6 January 1989 Lili Simon reaches her final destination #otdimjh

Lili Simon was the daughter of the timber merchant Fritz Simon. She was born in Königsberg in 1908 as the oldest of four siblings.  In 1920 the family moved to Bremen.  Her father had three grandparents of Jewish origin and was considered a “full Jew” according to the “race laws”, and Lili as “half-Jewish” developed an interest in theology in her childhood.  The relationship between Jews and Christians would become the focus of her theology, her own identity and the key to her existence.

After graduating from high school in 1928, Lili began studying theology and philology in Bonn.  She studied with Karl Barth, who had taught in Bonn since 1930.  As one of the inner circle of his students, she gave seminar presentations, asked and responded to his questions, and would maintain correspondence with him until his death in 1968.

In 1932 she moved to the University of Erlangen and received her doctorate in June 1933 under Benno von Wiese with a thesis on Goethe, graduating “summa cum laude”.  However, as a “half-Jew” she was not allowed to take the state examination.  Thereupon she emigrated in October 1933 convinced that there was no future for her in Germany, partly because of her Jewish ancestry, and partly also because of her political views. Like Barth and others, she opposed the developing nationalism that would emerge under the National Socialists.

She came to Switzerland via England and France, where she did language studies, and passed the theological faculty examination in Basel in July 1936.  But she only had permission to study in Switzerland and had to find work elsewhere. From a distance, she watched what was happening in Germany and wrote to Karl Barth on January 1, 1935: “It is often incredibly difficult for me to be so far off the beaten track and alone.  […] I am shocked and I cannot understand why our church, which has appeared as a “confessing” one, is so silent and hesitates.”

From September 1936 Lili Simon taught at the school for Jewish children run by the Church’s Ministry among the Jewish People (CMJ) in Bucharest, Roumania. 

Article by Lili Simon on her work in Bucharest – article not yet online
CMJ School Bucharest – Lili Simon is on the front row, on the right – with thanks to David Pileggi for supplying the photo

After the pogrom in Roumania against the Jews in 1941, she fled to Palestine. There she joined the Anglican school run by CMJ in Tel Aviv, teaching English language and literature.  In 1944, through the mediation of friends, she found employment as an English teacher at the Hebrew speaking Rehovot grammar school, where she was known as a Christian. For Lili, the years in Palestine/Israel were far more than just another stop on the run from the Nazis; the land became her home. 

Letter sent from BAD SCHANDAU 7 3 41 and addressed to Bucharest where it arrived (the backstamp is dated 20 MAR 41) for “Fräulein Dr Lili Simon.” From Bucharest, it was forwarded to Jerusalem – and again it got there, as shown by the British censor tape. This letter appears to have been censored when leaving Germany and may have been censored again when leaving Bucharest for Jerusalem. Though Romania formally aligned itself with the Axis powers on 23 November 1940, it still proved possible for this letter to travel to Mandate Palestine. Either Romania counted as a Neutral power or else Palestine did, which would account for a second German censorship when the letter was forwarded.
Lili must have been very surprised to receive this letter, though unfortunately we cannot tell when:
With thanks to Trevor Pateman for this information and pictures – note the Nazi censor’s stamp on right

Lili longed for a state in which Jews and Arabs could live together, and worked to create  understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Jews and Christians.  As a German and a Christian, she was exposed to questions like: “What do you have in common with Jesus, as your Gospels show him?  From a saving remnant you have become an aggressive majority, from being persecuted you have become the persecutors! Persecuted Christ yes – but Christians, no!”   She wrote to her friend and teacher, Karl Barth – “that is my daily bread in Eretz-Israel ”(letter sent on September 17, 1947). 

Lili applied for both British citizenship and Palestinian passport (see pictures below), as a “Hebrew Christian”[more information needed here].

In 1952 an eye operation forced her to return to Europe.  The doctors advised against a permanent stay in Israel, and in 1953 she returned to Bremen.  This was followed by years of tough struggle for reparation (financial compensation), which was urgently needed because of her difficult economic situation.  But this was refused many times because she left Germany “voluntarily”.  Finally, after several court cases, she was awarded compensation. 

Lili also was appointed to a lectureship in religious education at the newly-founded University of Education in Bremen.  But this was resisted by the institution and Lili Simon found herself working in a climate characterised by disinterest and wanting to be free from any ecclesiastical influence.  Lili  found little support from the local pastors and felt abandoned by the Bremen Church.  Despite enjoying the work with the students, she gave up her job at the university and in 1958 was assigned to the State Youth Ministry of the Rhenish Church. 

A progressive illness forced her to adopt a less active lifestyle.  She hoped to find this at the Youth Academy in Radevormwald, where she taught contemporary literature and Judaism from 1964.  She also led weekend conferences, which were very well received.  But the work of the academy was focused on psychological and socially-oriented group dynamics.  In Lili’s view, theology was insufficiently represented, and this led to conflicts with the Youth Academy. Unwilling to compromise on the importance of theology, she retired in 1972.  Lili continued her extensive conference and lecturing activities – most recently confined to a wheelchair – whenever possible.  Shortly after traveling to Israel on her 80th birthday, Lili died of the consequences of an accident on January 6, 1989.

Reflection and Prayer. Discovering this lady, a student of Karl Barth, a gifted theologian and teacher, and a refugee whose travels took her through England, France, Switzerland, Roumania and Israel, I am full of wonder at how her life reflected not only the travails of her times, but the faithfulness of God to his people Israel. How I would love to have met her, and hear her story at first hand, her life of prayer, her theological and political concerns, and the impact that she had on her friends, students and disciples. I look forward to meeting her in heaven!

