization to help their own people in need—a type of

People for a Land

You would think that such a want ad would yield few, if any, applicants. Yet just after the turn of the twentieth century, forty thousand Jewish people made aliya (immigration to Israel)…

Lost Hope Reclaimed

Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off on our part…

The First Line of Defense

Once a year an Orthodox community in Israel assembles to honor the boys from fatherless families who are ready for bar mitzvah. The fathers of these boys all lost their lives in service to their…

From Badge to Banner

Vexillology. Most people have never heard the term; but according to World Book Encyclopedia, it is the study of the history and symbolism of flags. Its root can be traced to the Latin word for…

The Man Who Brought Hebrew Back to the Land

For its first issue of the year 2000, The Jerusalem Report, a prominent international Jewish magazine, published the results of a poll in which it asked its readers to choose the one hundred greatest Jews…

Jewish Humor

The obstetrician wanted to be sure. His patient had told him the date she expected her baby to be born. Taking into account her age, size, and weight gain…

Judaism vs Jewishness

He could have been a poster boy for a Jewish magazine. Reared in an observant home, he had celebrated bar mitzvah at age 13. He graduated from Hebrew school at the age of 18, and it was clear he had a firm grasp of Jewish history and culture as well as…

Giving and Receiving the Blessing

Do you remember the old TV program Star Trek? In that series, the expression “Live long and prosper” became a familiar utterance. It was used by First Officer Spock as a greeting and a farewell to special people visiting the starship…

The Zion Connection: Common Enemies

Possibly the most disturbing event in our nation’s recent history took place in a cozy mountain state in upper middle-class America. At a time when young people concern themselves with test scores, term papers, and final exams, students were…

Try It—You’ll Like!

For many of us, food is an emotional experience. The sights and aromas of various food items evoke wide-ranging passions, both positive and negative. It is not uncommon to observe grimaces and other contortions as people view…

Baptism or Mikveh

“Steve, I can’t do it, I just can’t do it. I know all about the plans we’ve made, but this is not going to happen. I’m Jewish; this would be too much for my family.” The voice on the other end of the phone was quivering with emotion. This was not…

Politics And Politicians

From the time of Israel’s inception as a modern state 51 years ago, the United States has been its consistent and loyal friend. In our country, many issues seem to be based on political affiliation. The treatment of Israel has not been one…

“I Was Born a Jew, and I Will Die a Jew.”

There are many religions in the world. While some seem to overlap and even share common beliefs and practices, most have distinctive characteristics that mark them out or set them apart. Many have unique, identifiable practices, including…

Who Killed Jesus?

Picture this: A Jewish family spending quality time decorating a Christmas tree. Does this sound odd to you? When I was 17, I was invited to a Christmas tree decorating party at the home of a Jewish acquaintance. Confusion would best describe my initial reaction…

The Call of the Shofar

Have you ever been driving along the highway when, seemingly out of nowhere, you hear the shrill sound of sirens? At first you are startled as the high-pitched sound seems to engulf you from almost every direction. Instinctively you try to…

What’s In a Name?

One of the wonderful things about becoming parents is the ongoing debate between husband and wife over what to name the child. What couple hasn’t purchased a book of names and then uttered the words, “Hey, what about…?”

The Tattoo Is Taboo

Our neighborhood boasted a penny candy store ingeniously located on my route to school. In addition to the tempting and inexpensive candy, one of the most popular items in the store was the individualized tattoo. The shopper had a choice of…

Wanting to Be a Somebody

Written in the flyleaf of one of my books are the words, “Great to be a somebody. I’m most grateful for everything. T. G. [Thank God].” A friend of mine wrote those words in 1960. When he wrote that note, Max was indeed a somebody. An immigrant child whose…

The Pioneering Spirit

The pioneering spirit has always captivated me. Remnants of wagon trails can still be seen in various Western states. The courage and tenacity displayed by those trailblazers are lessons for all of us. Yet, as much as I admire those brave Americans who…

Uncovering Our Roots: The Pale Of Settlement

An understanding of our family background—how our ancestors lived and how they came to the United States from their countries of origin—satisfies a curiosity in many of us. For myself and other Jewish people with Eastern European ancestry, tracing our roots can…

A Jew Lives Here

Jewish people who are serious about practicing their Judaism realize that living incognito is not an option for them. Judaism, by its very nature, teaches its people not to be ashamed of their identity.

Fermished and Ferblonjet

A guide is a person who shows the way by leading, directing, or advising. The Friends of Israel uses excellent guides when we host our tours to Israel. These individuals provide insightful information…

How to Be a Mensch

My mother gasped when she saw me walk through the door after a semester away at college. I had left home clean shaven with short hair, and now—well, let’s just say she had trouble finding…

A Jew, or Not a Jew?

A rabbi tells a story of his days in rabbinical school. As part of his curriculum, the professor asked his students to list the names of the ten greatest Jews of the 20th century.

