SHAL@@@@@M! Izzy here. As you've probably read here, we're all about following Yeshua in a Hebrew way. For us, learning Hebrew is an expression of our discipleship to our Rabbi from Nazareth.
Ahem, notice the Hebrew part of that. Hebrew is a language, and like other languages, there are better and worse ways of picking it up. I just read this collection of tips from language experts - "12 Experts Reveal How to Improve Your English Accent" - and thought sooooome of it just might apply to improving your Hebrew pronuncation and accent, too?
And join our tribe's conversation about the article here! (You'll need to be subscribed and a member of our secret Facebook group for the link to work)
Oh. One other thing. You'll notice several experts suggested "shadowing". Did you know this is part of our organic learning philosophy? Which is why we have two different versions of the Hebrew audio Bible on our website! Log in here, then listen here.
Matthew is following Yeshua in a Hebrew way! Here's his story.
One of the strongest memories I have, is visiting with my grandmother after school one day when I was in 1st grade. We had just made peanut butter cookies, and I was telling her about my day at school, and my new friend Adam, who I had just found out was Jewish. I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I remember exactly what she said to me. "Matthew Aaron", if she ever said both my first and middle name, I knew that I had better be listening to her.
She began to tell me, "Matthew Aaron, I am going to tell you a secret about our family. We are Jews."
"But you must be very careful who you tell, because the world is not always safe for us."
I Asked her why?!
She began to tell me how "not too long ago, some really bad people gained control in Europe, and they thought that all the Jews should die" "and very many Jews did die, because they could not get away, and there was nowhere to hide"
She said "the bad people made it almost impossible for the Jews to leave the country, to find a safe place" but that her grandmother had left Europe before it was too hard for the Jews to leave."
Again she said, "you must be very careful who you tell, because there are still many places and people in the world who do not like Jews."
By the time I was born, my Jewish grandmother was practicing as a Christian, so was my mom & dad, even though my dad also came from a Jewish family. As a "Christian" family we went to church on Sunday's, we celebrated Easter and Christmas, we even ate bacon!
Even in all of this, there were also times when we were different than other Christians that I knew, we celebrated Passover and had a family night every Friday night were my mom would light candles on the dinner table and they would burn while we ate, and my dad would read stories from the Old Testament. My mother raised me with Bible stories, and every day I was required to read a chapter of Proverbs, and the Old Testament.
When I was 13, my grandmother wanted to have an official Bar Mitzvah for me, but my parents didn't know any other Jews, and we didn't go to a synagogue. So it came down to my grandmother as the family matriarch, she said to me "Matthew Aaron" again with the first and middle names, she said "it is customary to tell you now at this age, that you are a man, and old enough to follow the instruction of God and read the bible and obey it without me or your parents having to tell you to". That was my bar mitzvah.
Growing up, there were times that I asked my dad about his Jewish family history, but my dad was a human version of Fort Knox, he only told you what he thought you needed to hear. So I never got much from him about it. Only that his mother was born in a Jewish family, "but now we are Christian, so don't worry about it".
For a while I tried to do what my dad said, But I never got over the feeling that something was missing. Then I got into my teen aged years, and I noticed how our Jewish family traditions were fading away, my little brother never got his Bar Mitzvah "talk" from the family elder, we stopped celebrating the Passover, and Friday night's candlelight family Bible study stopped.
I grew into classic 90s teenager with angst towards just about everything, I was never fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. As I watched the disfunction of my parents relationship, and how my family and all my other friends who also professed Jesus, never had a concrete answer about anything in the Bible. I thought "this just can’t be the real deal". All I saw was the hypocrisy. The contradiction to what I was raised reading in the bible. To me, this became like a void space in my life, deep down I knew that I should be doing something that I wasn't doing, especially when the holidays would come around. It became a cycle of depression for me around the high holidays, or any Jewish holiday for that matter.
I felt in my heart, that I was missing something. That I should be part of something that is happening at that moment, but I was lost to finding out what it was. Because I had no one who was willing or able to show me.
I deeply longed to be connected with my Jewishness. The day my grandmother told me that I was Jewish often rang in my memories, even to this day. I often asked my grandmother to tell me about her mother and grandmother. Anything I could glean to know who we were back then, and why we are the way we are now. I would hear stories of how my great great grandmother and her daughter used to have secret conversations in Yiddish when they didn't want my grandmother to know what was being said. My grandmother used to tell me, "Matthew Aaron, we are blessed to have been saved from the holocaust, because my grandmother left when she did. But not all of our family was saved." my grandmother told me, that once my great great grandmother was in the USA, she married a Jewish Christian, and to keep themselves safe from the rising anti-semitism they hid their Jewishness.