CMJ Employment Register – with thanks to David Pileggi

Lili Simon * December 23, 1908 in Königsberg, † January 6, 1989 in Wuppertal.  1928–1933 studies of theology and philology in Bonn and Erlangen, doctorate;  1933 emigrated to England, 1934 language studies in France;  1936 theological faculty examination in Basel;  1936–1941 teacher in Bucharest;  1941 escaped to Palāstina, teacher in Tel-Aviv, 1944 in Rehovot;  1952 return to Switzerland;  1953–1958 lecturer at the University of Education in Bremen: 1958–1965 State Youth Parish Office of the Rhenish Church;  1964 / 65–1972 lecturer and lecturer at the Radevormwald youth academy.

Evangelisch getauft – als »Juden« verfolgt,

Evangelisch getauft – als “Juden” verfolgt. Theologen jüdischer Herkunft in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Ein Gedenkbuch herausgegeben von
Hartmut Ludwig und Eberhard Röhm in Verbindung mit Jörg Thierfelder
Theologische Literaturzeitung. Monatsschrift für das gesamte Gebiet der Theologie und Religionswissenschaft. Calver Verlag Stuttgart, 2014, pp. 324-5.

http://www.caspari.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mishkan61.pdf, p74 – Harold Adeney’s recollection –


Type:    Article in Book
Title:    Israels Hoffnung gibt den Juden und uns Zukunft
Ein Beitrag im Gespräch mit Karl Barth über die Juden
Title in English:    Israel’s Hope Gives a Future to the Jews and Us
A Contribution in Conversation with Karl Barth on the Jews
Author:    Simon, Lili
Book:    Antwort
Language:    German
Pages:    712-731
Wildi ID:    18091.1
Keyword:    Israel / Jews
Reference ID:    13592

P279 – Another set of much more complicated questions concerned the Christian belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the implications of this belief for Jewish-Christian 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid., 428-430. 278 relations. Here workgroup members were themselves clearly divided. Pastor Leuner, a Jewish Christian argued that it was only the actions of Christians, their centuries of persecution against the Jews, that prevented Jews from recognizing Jesus as their Messiah. Schalom Ben-Chorin, a Jewish speaker, acknowledged the respect that many modern Jews had for Jesus as a Jewish teacher. But he reiterated their rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims. And another workgroup member, Lili Simon, worked to explain Jesus’ comments that he was the only way to the Father. These comments, she suggested, did not exclude the Jews since, in context, he was speaking here of the path that his disciples should follow, not making any universal claim. Rabbi Geis, by contrast, reaffirmed the important theological differences between Judaism and Christianity, arguing “the things that separate us need to be allowed to remain; it would be a fundamental misunderstanding to not take these seriously or to try to discuss them away.” Nevertheless, all of these speakers called for Christian humility in relation to the Jews and for tolerance and continued discussion.75


DEKT 1961 – 430-440

Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag. Berlin 1961. Dokumente. Stuttgart: Kreuz Verlag, 1961. [DEKT 1961]


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Friend of Charlotte von Kirchbaum, Professor Helmut Gollwitzer and Dr. Lili Simon, who came to know her while they were students in Basel.closer circle of his students included Georg Eichholz, Walther Fiirst, Helmut Gollwitzer, Heinz Kloppen- burg, Werner Koch, Walter Kreck, the student ad- viser Erica Kiippers, Georg Lanzenstiel, Lili Simon, Karl Gerhard Steck, and Hellmut Traub.” Among them she made many good friends, and these friend- ships continued even after the years in Bonn.

P279 – Another set of much more complicated questions concerned the Christian belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and the implications of this belief for Jewish-Christian 73 Ibid. 74 Ibid., 428-430. 278 relations. Here workgroup members were themselves clearly divided. Pastor Leuner, a Jewish Christian argued that it was only the actions of Christians, their centuries of persecution against the Jews, that prevented Jews from recognizing Jesus as their Messiah. Schalom Ben-Chorin, a Jewish speaker, acknowledged the respect that many modern Jews had for Jesus as a Jewish teacher. But he reiterated their rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims. And another workgroup member, Lili Simon, worked to explain Jesus’ comments that he was the only way to the Father. These comments, she suggested, did not exclude the Jews since, in context, he was speaking here of the path that his disciples should follow, not making any universal claim. Rabbi Geis, by contrast, reaffirmed the important theological differences between Judaism and Christianity, arguing “the things that separate us need to be allowed to remain; it would be a fundamental misunderstanding to not take these seriously or to try to discuss them away.” Nevertheless, all of these speakers called for Christian humility in relation to the Jews and for tolerance and continued discussion.75


DEKT 1961 – 430-440

Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag. Berlin 1961. Dokumente. Stuttgart: Kreuz Verlag, 1961. [DEKT 1961]

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1 January 1897 “To the Jew first” – Hudson Taylor sends donation to John Wilkinson #otdmijh

Happy New Year to all our readers!

“On this day in Messianic Jewish history” enters its 8th year – bringing you significant events in the life of Jewish believers in Yeshua. What are the events in the history of the Church and the Jewish people that have shaped Jewish expressions of faith in Yeshua? How have they impacted Jewish Christianity in the past and its contemporary expression in Messianic Judaism today?


As we begin a New Year we reflect on the principle and practice illustrated in the life of Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China, and John Wilkinson, founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews on the 1st of January 1897. I would also like to invite you to follow their example.

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On the first day of every year during his time as head of the China Inland Mission (now Overseas Missionary Fellowship), Hudson Taylor sent a donation by check to the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, London, on which was written, “To the Jew first.” And, at the same time, John Wilkinson, leader of the Mildmay Mission, sent his personal check to the China Inland Mission with the notation, “And also to the Gentile.”


The details are recorded by Mrs Hudson Taylor here:

And her last gift to the Rev. John Wilkinson expressed the deepest interest in his work among the Jews. Work among God’s ancient people occupied a special place in the prayerful sympathy of both Mr. and Mrs. Taylor ; and Mr. John Wilkinson, founder of the Mildmay Mission to the Jews, recalled an interesting phase of their long friendship. Taking advantage of a New Year’s Day spent at home (1897), Mr. Taylor went round to Mr. Wilkinson’s house with a brotherly note enclosing a gift for the Mission. ” To the Jew first,” were the words with which the cheque was accompanied. Mr. Wilkinson’s warm heart was touched, and he immediately wrote a brotherly reply, enclosing his own cheque for the same amount, with the words : ” And also to the Gentile.” This helpful interchange of sympathy was kept up ever after, the only change being that each doubled the amount of their contribution.


