Read Called to Controversy Online
Authors: Ruth Rosen
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Â© 2012 by Jews for Jesus of San Francisco, CA
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Rosen, Ruth, 1956-
Â Â Â Called to controversy : the unlikely story of Moishe Rosen and the founding of Jews for Jesus / Ruth Rosen.
Â Â Â Â Â Â pages cm
Â Â Â Includes bibliographical references.
Â Â Â ISBN 978-1-59555-491-8
Â Â Â 1. Rosen, Moishe. 2. Christian converts from JudaismâBiography. 3. Jews for Jesus. 4. Missions to Jews. I. Title.
Â Â Â BV2623.R58R68 2012
Â Â Â 289.9âdc23
Â Â Â [B]
Printed in the United States of America
12 13 14 15 16 QGF 6 5 4 3 2 1
For those who still wonder . . .
PART TWO: Prelude to Jews for Jesus
PART THREE: Challenging the Status Quo
Appendix A: Why Witness to the Jewish People?
was only seven years old when it occurred to me that my father might be famous. I considered this a possibility because people that I didn't really know or care about sometimes told me how lucky I was to have him for my father. I also knew that Dad often traveled to speaking engagements, which could mean that crowds of people were listening to him. My curiosity about the extent of his importance beyond our small family grew.
Which led me to ask my mother, “Is Daddy famous?”
Momâwho in 1963 resembled a Jewish Donna Reed with (I thought) a twist of Jackie Kennedyâwanted to know what I meant by “famous.”
I thought a moment and replied, “Do lots of people know who he is and think he is important?”
“I suppose you could say that,” Mom replied. She was guarded about anything that might lead a family member to get what she termed “a big head.” “He
well known in certain circles,” she cautiously added.
“Mom,” I said, “is Daddy famous like Billy Graham?”
“No,” she firmly replied. “Nowhere nearly as famous as Billy Graham.”
My curiosity was satisfied, and I didn't think about Dad being famous for a long time. Years later, when he became a keynote speaker at a Christian festival at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden, I barely noticed. Later still, when strangers I met on my own speaking engagements characterized my father as “a Jewish Billy Graham,” I smiled and changed the subject. To this day, when people ask me what it was like being Moishe Rosen's daughter, I usually reply, “Compared to what? I've never been anyone else's daughter.” But every now and then, I let myself think about how some would call him famous, others, infamous.
My father, Moishe Rosen, is probably best known as the founder of Jews for Jesus, a high-profile evangelistic agency that, in the words of its mission statement, “exists to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide.” This in itself makes him a hero to some people, a villain to others.
Every author has a bias and an agenda and I will state mine here.
My bias: first, I share my father's belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world. But while I hope this book provides insight, my purpose is not to push his or my beliefs on readers who might not share them.
Second, I love and respect my father.
Third, I believe I know and care for him well enough to portray him honestly without overlooking his weak points and even his failures. Athough he did not live to see this book completed, he saw and vetted most of the chapters. My mother vetted the rest on his behalf. No doubt some readers will be delighted to see some of Moishe Rosen's weaknesses or failings recorded, while others will be surprised and perhaps disappointed. I believe shortcomings are part of every real story. The Bible is remarkable inasmuch as it portrays many men and women of faith who knew God intimatelyâand it shows them as real people with ordinary feelings and failings.
I speak of my father in the company of these men and women, not to elevate him, but because their lives uncover clues about my father's life, just as they uncover truths about any life that has had a great impact. My father joined me in the hope that his biography would encourage others to see how God uses imperfect people to bring about great things.
So much for bias. Now for agenda. First, my father did, said, and thought things that many people found interesting and valuable. A record of his life and thoughts will resonate with some readers, perhaps helping them on their own faith journeys.
Second, since he is a controversial man, I want to nail down some facts that otherwise might fly away on wings of speculation.
Third, I want to present a more personal and detailed portrait than would be possible by a writer less acquainted with him than I am, or one with less access to him and those who knew him. My research included many hours spent taping interviews with my father, so you'll hear him explaining much of his life in his own words. Phone interviews and e-mail exchanges with friends, colleagues, and former colleagues bring their voices into the mix; and I include thoughts and memories from other family members as well as drawing from old correspondence and various documents recording his thoughts. But I've also included my own firsthand observations and reflections, which I hope will prove insightful. My father found them to be so and told me that he learned some things about himself through reading this manuscript.
I hope the combination of narrative, dialogue, quotes, and commentary will give you more than the usual
, but will also show more of the
. Most of my footnotes elaborate on the main text and are separated out for those who want to delve.
Fourth, my father tried hard to communicate certain philosophies and principles. One of his great concerns was that they would be lost after he was gone. Many of Moishe Rosen's philosophies and principles are woven throughout this book because they are inseparable from his life story.
You, the reader, will decide how well and truly I've presented my father's life and thoughts. I offer the story of a man who has had a profound impact on many people, and I cannot help hoping that you will appreciate him on some levelâas well as catch glimpses of the God he could not ignore.
Notes to reader: There are a few first person observations in some of the early notes, but most first person references come in later chapters, when my experiences and observations come into play. Also I refer to my father as “Moishe” almost exclusively up till the point in the story when I was born, then I use “Moishe” interchangeably with “Dad” or “my father.” During the time he was executive director he preferred his daughters to refer to him as Moishe so that was not unnatural for me and referring to my mother as Ceil came just as easily. At home he was the consummate dad, and in many situations he enjoyed the role of proud papaâbut once he became our boss, he did not want to show partiality so we addressed him the same way everyone else did.
t didn't surprise Moishe Rosen that no friends or family members came to Denver's Stapleton Airport to greet him. He squeezed himself into a rental car and headed straight to General Rose Memorial Hospital, named for Maurice Rose, a Jewish war hero. Many of the patients were Jewish, including the one he had come all the way from New York to visit.
Moishe parked the car, squared his shoulders, and strode through the large glass double doors. He turned down the hall to the elevators. He hated hospitals. The smells made him queasy, and he disliked hardening himself to the moans of strangers as he walked down the corridors. But if he didn't steel himself, he would be too depressed to be of any use to his dying mother. What an awful phrase: “dying mother.” She was so much more to him than that, yet as he'd observed, death dominates the identity of those whom it is about to claim. Still, as long as she had breath in her body, he would continue to hope.