There is a tender bond between Jewish parents and their children. Instruction begins early with readings from the Torah, weekly Sabbath observances, and annual feasts. All this in hopes that the laws will be engraved upon their young souls and last a lifetime.
Parents invest deeply so that their offspring recognize God as Father and as the creator of the world. When children diverge from this path, some parents’ extreme actions are hard for us to understand. Such was the case with Sandy Shoshani. Sandy is now the Director of Be’ad Chaim, a pro-life organization that supports pregnant women, young mothers, and new babies with 12 centers throughout Israel.
Here’s her story in her own words:
I grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home and went to overnight Jewish camps during my childhood. I knew all the prayers, but I longed to know God. I sought him in cults and drugs without success.
In college, my Catholic roommate came in one day and said, “I came to faith in Jesus Christ today.” Then her life changed and I became jealous. I became more religious, but only got depressed.
After I screamed at a dorm member one night, she yelled back, “Go change yourself!” All I could do was weep because I knew I didn’t have the power to change a thing. Finally, at 3:00 a.m. a Christian friend who had heard me came and asked, “What is wrong?”
I cried, “I don’t know. My situation is great, but my heart is rotten!”
She explained to me that Christianity was a living relationship between God and his people (Jew and Gentile) through Yeshua the Messiah and that its roots were thoroughly Jewish. She showed me scriptures from the Old and New Testaments and then said, “If you call out to Jesus to change you and nothing happens, no one will know. It is just you and me at 3:00 in the morning. However, if he does do something, then you’ve won everything.”
All my life I had been told that if I accepted Jesus, I would lose my Jewishness. The food, relationships, and rich Jewish culture would no longer have a place in my life. I would be dishonoring my parents because identifying with Christians was identifying with anti-Semitic murderers. However, in my desperate state, I prayed and my faithful Father cleansed my heart and gave me peace. I realized that I was not a Jew who changed her religion, but a sinner set free from sin. Jesus was Jewish and so was I.
During Christmas break my Jewish Orthodox father questioned, “How could anyone believe in a virgin birth?”
Despite the fact that valuing family had been ingrained in me since infancy, I said, “Yeah, maybe there is something to that.”
Mom raised her eyebrows, Put down her fork and asked, “Do you believe in Jesus now?”
I nodded my head, and Mom mumbled, “Oh this is her newest thing. She is only 18. This too shall pass.” When it had not passed by March, Mom and Dad got concerned. They sent me to rabbis and tried to reason with me.
I was still a Christian two years later when Mom got cancer. The Jewish doctor and my father both said, “Unless you stop believing in Jesus, your mother will die. If you deny Jesus as Messiah, she’ll live.”
You can’t stop believing in something that you know is true, I thought. You can’t turn it off and on like a faucet.
I refused to give up Jesus, but Dad made me promise I would marry a Jewish man. I promised.
Mom died. To honor my mother, Dad sent me to a brain-washing institution to reprogram me back to Judaism. The counselor persuaded me that I killed my mother and that if I continued to believe in Jesus my father would also die. To avoid this I was told not to read the New Testament, pray in Jesus’ name, have anything to do with anything Christian and deny the Lord publically.
Unfortunately, I did those things for a time, but God has forgiven me.
For 40 years, I said that I forgave that counselor, but I couldn’t bear to look at his face. Last year God brought a remarkable healing. I was translating in a meeting about forgiving yourself and letting go. Suddenly I saw his face in my mind and then the Lord said, “Let go! You are forgiven, forgive yourself. It is not you anymore!” My identity card is not the one who denied the Lord.
In a final attempt to get me on the right track, I was sent to Israel to study in a Jewish school. During my layover in London, The Lord asked me to read Psalms 40: 1-4. It says, ‘I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in him . . .’ After reading these verses, it felt as if warm oil was flowing from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I just basked in the Lord’s presence and trusted my Jesus completely.
I rejoiced when I landed in Jerusalem and took a cab to the school. There were no dorms, but I was alone so they let me stay in the infirmary. A rabbi talked to me in the morning and asked me if I was a believer in Yeshua and I happily said yes.
“If that is the case, you cannot study here, and you must leave,” he told me. “You can stay here for a few nights until you find a place to live, but then you are out.” I couldn’t go back home, so I went to the wailing wall and prayed. I wandered around and passed a little bookstore. The Lord told me to go in and ask the man behind the counter his religion. He was a Jewish believer in Jesus. My roommate had given me names of three people she knew in Jerusalem and it so happened that one of them walked in the door of that bookstore moments later. This man took me to his church, the believers there helped me find an apartment, and I made friends. I began to study Hebrew and got a job as a speech therapist.
Later, the church asked to pray for a guy who was debating about making a profession of faith. A week later, I met this same young Jewish man who had just accepted Christ. We talked and he wanted to be with other believers. His name was Oded. We have now been married for 36 years, have seven children and nine grandchildren. He is Jewish and a Messianic pastor.
I kept my promise.
Romans 11:25 says, “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in.” The good news is that at the end, the Jewish people will turn to Jesus as a nation and that, “All Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26).
May Sandy’s father be among them.