The exegesis of Romans 1:16 to argue for a ‘missional priority’ for Jewish evangelism, that the Jewish people remain today the starting point has not always been accepted. But today, as much as ever, believers in Yeshua have a responsibility towards the Jewish people which includes not only repentance and reconciliation, but sharing of the Good News of the Messiah of Israel as a priority.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the example of Hudson Taylor. Help us in our lives to live out his principles of faith and put them into practice. May we too have a right understanding of your love and concern for your Jewish people, and how best to show this. May this coming year be crowned with good things, and may Yeshua be made known as the glory of his people Israel. In our Messiah’s name. Amen.

If you are enjoying these posts, would you like to contribute to their production by sending a donation to support the work of the author? You can do this by selecting “Designation: Richard Harvey” here. You help is much appreciated, and will reflect the principle outlined by Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China.



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10 December 1933 Karl Barth preaches on the Jewishness of Jesus

This Advent sermon by Karl Barth, with its clarion call to challenge the growing power of Hitler, the Nazi party and the German Christian group, displays at the theological level the complex issues of faith, justice, protest and resistance that Barth, Bonhoeffer and others would demonstrate in the days to come. But it is all done in the language of preaching and exegesis of Scripture, and the message must be decoded and interpreted in the light of its context to see the radical nature of its confrontation with the incipient Third Reich. Below is the sermon in full with an introduction by John Michael Owen.

Prayer and reflection: As we sing the well-known Advent hymn we recognise how it has been used against the Jewish people over the centuries for foster anti-Judaism and antisemitism. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Messiah may we also welcome all Israel and all Nations to enjoy God’s love and hospitality, without judgment based on ethnic pride or theological prejudice. In our Messiah’s name we pray. Amen.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


 Romans 15:5-13, December 10, 1933 (2nd Advent), University Service in the Schlosskirche, Bonn. Tr. J. M. Owen. Colloquium 36, no. 2 (2004): 172-180.


Reflection: Jewish-Christian relations and Advent hymns

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July 10 1903/1983 Birth and Death of H L Ellison, Hebrew Christian Scholar and Gentleman #otdimjh

I am reblogging this with the addition of a copy of the last IHCA Theological Bulletin which Harry Ellison edited, from November 1979. He edited and largely wrote this bulletin three times per year, and it is full of his wit, wisdom and sharp observations on the biblical, theological and Hebrew Christian studies of his day – see https://www.dropbox.com/s/f7bo511il0w9zfm/Ellison%20IHCA%20Theology%201979.pdf?dl=0

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

Henry Leopold Ellison (July 10, 1903 Krakow, Poland – July 10, 1983 Dawlish), usually cited as H. L. Ellison, was a biblical scholar, professor, missionary, speaker, and author in the 1900s. His parents were Leopold Zeckhausen and Sara Jane Ellison. His father, being a Jewish Believer, was a missionary to the Jews throughout Europe.

He and his brother, Christian (a missionary in China), changed their last names from Zeckhausen to Ellison in 1925 to better assimilate into British society.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Ellison was an Anglican missionary to the Jews in Europe in the late 1920s and ’30s. However, after receiving Believer’s Baptism, he was kicked out of the Church of England. Upon his return to Britain, he held many positions in the academic realm as a respected Old Testament scholar and became associated with the Open Brethren.

He was a friend and colleague of F. F. Bruce.

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22 November 1963 Death of C S Lewis: Author, Apologist, Advocate for the Jewish people #otdimjh

“In a sense the converted Jew is the only normal human being in the world. To him, in the first instance, the promises were made, and he has availed himself of them. He calls Abraham his father by hereditary right as well as by divine courtesy. He has taken the whole syllabus in order, as it was set; eaten the dinner according to the menu. Everyone else is, from one point of view, a special case, dealt with under emergency regulations … we christened gentiles, are after all the graft, the wild vine, possessing ‘joys not promised to our birth’; though perhaps we do not think of this so often as we might.” (Forward to Smoke on the Mountain)

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963). He is best known for his works of fiction, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the Inklings. According to Lewis’s 1955 memoir Surprised by Joy, he was baptised in the Church of Ireland, but fell away from his faith during adolescence. Lewis returned to Anglicanism at the age of 32, owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, and he became an “ordinary layman of the Church of England”. Lewis’s faith profoundly affected his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

Lewis wrote more than 30 books which have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. The books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia have sold the most and have been popularised on stage, TV, radio, and cinema. His philosophical writings are widely cited by Christian apologists from many denominations.

Joy Davidman’s home in Headington, Oxford (with Andrew Barron)

In 1956, Lewis married American Jewish Christian writer Joy Davidman; she died of cancer four years later at the age of 45. Lewis died on 22 November 1963 from kidney failure, one week before his 65th birthday. In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of his death, Lewis was honoured with a memorial in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

C S Lewis’ Grave in Oxford

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the life, work and loves of C S Lewis, for you, for his wife Joy, and for your people Israel. May we be inspired by his creativity, wisdom, scholarship and personal faith, as we sail the Dawn Treader of our lives into shores unknown and adventures new. Help us persevere as we wrestle with the Problem of Pain and resist the temptations of Screwtape and his minions to distract us from the way of Aslan. In our Messiah Yeshua we pray. Amen