Later I also I also discovered that my dad’s mother, confided in my mom that her family had perished in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Now I was able to understand my grandmother, and my dad. I saw that they were raised in a very hard period of history. They were raised to hide. My father was actually born in 1940, before the Jews in Auschwitz were liberated. He was probably raised in extreme fear. I think that is why our traditions faded.
When I was 14 I became very sick with bronchitis, and as a child I already had a few illnesses that I lived with. As a baby the doctors discovered I had a spinal curvature right between my shoulder blades, this caused a unique kind of nerve damage to my lungs, giving me shortness of breath and symptoms that resembled asthma. I had no arches in my feet. And when I turned 15, I developed arthritis in my knees. I had an ear infection that got so bad it caused a hole to develop in my left eardrum. The summer I came down with bronchitis, it lasted until I was 16. Yes, that's right. I had chronic bronchitis from the ages 14-16. Needless so say that by this point in high school, I had no athletic aspirations.
The summer I turned 16, my mother dragged me to a church that she had been visiting. I hated church meetings. I hated church, and I was on the fence about Jesus. Ministers from every church my family ever visited had prayed for me to be healed and to fully accept Jesus, but I was never healed. I was burnt out. Due to the nature of my chronic illnesses, I had become severely depressed, and borderline suicidal.
At this church meeting, for the first time in my life, I saw that God is still the God of miracles.
The meeting lasted 7 weeks, every night of the week. There were people every single night who God healed from various kinds of injuries and sicknesses. At about the 7th week of this meeting, a girl I knew who was in the youth group, this girl was deaf. I knew her. I knew she was deaf. I had taken sign language as a course in high school, and I had spoken to her in sign language. One night during the 6th week, God healed her and she could hear. She was completely made whole. I spoke to her after the meeting and she heard my voice. Now it was all becoming real to me. Now it was hitting home.
The next night, the preacher said that God told him that a young man was here and that the young man needed a miracle in the spine. It was me. Now, I did not respond at first, of course not. Like any responsible Jew, I tested it. I put out a fleece to God and said to Him, "well, if that's really for me, the preacher will call for my spine again", and he did. Several more times during that night he called for a boy who needed a miracle in the spine, and every single time I chickened out.
The last call, the meeting was wrapping up. The preacher said once more to the crowd, "son you've been hiding in the crowd all night, you've been hiding from who you are, and from God your whole life, and now the God of heaven wants to make Himself real to you by giving you a miracle in your spine. Please come." I found myself walking up the the front of the room, I wasn't sure exactly how or when I got up from my seat. But I made it to the front, and I was weeping. By the time I got to the front of the room, something tangible had happened to me. I stopped dead in my tracks and fell to the floor sideways, I could hear the preacher calling to an usher to catch me, but only the floor caught me. As I was there on the floor, I felt a warm feeling all over. It was like being all wrapped up in a fluffy blanket that was fresh out of the dryer, but it was much more than that, I felt loved. I felt the love of God.
As I lay there I could not stop weeping, I heard the voice of Yeshua. He said to me "Matthew, I am the Messiah. I am healing your body" in utter shock that I was hearing this, all I could do was to say thank you!
As I lay there I felt my body shifting and adjusting. I felt my spine move and straighten. I felt arches press into my feet. I felt a warm oil begin to swirl in my ear, and the whole was filled. I felt my lungs open up fully for the first time in my life. I felt the airways clear and the bronchitis leave. I felt an electric tingle all over my body, still wrapped up in this warm fluffy blanket of tangible God-love.
When I got up, to go back to my seat. I discovered that 3 hours had passed. And that after I had gone up for prayer, the Spirit moved again and the meeting had kept going this whole time. I was healed. Completely healed. I went back to all my doctors whom I had seen on a regular basis for maintenance. I had new X-rays taken. New blood work done. The doctor told my mom, this is not the same boy I saw the last time he was here!
I learned that the preacher who I had just spent 7 weeks with had a Bible school which he lead in another state, and that he was only a guest speaker at the church. So I decided that I must learn more about what had just happened to me, and I joined the Bible school correspondence program, I studied the Bible school courses from home while I finished high school. And I graduated high school early so that I could attend the Bible school, it was a really good school that taught me about faith, miracles, and who I was as a believer.
But even then, I felt this nagging in the back of my mind, telling me that something is still missing, this is not all you are.
I went to Bible school for 10 years, I received two Doctorates in Christian theology and Divinity. As an alumni I was also licensed and ordained through the school of ministry, this was a long investment of my time and energy, all through school, and by the end of it, I was still feeling that same void space in my life, that same wretched depression every time Passover, Chanukah and all the High Holidays came around, as if I was on the outside looking in, longing to go in, except I did know how or where the "in" was.