The Question of Time

It is often joked about among Jewish people that whenever the time is set for an appointment or a date, the time specified will not be the actual time to begin.

Tzedaka: It Is More Blessed to Give

A story is told of the rabbi of Nemirov. His followers, all Hasidim, stated emphatically that every night their rabbi went up to heaven. Another Jewish group, Mitnaggedim (opponents), ridiculed the Hasidim about this belief.

Israel’s New Reality

This statement, made by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perez, may have paved the way for his failure in May to be officially elected to that position.

The Dynamic Of Jewish Prayer

Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lᴏʀᴅ.

Siddur: The Book Of Prayer

Like so many other Jewish adults, I well remember the long and arduous process of learning the liturgy of Hebrew prayers involved in worship. It started with the simple rote learning of the Hebrew alphabet.

Prayer: The Service Of The Heart

Prayer is not unique to Judaism, yet Jewish prayer is unique. In synagogues around the world, congregants meet together to worship. But Jewish prayer is not confined to a synagogue.

Because It’s A Mitzvah

When people visit Mea Shearim, one of the most Orthodox communities in all of Israel, or observe the crowds gathered at the Western Wall of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem, questions often arise…

Kabbalah: Making a Mystery of God’s Word

An expert is defined as a person who displays a special knowledge derived from training or experience. Over two decades ago, as a junior in college, I was boarding with several other students—all Gentiles.

Rambam and Rashi: Bringing the Bottom Line

Separated by time (about 100 years) and distance (several hundred miles), two men provided the means for the Jewish people to study both the Talmud and the Bible. These “helps” are still used today…

The State of the State

The subject of politics can be volatile and is often avoided in polite conversation. Still, jokes about politicians, parties, and their performance permeate our society. Who among us is not interested in the various national…

Hillel: The Kind Pharisee

Jewish tradition states that the oral law was transmitted from Moses to Joshua, from Joshua to the elders, from the elders to the prophets, and from the prophets to the men of the great assembly.

The Talmud

“No! No! No!” the grandmother screamed as the six-year-old boy placed the clean spoon into the drawer of clean utensils. “That spoon goes with the milchig [dairy].” The youngster should have known;

Are There Horns Under That Hat?

Several years ago there was a TV series called Little House on the Prairie. One of the show’s characters, a youngster named Albert, became friendly with an elderly Jewish man.

Tenach, Torah, & Targum

The Torah is the foundation stone for the Jewish people. Inspired by God and written by Moses, it has been central to Jewish life since its inception.

Food For Thought

Food, with its various tastes, smells, textures, and visual appeal, is a powerful trigger in the process of remembering. Whether it is in the preparation, serving, or eating, certain foods seem to prompt many people…

Fussy Fressers

Food is an integral part of Jewish life. One man explained it this way: “For our people, food is more than a necessity of life; it is an emotional experience.”

A Special Diet

Food, glorious food! We need it to survive. We eat it to celebrate almost any occasion. We offer it in hospitality or comfort. Socially, food somehow helps to build bridges for easier and better communication…

Dressed for Worship Part Two

As Tevya, the milkman in Sholem Aleichem’s story Fiddler on the Roof, considered various practices unique to his Judaism, he turned to the audience and asked, “Why do we do the things we do?”…

Dressed for Worship Part One: The Tallit

Who hasn’t had it happen—a missed appointment, that lack of association between a name and a face, the forgotten anniversary or birthday? Forgetfulness is a plague that knows no prejudice.

Death and Mourning

Chai is the Hebrew word for life. Jewish people frequently wear gold charms depicting this Hebrew character on chains around their necks, emphasizing the fact that life is Judaism’s most precious and cherished commodity.

Shabbat

Holidays are commemorative days used by most people to participate in recreational activities, to travel, or just to relax. Conversely, holy days are special days set aside for worship.

A Little Sanctuary Ezekiel 11:16

As a youngster growing up, I can remember two synagogues in our neighborhood. Sitting high on a hill was an imposing, three-story brick building with beautiful white stone pillars in the front.

Beware of a False Alarm

Suddenly the alarm sounded! Judging from the teachers’ faces, this was no drill. All of the students filed out quickly and quietly, looking around for signs of trouble.

The Jewish Wedding

Marriage is regarded as one of the most important and significant decisions in the lives of Jewish people. The Torah (the five books of Moses) clearly states that God made “an help fit” for Adam…

Bar Mitzvah

On Saturday morning, June 11, 1966, I walked from the stage of the synagogue to the platform (bema) where the Torah lay open. Following in the tradition of my father and grandfather…

Brit Milah

The birth of a boy into a Jewish family is cause for great joy and celebration (simcha). On the eighth day after his birth, a ceremony takes place that unites him with all other Jewish…

Passover

Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments, and enjoined upon us the mitzvah of kindling the Festival lights …