New Book by P H Brazier – published October 2021
https://wipfandstock.com/9781725291973/a-hebraic-inkling/An apologist, philosophical theologian, and Oxford academic, C. S. Lewis valued the Jewish religious tradition. Underpinning Lewis’s corpus is an enlightened, foundational respect for the Jews as God’s chosen people. Much of Lewis’s mature understanding came from his wife, Joy Davidman (Lewis referred to her as a Jewish Christian), born to American Jewish parents; she was an adult convert to Yeshua Ha Mashiach–Jesus Christ. A Hebraic Inkling, examines this Jewish-Hebrew heritage in Lewis’s life and works, by analyzing key texts: theological and philosophical, literary and apologetic, biblical. As a boy and young man he reflected much of the implicit anti-Semitism inherent to the public school educated Edwardian establishment; this is replaced by deep respect when he became a Christian. Along with the Hebrew Scriptures, we examine Lewis on Hebraic poetry (Reflections on the Psalms), the “The Incarnation Nation,” the Messiah in the Hebrew scriptures, supersessionism, Israel, his rigorous stand against anti-Semitism, and how Christians are enfolded into the chosen people. With marriage revelation gets deeply personal: a familial witness. When one of Joy’s children–David–sought to return to his mother’s birth-faith, Lewis moved all to accommodate his wishes and raise him as a Jew, after Joy’s untimely death.


On one of my office walls hang the pictures of eight Messianic Jewish Luminaries and below them is one lone picture of C.S. Lewis. People who come into my office often ask, “Who is that?” Although many people don’t know what he looked like, every time I tell them who it is a smile comes across their faces.

I have always loved the writings of C.S. Lewis since I was a small child at Christian summer camp. One of the activities we had was story time where a counselor would read one of the Narnia Chronicle books to us. It wasn’t long after that that I read the entire series myself. When I got older I read more of his theological stuff such as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. He is one of my favorite writers of all time and always seemed to communicate with such ease and grace.

While most believers are familiar with his works on some level, very few people know about his Jewish wife and the impact that she had upon him. Joy Davidman Gresham was of Jewish descent and had come to believe in Messiah after being an atheist for most of her life. Lewis wrote of her:

In a sense the converted Jew is the only normal human being in the world. To him, in the first instance, the promises were made, and he has availed himself of them. He calls Abraham his father by hereditary right as well as by divine courtesy. He has taken the whole syllabus in order, as it was set; eaten the dinner according to the menu. Everyone else is, from one point of view, a special case, dealt with under emergency regulations … we christened gentiles, are after all the graft, the wild vine, possessing “joys not promised to our birth”; though perhaps we do not think of this so often as we might. (Forward to Smoke on the Mountain)

While I balk a bit at the expression “converted Jew,” we must remember the time in which C.S. Lewis lived and wrote. From that perspective the respect and honor that he gives the Jewish people is profound and progressive and his words about Gentiles are sobering and certainly in line with the Apostle Paul’s warning, “Do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Romans 11:18).

He expresses a similar sentiment while commenting on the gospel story of the Syrophoenician woman:

I think to myself that the shocking reply to the Syrophoenician woman (it came alright in the end) is to remind all us Gentile Christians—who forget it easily enough or flirt with anti-Semitism—that the Hebrews are spiritually senior to us, that God did entrust the descendants of Abraham with the first revelation of Himself. (The Quotable Lewis, 348)

After Joy passed away from cancer Lewis continued to raise her two boys Douglas and David. While Douglas would go on to become a follower of Messiah like his mother, David became an Orthodox Jew and eventually took up the profession of a schochet (ritual slaughterer). While he still lived with C.S. Lewis, Lewis would provide him with kosher food, which was no small task in 1950s Oxford, England. This was certainly a testament to Lewis’ character and his compassion for the Jewish people.

On this day, November 22nd in 1963, Lewis passed on into the world of truth. May his writings continue to inspire us all, and may the humility he expressed as a Gentile believer toward the Jewish people be an example to us in the Messianic movement today.


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9 December 1995 Baptism and Passing of Gillian Rose, philosopher, cultural theorist and believer in Yeshua #otdimjh

Whilst Gillian Rose’s death occurred on the 9 December, I am re-blogging this now to alert readers of a special offer on a new book introducing Rose’s social philosophy, available on from Wipf and Stock for just $2.99 until 30 November 2021 (you may need to register to receive their email offer) – what a great way to enjoy her work and celebrate this extraordinarily gifted philosopher and Jewish disciple of Jesus.

On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

Whilst Gillian Rose’s death occurred on the 9 December, I am re-blogging this now to alert readers of a special offer on a new book introducing Rose’s social philosophy, available on from Wipf and Stock for just $2.99 until 30 November 2021 (you may need to register to receive their email offer) – what a great way to enjoy her work and celebrate this extraordinarily gifted philosopher and Jewish disciple of Jesus.

The Social Philosophy of Gillian Rose (Veritas Book 27) by [Andrew Brower Latz]

rose 2

“In the wake of the perceived demise of Marxism and of Heidegger’s Nazism, everybody’s looking for an ethics. But in fact they should be looking for a political theology.” – Gillian Rose

I am grateful to Rev. David Pileggi for drawing my attention to this outstanding Jewish Christian thinker, and reproduce here the obituaryin the Tabletthat appeared a month after her death.

tablet2 rose

Page 14, 6th January 1996

Last journey

The brilliant Jewish philosopher, Professor Gillian Rose…

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28 October 2021 Rochester Cathedral Dean Consecrates Messianic Jew #otdimjh

Historic Event at Rochester Cathedral – Jewish Disciples of Jesus Are Welcome!

On Thursday 28th October Paul Stevens, a Jewish disciple of Jesus, leader of the Havdalah Messianic Fellowship in Chislehurst, South London, and a member of the Anglican Church, was prayed for and consecrated as “A Messianic Jew with the Church”. The service was led by the Dean of Rochester Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Philip Hesketh, with participation from Gerry Cohen, the Vice-President of the British Messianic Jewish Alliance, and music from Jonathan Newman, of the Barn Torah Group Community, Woking.

