I’m Going to Show You Who You Are

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“For me, I marveled at the wondrous hand of God and the miracles which He daily performs in our everyday lives.”

Light-Aliyah_800What would you do if you were given a key that unlocked your future? What would that key look like? Could such a key exist? What if it belonged in the past, but echoed into the future?

I was given such a key. A key that unlocked my past and my future, and I want to share the story with you …

When I was a child, I had a blue atlas I would stare into for hours. I used a thick, black marker to circle “exotic” destinations like Antarctica and Croatia. But one destination that would always capture my eye was located under the page labeled Middle East … the destination Israel.

By the time I was 17, I’d left my childhood dreams of Israel behind. One Wednesday afternoon, however, my life changed. I met God—or rather God met me. I had my Damascus experience, falling off my horse and all! A few weeks later, I met a young guy who introduced me to the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. We spoke about the Sabbath, kosher eating and the biblical feasts. I was hooked, and so began my journey in to the Hebrew roots way of life. I spent four years in a Messianic seminary, devouring everything taught, including biblical and modern Hebrew.

A few months before my 21st birthday, the desire to publicly and formally announce my faith began to grow like wildfire within my spirit. My mom, who is a party lover, had imagined a fantastic celebration with hundreds of people in a big fancy hall, Gatsby-style. I, on the other hand, had begun to imagine a Bat Mitzvah celebration. For those of you who know anything about Jewish customs, you’ll know that a Bat Mitzvah is a celebration a Jewish girl usually has at the age of 12. It is a step she takes to become a daughter of the commandments—a public declaration that responsibility for her biblical education will shift from her parents on to her very own shoulders. Just perfect.

Breaking this news to my mom was not simple. She cried while my dad smiled, and so we had my Bat Mitzvah celebration—on condition that we would have a formal 21st birthday celebration two days later for the friends who would not be present at the Saturday night festivities.

That Saturday night was a time I will never forget—I preached my very first sermon, blew the shofar, publicly declared my profession of faith in my Hebrew Messiah and saw my family members dance wildly in a circle with the Jewish dancers who led us. It was a dream, and as I walked out of the hall that night, I heard a voice say to me loud and clear:

“My child, I am going to show you who you are.”

I shrugged and thought, Okay.

Two days later I had my second 21st celebration. Towards the middle of the evening an event took place that, unbeknownst to me, would change the course of my life. My parents had just returned from a European tour of Spain and Portugal and had loved every minute of it. My father stepped forward and made his speech and then he presented me with a rectangular, blue box with a see-through lid.

“What is this?” I questioned as they smiled and answered, “Open it and read it out loud.”

I opened the lid of the box and beheld the most beautiful gold key I’d ever seen. I lifted the gold key with its maroon tassel from the box and gaped at it.

“Read the paper in the box,” my parents urged. I lifted an old parchment from the box and read out the following inscription:

Fragment of the Expulsion edict of the Jews signed by the Catholic Kings on March 31st,1492. The Catholic kings signed, in the city of Granada, the expulsion edict by which all the Jews will have to leave the Spanish territories no later than July 31st of that year.

History tells us that many Jews got rid of their possessions as soon as they could, and departed, making a new diaspora. But some of them simply closed their homes, and, with the hope of returning one day, kept the key. Nowadays it is said that many families with Spanish-Jewish ancestors, spread throughout the world, still keep the old Toledo house keys from which they were so unfairly banished. These keys have been passed from father to son, generation after generation, for 500 years until our day—kept with love and nostalgia, veneration and a little hope in the return that never took place.

I was touched by my parent’s thoughtful gift, and at the end of the evening I slid the key into the family memento cupboard. A few days later I heard God’s voice say to me again: “My child, I am going to show you who you are. You need to ask your grandfather about your family.”

Puzzled and slightly nervous about communicating with my father’s father who was not really fond of me, I reeled my mother in to my plan and asked her to pop down to visit my grandfather and ask him about my family heritage. I sat as time ticked away. I did not know what to expect; neither did I take the whole event very seriously. Sure, white South Africans were of course not native to Africa, but where I came from … well, I had never thought about it before. And so I waited and waited until the front door opened and in walked my mother and father.

“Well?” I asked.

My mother stood holding an old, blue book with a faded cover. She pushed it in to my hand silently and I opened the front page. It had my grandfather’s name written on it. Underneath his name was Hebrew handwriting. As I began to page through the book, I saw only Hebrew handwriting. Stories of Noah, Moses, Mount Sinai and Israelite history filled the pages.

“Your paternal family is Jewish, my child, and we never knew it,” my mother said while my father stood as silent as I did. “Your family was evicted from Spain in the 1492 eviction, moving to England and then to Australia. Your great-grandfather came here to start a new life and escape the persecution which seemed to follow Jewish people wherever they went.”

I cannot explain or begin to describe what I felt in those very first moments of coming face to face with a reality that I had felt in my life, ever since I was a small child staring at the flag of Israel. Suddenly, it all made sense. The rest of my aunts and uncles and my brother came over to the house the very next day so I could share the news with everyone. As I began to share with my extended family members, it seemed as though light bulbs went on.

“So that is why I love the Star of David so much and wrote shalom, shalom all over my car’s registration plate and my school books,” my brother excitedly exclaimed. “And no wonder all the other kids used to call me the Jew in school!” And so it went from family member to family member until they began to leave the house, somewhat startled and renewed.

For me, I marveled at the wondrous hand of God and the miracles which God daily performs in our everyday lives. He had prompted my parents to purchase a prophetic gift without knowing it, handing it to me at the exact moment in time when He so desired to show me who I was. I stared at the key and parchment and re-read the words: “these keys have been passing from generation to generation … in the return that never took place.”

And I smiled because that key had passed from generation to generation and now it had been passed to me and finally that return had taken place. My family had returned to their inheritance and their heritage, finally. I felt something move inside of me … I had come home.

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