This part of my life was supposed to feel different, I mean I am a THD now. I should feel like I know a few things. But after so long in a Christian school, hearing doctrines like "the law" was done away with because of Jesus, and the Jews are still God’s people in a way, but the Christians are really God’s people now because they are the real seed of Abraham, and it's "okay" that Christmas & Easter were once pagan holidays, because of Jesus we can celebrate on those days now, and eat bacon while doing it. It was like this huge pressure to be and act and believe the Bible in a certain way, it just felt more and more like when I was a kid, it felt like pressure to not be Jewish.
Then something happened to me in 2014, during Chanukah. I was enduring the usual feeling of displacement and longing. It was during a night meeting in the church I was a part of, the minister asked from the pulpit "is anyone here Jewish?". Something came over me, I can't really explain it but on the inside, it was like I had just "volunteered as tribute" in the hunger games. After I raised my hand, the speaker replied to me with a prophetic edge in her voice, "wow, Matthew you've been hiding!"
That night I knew what she said was true. I was hiding. I had been hiding out as a Christian for most of my life. Soon after that night, in another meeting at church, the minister was laying hands on people after the meeting. When he prayed for me, the Holy Spirit, the Rauch HaKodesh overwhelmed me and I was "slain in the spirit" I collapsed to the floor and began to weep under the power of God. I felt that same tangible warmth envelope me, and again I heard a voice say to me "Matthew, you are a Jew!" "Now, act like one!" "Do not be afraid". It felt like the tone my dad would take with me when he was encouraging me.
Immediately it was like my eyes were opened, and I saw my childhood again, I saw all the times my family observed Shabbat and the holy days, I remembered all the stories my grandmother told me. And I understood my parents for the first time. They were afraid, and they thought that somehow by hiding who we really were, it was protecting us. For the first time ever I felt compassion and empathy for them, God opened up my eyes to see the layers of everything that happened to them, and He said to me again "Matthew, you are a Jew, now go act like one!"
I got up from the floor, still weeping, but empowered! I felt free, freer than I've ever felt in my life! I was so happy that I finally understood. I was not just free, I was commissioned to discover who I really was. I spoke to my wife on the way home from church, and she had the same witness as I did. My wife of 6 years now, has always supported me and prayed for me in this. She knew from the start, that I was Jewish. God actually told her as a young girl, that she would marry a Jewish man. I was the first question she asked me when we started dating, "are you Jewish?" She said to me, "I've been waiting for God to do this in you!"
Adonai began to show us together, how He would use us to restore our family to its Jewish roots,
And how He would use us as messianic Jews, to reach Jews around the world, to bridge the gap of separation between the Christian church and Judaism.
I found myself charged and ready, I was delivered of fear, and finally felt comfortable in my own skin, as a Jewish man. I knew that God had made this reconnection to my family's Jewish roots.
When I told my mom about this, she actually thanked me and said that she was proud of me, to have the courage to do what she was afraid to do.
Now what? Where do I even start? What is the first step I needed to take? With no other Jewish leaders influence in my life, I felt like the car was started, but there was a club on the steering wheel.
I prayed and asked Adonai to put a teacher in my life that I could learn from. I decided that the first thing I should do is read the Bible again through this new perspective, and to learn Hebrew.
I reasoned to myself, that any serious Jew worth his salt should learn how to read, speak, and write in Hebrew! .
So I set out on a quest to learn my ancient native language. The search was daunting to say the least, even a bit discouraging. Naturally, there were thousands of options to choose from, each in varying quality and teaching skill.
I eventually came to a video that Izzy Avraham loaded on YouTube, he shared his passion to know Yeshua the Messiah in a more intimate way by learning the language that Yeshua both spoke and read His own Bible in. My heart was moved by Izzy's passion, I felt a witness in my spirit that resonated with my own new found passion, to rediscover my Messiah in His original Biblical context.
As I devoured all of Izzy's Hebrew quest videos on YouTube, I felt like I rediscovered myself, as a messianic Jew. The void space that I had felt in my life for so long began to fill up with light and revelation as Izzy taught Hebrew through a Yeshua centered perspective.
I highly recommend Holy Language Institute to anyone who even remotely desires to learn Hebrew, but not just to learn a language, to connect with a tribe of people who follow Yeshua of Nazareth, the Yeshua (Jesus) of the Bible. To be able to understand the messiah in a more intimate
and contextually accurate way.
I want to say thank you, to Adonai for divinely connecting me to this tribe, and for the work that He has done in my life. I pray that one day I would be able to contribute to the tribe as much as it has touched me. Also, to Izzy, thank you for your hard work and your scholarly attention to the details, and for leading the tribe, & for your patience and ability to show the strength and validity of this movement through the love and kindness of the Father. Blessings to you.
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Hats off to Robert for this meme! Make your own Hebrew meme here or here and send it to email@example.com and we'll share yours too.
Shavua tov - have a good week!
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