The service, prepared by Rev. Alex Jacob, the CEO of the Church’s Ministry Among the Jewish People (CMJ), affirmed the presence, gifts and calling of Jewish people who have become followers of Jesus, but see no need to renounce their Jewish heritage and identity.  Rather they are to celebrate it as part of their special role within the Church and among the Jewish people. Paul gave a moving testimony to how his father, a refugee from Odessa, Ukraine, changed his surname from  Shlisselman to Stevens, and Paul discovered more of his own Jewish identity when he came to a living and personal faith in Jesus as his Messiah and Lord. His own journey of self-discovery led him to the realisation that he had been entrusted with a “special ministry of reconciliation” as a member of two distinct communities that did not know or understand each other, far less see their mutual bond.

“It became more and more obvious to me that the predominantly Gentile church didn’t really see who Jesus was, nor indeed recognise the Jewish identity of the apostles and the early Christian community. To me there was something fundamentally missing from the Gentile conception of Jesus that I had known.” Paul remarked in his address.

The service recognised and affirmed this calling, as Paul has expressed it, “to witness to the synagogue that it is no betrayal of Torah or of Judaism to follow the messiah Jesus and to remind the church that Christianity is at root a renewed form of Judaism. And if true reconciliation is possible then there surely will be peace.”

The Dean called on those present, friends, family, church leaders, representatives of the British Messianic Jewish Alliance, members of the Rochester Spirituality Network and Cathedral staff, to affirm and support Paul in this ministry, anointing him with oil and praying for him:

“Most merciful God and Father, You have set your church in the world to bear a living witness to the gospel and you equip us with the gifts to do this. Forgive us when we undermine the Gospel and misunderstand your ways. We thank You for the unity within diversity of your Church and today we thank you for and celebrate the presence within the Church of Messianic Jews, that is of Jewish Believers in Jesus. We rejoice in the significance of this and the promise of blessing this brings. We pray now for Paul Louis and as I now anoint him with this oil we ask that you will anoint him afresh with your Holy Spirit. Protect, guide and empower him so that in the fullness of your plans Paul Louis may walk closely with you and bring many blessings to the Church and to the wider Jewish community. All this we ask in the Name of Jesus Messiah of Israel and LORD of all. Amen.”

The service included the saying of the Shema and the Aaronic Benediction (Numbers 6:25) in Hebrew, and a calling on those present “to root out all forms of anti-semitism from our church community and wider society.”

The service sets a historic precedent for the recognition and welcoming of Jewish disciples of Jesus within the Anglican Church. It also raises again the ongoing challenge of responding to the statues of Ecclesia and Synagoga (Church and Synagogue) that have adorned the entrance to the Cathedral Chapter Room (now the Chapter Library) since the 14th century. The two female figures represent Ecclesia and Synagoga, the Christian Church and the Jewish people. Synagoga holds a broken staff and the tables of the law held upside down, wearing a blindfold to symbolise ignorance of the Messiah. They reflect that belief that Judaism as a religion was made unnecessary after the coming of Christ. It is starkly anti-Semitic, dating from some 50 years after the Jews were expelled from England in 1290.

Can the welcome, recognition and consecration of Paul Stevens begin to make amends and put right the centuries old “teaching of contempt” that led to modern antisemitism?

Paul Stevens – –  Testimony here   

Service of Consecration here


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10 November 1483 Happy Birthday, Martin Luther! #otdimjh

How can Messianic Jews given thanks for the birth of Martin Luther, when his life, literature and legacy are so filled with anti-Judaism and led to terrible acts of antisemitism?

I have tried to answer this question in my book “Luther and the Jews: Putting Right the Lies” where I look forward to dancing a hora (Jewish circle dance) in Heaven with him. He will have repented of his views and I will have forgiven him.


But today we still bear the legacy of his life and work both negatively and positively. His birthday was celebrated by the burning of synagogues and looting and destruction of Jewish homes and businesses:

Today Yachad BeYeshua has a webinar for its members on the third of its Core Values: Love for the Body of the Messiah. Despite the presence of Christian anti-Judaism, Supersessionism and continuing hostility to Jews and Judaism we are commanded not only to love our enemies and seek reconciliation with them, but to have a right love, respect and commitment to the Body of the Messiah – “the Church”. That is why I give thanks for Martin Luther as well as pray for his wrongs to be put right.

Today there is also much discussion about the Judensau – “Jew Pig” on the wall of his parish church in Wittenberg:



Removal Not Enough!

NOV 9, 2021 — Josef Schuster: Removal is still not a matter of course –

The education department’s conference discusses how to deal with anti-Semitic images and abusive sculptures on and in churches

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has called on the churches to distance themselves even more from anti-Jewish sculptures and pictures on their places of worship. “For a long time the public display of insulting, anti-Jewish representations was neither dealt with nor commented critically.”

“A lot has changed about that, even if distancing is still not a matter of course,” he said on Sunday evening in Berlin at the opening of the symposium “Ban on images ?! On dealing with anti-Semitic images and abusive sculptures on and in churches «. The three-day conference is organized by the education department in the Central Council of Jews in cooperation with the Evangelical Church in Germany, the Research Institute for Social Cohesion (FGZ) and the Evangelical Academy in Berlin.

My prayer is that Jewish and Christian leaders in Germany may find a way to express repentance, reconciliation and renewal of relationships by relocating such objects to a place where they no longer desecrate sacred space and tarnish public space – a place where forgiveness can be asked for and given.

What Birthday Presents for Luther today? Repentance and Forgiveness

Luther explains “Forgive us our sins”:

The fifth petition. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Say:
“O dear Lord, God and Father, enter not into judgment against us because no man living is justified before thee. Do not count it against us as a sin that we are so unthankful for thine ineffable goodness,
spiritual and physical, or that we stray into sin many times every day, more often than we can know or
recognize, Psalm 19. Do not look upon how good or how wicked we have been but only upon the infinite compassion which thou hast bestowed upon us in Christ, thy dear Son. Grant forgiveness also to
those who have harmed or wronged us, as we forgive them from our hearts. They inflict the greatest injury upon themselves by arousing thy anger in their actions toward us. We are not helped by their ruin;
we would much rather that they be saved with us. Amen.” (Anyone who feels unable to forgive, let him
ask for grace so that he can forgive; but that belongs in a sermon.)

Just as Luther prays, so we ask God to forgive us our sins and to be able to forgive others. In Yeshua our Messiah’s name. Amen

A free copy of my book “Luther and the Jews” if you email me at removejudensau1″at”gmail.com with your postal address!

I particularly like the devotional quality of Luther’s writings – here is something he wrote on prayer –

A Simple Way To Pray
Martin Luther
Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments, and the Creed.
A Letter to His Barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, Spring 1535

This in short is the way I use the Lord’s Prayer when I pray it. To this day I suckle at the Lord’s
Prayer like a child, and as an old man eat and drink from it and never get my fill. It is the very best
prayer, even better than the psalter, which is so very dear to me. It is surely evident that a real master
composed and taught it. What a great pity that the prayer of such a master is prattled and chattered so
irreverently all over the world! How many pray the Lord’s Prayer several thousand times in the course
of a year, and if they were to keep on doing so for a thousand years they would not have tasted nor
prayed one iota, one dot, of it! In a word, the Lord’s Prayer is the greatest martyr on earth (as are the
name and word of God). Everybody tortures and abuses it; few take comfort and joy in its proper use.

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7 November 1982 Death of Peter Schneider, Jewish Refugee, Anglican Priest, Rainbow Group Founder #otdimjh

Canon Herman Peter Schneider (1928-1982) was born of Jewish parents in Czechoslovakia. He came to England at the age of 10 as a refugee from Nazi persecution. He was subsequently brought up as a Christian and ordained in the Church of England in 1954. Following a London curacy, he became chaplain at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. In 1960, he went to Israel as chaplain to St Luke’s, Haifa. In 1964, he became Adviser to the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem in Jewish-Christian Relations, pioneering dialogue and mutual understanding between Jews and Christians beyond the bounds of his own denomination, In 1973, he returned to England and continued this work through the Church of England and numerous ecumenical organisations while serving in parishes in Suffolk and Sussex.

Black and white photograph showing the exterior of Lammas | Courtesy of Chiselhurst Society Ribbons Collection
https://www.bromleyfirstworldwar.org.uk/content/places/lammas-vad-hospital-chislehurst The old Victorian detached house played a significant role in the Second World War when it became home to young Jewish refugees rescued from Prague by the Barbican Mission for the Jews. A bench at the end of Lubbock Road commemorates this episode. The Mission continued to provide a home for children into the late 1950s.

I have been researching the life of Peter Schneider, who was a friend of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain but focused his activity of Jewish-Christian relations and the place of dialogue. He was a much loved founder of the Rainbow Groups in Jerusalem and London, and an influential member of the Council of Christians and Jews.

Reflection: At his funeral the Archbishop of York preached in Westminster Abbey on the text of Isaiah 53:11 “He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied”.  Thank you Lord, for your servant Peter Schneider, and the travail of his soul to bring Jews and Christians together in healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual support. May we as Jewish disciples of Yeshua continue to be ambassadors of your reconciling love, that restores us to yourself and to one another. In your Suffering Servant Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

Below are some articles about him:

Rainbow Group material for 1978-80. –

Many other names should be recorded here: Rev. Peter Schneider, Canon of the Anglican Church who worked for mutual understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Christians both in Israel and Britain. He founded the Jerusalem and London Rainbow Groups as well as the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel. He was secretary to the advisers of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on interfaith matters. https://www.notredamedesion.org/archived/www.notredamedesion.org/en/dialogue_docs17d7.html?a=3b&id=574

A Unique Childhood Memoir of Life in Wartime Britain in the Shadow of the HolocaustBy Vera Gissing



The emergence of the Kindertransport in Prague: the Barbican Mission to the Jews, a unique endeavour




He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.  Issiah 53, 11 Memorial service for Canon Peter Schneider Westminster Abbey, London 25/01/1983


Click to access Immanuel_15_105.pdf


Sweeter than honey : Christian presence amid Judaism / Peter Schneider; introduction by M.A.C. Warren.

Schneider, Peter, 1928-1982.London : SCP Press; 1966

Rainbow group – London and Jerusalem


Jerusalem Perspectives edited with Geoffrey Wigoder

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3 November 2021 Funeral of Father Gregor Pawlowski (Jacob Zvi Hersz Griner) in Israel and Poland #otdimjh


Father Gregor in Israel

Childhood with family

Father Gregor Pawlowski was born in Poland as a Jew on August 23,1931 to his parents, Mendel son of Zeev and Miriam daughter of Isaac Griner. His name was Jacob (Jakub) Zvi “Hersch” (Hersz) Griner. His family lived in the town of Zamosc which was in the region of Lublin. The family had four children: two sons, Hayim and Jacob Zvi, and two daughters, Schindel and Sura (Yiddish for Sarah). Hayim was the oldest and Jacob Zvi was the youngest, the Benjamin of his parents. He was called “Hersch” at home which was the Yiddish translation of the Hebrew Zvi (which means deer). The family had a small business, trading in wood and coal, and they were not very well off. They were very religious. On Sabbath and holidays the children accompanied their parents to synagogue. Father Gregor remembers the Jewish holidays which were celebrated with great devotion. At home, the family spoke Yiddish (the Jewish German dialect of Eastern European Jews) but as a child he learnt some Hebrew from a “melamed” (a Jewish teacher) in the “heder” (the Jewish school). He has good memories of that time. He knew a little Polish which he learnt from Polish peasants in the village where his parents rented a grove of fruit trees. Relations between Poles and Jews were generally good even if that was not always the case.

The older brother of the family, Hayim, read newspapers and he said that the situation of the Jews would be very bad if the Germans entered Poland. No one in the family thought it would happen so quickly. In 1939, the year Hersch was supposed to begin first grade, the Second World War began, In his memory is engraved the sound of the German fighter planes that dropped bombs. The family house was consumed in flames and they had to move in with relatives. After a short time, the Russians entered Zamosc and announced that whoever wanted to go with them to Russia could do so. Among those who left was Hayim who, it would seem, already sensed what was to come. After some time the letters from him stopped coming.

For the Jews a very difficult period of Nazi occupation began. The parents of the family dealt in trade in order to get something to eat. The sisters helped the parents and on market days lent a bucket to the peasants and also carried water themselves in order to water the horses in exchange for some money. Also the boy Hersch helped to provide for the family. For example, in autumn when the peasants brought the produce of the fields for the Nazis, he would hang onto the carts in order to get his hands on some potatoes, leeks or even a bit of cabbage. Often he was lashed with the whip but who noticed when one was suffering the pangs of hunger.

Hunger forced one to steal. Jewish children broke shop windows and stole whatever could be stolen. Hersch followed them. He picked up an alarm clock but the guard caught him and brought him before the Jewish Council of the community. “Why are you stealing boy?” they asked him. “So that I can get some money for food to eat,” he replied. They took the clock from him and gave him some money.

One day, the Germans caught some Jews and among them the father of the family. Hersch feared that something bad might happen to his father. He drew close to him and a German soldier began to shout at him and wanted to beat him. Hersch burst into tears and his father came to him quickly and embraced him. He turned to the soldier and said: “This is my son, do not hurt him”. The soldier did nothing but his father ordered him to return home and not to worry about him. The Germans forced his father and the other Jews to ride on horses and made fun of them. The ordered them to mount the horses and then whipped the horses. His father had never ridden a horse before and so it was no wonder that he fell off.

After some time, all the Jews of Zamosc were transferred to a neighborhood that was declared a ghetto. They lived there in constant fear. Almost every day there were frightening events. For example, a short time after they had moved to the ghetto, the Germans came to one house and brought out a Jew. His wife was trembling all over and begged them to let her give a coat to her husband. The Germans answered that he was in no need of a coat. The killed him in the street without any reason and left his body lying there.

The father of the family worked forced labor for the Germans. One day, before leaving for work, he said farewell to everyone and expressed doubts that he would return. He was told that if he felt that way it would be best that he not go. He said that he had to go. He embraced each one of the family and went on his way, his eyes filled with tears. That day his father did not return. Hersch waited for his father outside in the street. He even ran after a man who looked like his father from behind. However, he was disappointed. Everyone wept that day. It was an enormous blow for the family.

Some time after the disappearance of the father, the Germans destroyed the Zamosc ghetto. The Jews were marched to the town of Izbica and housed in the homes of the Jews who had already been deported from the town. Shortly thereafter, there was an Akzion (the arrest of Jews) and many people tried to hide including the mother and her three children. They found shelter in a shop cellar in the town but the cry of a baby alerted the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators and they entered the dark place and arrested everyone. The boy Hersch managed to escape and the curious Poles who had gathered around had mercy on him and allowed him to run away without drawing the attention of the Nazis to him. They took the people out of the cellar and brought them to fire station. There they were held in freezing cold for about ten days without food and anyone attempting escape was shot. They brought out groups of tens and took them to the town cemetery. There pits were prepared and the Jews were made to stand on the edge of the pits and were shot. Thus, about a thousand Jews from Zamosc and among them Hersch’s mother and two sisters were murdered.

Life alone in the dark days of the Shoah

Hersch fled to the edge of the town of Izbica and there a Pole directed him to a house where he might find food and shelter. The next day, the people of that house feared to keep him any longer and he again sought shelter. He entered a courtyard and lay in a pile of wood which had been gathered for heating. There too the residents of the house identified him as a Jew and he was again forced to flee.

Hersch returned to Zamosc and found refuge with acquaintances of the family. He entered the area of a forced labor camp and found there a bed and some warmth. Thus he wandered from camp to street and from street to camp. Sometimes people pitied him and took him under their protection. One Jewish woman, whose son had been murdered by the Nazis, took him to her hut and fed him there. As she carried him on her shoulders, she told him: “When I carry you I feel like you are the son they took from me”.

The Poles taught him the prayers of their Catholic religion. One day a Jewish boy asked him in the street whether he wanted to live. Hirsch answered: “Yes!” Then the boy explained that he need to acquire a Catholic baptism certificate. The boy told him to wait a moment and brought him a baptism certificate. From that time on, Hersch adopted the details that were written in the document. The name on the document was Gregor (Grzegorz) Pawlowski and from that time on he bore this Polish name.

One day, as he was warming himself in the booth of the Jewish guard of a forced labor camp, two Nazi soldiers entered and began to interrogate him. They even took him to the Gestapo headquarters. He showed them the baptism certificate and was released. With danger hovering over him constantly, Hersch/Gregor was permanently on the run, fearing that someone might identify him as a Jew. Once he was in the house of some Poles. A government bureaucrat came to the house and asked who the boy was. “An orphan,” they answered and the bureaucrat said that he would send staff from the orphanage to take him. Gregor fled from the place, fearing they would know her was a Jew when they discovered that he was circumcised.

In own village, he found work as a cowherd. Finally he found a family who took care of him and in their home he began to learn how to read and write in Polish. One summer day, when he was out with the cows of this family, the cows ran away from him. The sister of the master of the house screamed “Jew” at him and again he was forced to flee. Again he found refuge, again he fled either because of fear or mistreatment.

Finally, the end of the war arrived. He went out to see the Red Army of the Russians which entered to liberate Poland. He abandoned his work with the cows. When he returned home to the place where he was living he was told that he was fired. They gave him a shirt in return for the month’s work. He went on his way without knowing where he was going. On the road, a cart passed by and the peasants asked him where he was going. When he revealed to them that he had no home and that he was an orphan they invited him to join them. Thus, he reached a village next to the city of Tomaszov-Lubelski. Gregor felt ill and the peasants advised him to go to the Red Cross in the city. There he was brought to a doctor who wrote a letter so that he would receive free treatment in the hospital. From the hospital he returned to the Red Cross and from there he was placed in an orphanage run by two Catholic nuns. There were only seven children there in the beginning. One of the nuns registered him in school and he began grade 2 but after two weeks was already put up to grade 3. In the summer he completed grade 4.

When he was transferred to another orphanage, he met with a priest who came to prepare the children for first communion. Gregor did not say that he was a Jew but he had to explain to the priest that he had not been baptized. The priest, who did not fully believe the boy, baptized him on condition (that he had not been baptized before). He received baptism on June 27, 1945 when he was almost 14 years old.

Gregor as a scout

Gregor completed school in the city of Polawy and during his years at school he served the Church faithfully. He was a very religious youth and defended the Church when he heard the critique of a Communist party member who came to lecture against the Church and religion to an audience of young people. He was even called in for questioning by the secret police because of his religious positions. The secret police wanted him to spy on the nuns and he firmly refused. Despite his refusal, he finished high school.

Entry into the seminary and a new life as a priest

Gregor at end of high school

When he finished high school, Gregor was accepted as a seminarian in the major seminary in Lublin. At that time, only one nun knew that he was a Jew. When he had already taken the robe of a seminarian and was in his second year of studies he told the rector of the seminary that he was a Jew. After the rector had consulted with the bishop, he told Gregor that there was no interdiction for a Jew to be a priest. However, some of the other priests feared that when Gregor would become a priest he would have problems in the parish when the faithful found out that he was a Jew. Gregor continued his studies and completed them.

Seminarians in Lublin

On April 20, 1958, Gregor was ordained to the priesthood. The nuns from the orphanage hosted the celebration because he was alone in the world.

Gregor’s ordination card

Gregor began to work as a priest in different towns and villages in the diocese of Lublin. In 1966, on the thousandth anniversary of Christianity in Poland, Gregor published and article that told his story in a Catholic newspaper in Cracow that had national distribution. The article made its way too Israel where relatives living in Bat Yam read the story. They contacted Gregor’s brother Hayim who was living in Haifa and that very day he came to Bat Yam. On reading the story, he said: “This is my brother!”

In those years, Gregor was also in contact with Father Daniel Rufeisen, who had arrived in Israel at the end of the fifties, he too a Polish Jew who had became a Catholic priest within the Carmelite order. Gregor began to think about aliyah (immigration to Israel) but before he left Poland he wanted to arrange the place where his mother and sisters had been buried. There he established a monument, a short distance from the cemetery in Izbica, where they had been executed. He also put in order the mass graves in which the bodies of the murdered had been thrown.

The inscription on the memorial (in Polish and Hebrew) says:

For I know that my redeemer lives
And that at the last he will stand upon the earth
(Job 19:25)

To the eternal memory of our dear parents
Mendel son of Zeev and Miriam daughter of Isaac Griner of blessed memory
And our sisters Shindel and Sarah of blessed memory
And also of all the Jews murdered and buried in this cemetery
In the month of Kislev 5703
By the Nazi murderers and profaners of God’s commandments

With gratitude to God for being saved
We establish this monument
Father Gregor Pawlowski
Jacob Zvi Griner – Poland
Hayim Griner – Israel

The monument in Izbica

Next to the mass graves, Gregor also established a burial plot for himself and on the head stone he had inscribed in Hebrew and in Polish:

Father Gregor Pawlowski
Jacob Zvi Griner
Son of Mendel and Miriam of blessed memory

I abandoned my family
In order to save my life at the time of the Shoah

They came to take us for extermination

My life I saved and have consecrated it
To the service of God and humanity

I have returned to them this place
Where they were murdered for the sanctification of God’s name
May their souls be set in eternal life

Gregor arrives in Israel

Gregor decided to immigrate to Israel in 1970. He was received at the airport by Father Daniel Rufeisen, priest in Haifa, and Father Alfred Delmée, priest in Jaffa, and by his family including his brother Hayim. He spent some time with his family and then accepted the invitation of Father Delmée to comer and live in Jaffa and serve the Polsish speaking community there. The priest of the community was elderly and sick. In that time Gregor learnt Hebrew at an ulpan (language school) in Bat Yam.

Father Gregor in Israel

Since then and for the past 38 years, Gregor has been serving both the Polish and Hebrew speaking communities. For 38 years he has lived in Jaffa and has traveled the length and breadth of the country educating children, encouraging believers and visiting the sick. Gregor has shown us a model of what a faithful priest should be, serving God and humanity.

When Gregor was asked why he wanted to come to Israel, he replied:

“My place is here, among the Jewish people. I sensed a call to come and serve Christians living in my country.”

When asked why it was important to tell his story, Gregor replied:

“I did not want to live a lie. I did not want to deny my roots, my mother, my father, my people. I want to be truthful. Thus, I have a homeland and that is Poland and I belong to the Polish people. However, I have a nation that is first – the Jewish people. I was circumcised on the eighth day and I belong. I belong both to Poland and to Israel. I cannot speak against Poles because they saved me and I cannot speak against Jews because I am one of them.”

Father Gregor at the ordination of Bishop Jean Baptiste, 2003

With thanks to Fr. David M. Neuhaus SJ in Jerusalem for this material

Father David Neuhaus, S.J. writes: However it is his funeral (a mass and prayer in Jaffa and then his burial in Poland) that is no less remarkable. I send here an article in Hebrew but which contains images from this extraordinary event that brought together Catholics and Jews… We have published the book Gregor wrote, Know the Messiah, written as a teaching tool for the religious education classes Gregor has given to tens of children over the years.


The Jerusalem Post also published the story:https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/the-jew-who-became-a-priest-and-will-be-buried-as-a-jew-683649

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