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A Pastors Account

Updated: Jun 17


 

   Ten From The Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews  by Rivkah Lambert Adler (Author) 

The following is an account of a man his family and community to search and then find answers to questions about the God he served. Part of the Book written by (Adler) Russell's story has far-reaching wisdom for everyone searching for meaning not found in the religious traditions of our parents.


For the first time in 2,000 years, non-Jews around the world are expressing a desire to connect with the Torah, the Land of Israel, the God of Israel, and the Jewish people. Ten From The Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews is a pioneering look at this startling phenomenon of a Torah awakening among current and former Christians. If you are intrigued by non-Jews coming closer to the Torah, or if you'd like to meet the Jewish men and women who are befriending and teaching them, this book is for you.


NOTE TO READERS: The contributors to this book represent a wide range of theological positions. As a result, there are chapters in this volume that have the potential to make some Jews and some people from the Nations uncomfortable. If you’re willing to read about the spiritual stories of people with whom you don’t agree theologically, you’ll find that this book is groundbreaking.


Beyond any understanding of God both nothing and something came a desire.

 It was only out of this dark nothingness that we got the revelation that God had every man in mind when He created the world and in His Torah He established grace, mercy, redemption, and salvation for both the Jew and the non-Jew together. (Kirk) 2024

Rabbi Ger Russell Kirk


"Although I'm not a writer or the son of a writer, I want to welcome everyone to my Facebook account by sharing a bit about us. I want everyone to know where my wife and I came from and how we found our place in the Torah. Below is a letter I sent to the editor of the book “Ten for the Nations,” which they published after a little professional help."


It was a fall evening on a Tuesday when a church friend and I were driving back from a meeting. We began to talk about what the perfect church would look like.

My friend said, “You know, you could start your church and implement everything you're talking about.” I told him, “No, I'm not interested in that right now, maybe later on.”

My wife and I were the epitomai of “church people”. We were members of the seventh-largest Assembly of God church in Texas, and we were there every time the door was open. We paid our ten percent tithes, my wife sang in the choir, the kids were involved in the youth group, I sat on the board as a church leader, and I taught Sunday school.

Outside the church, I took Bible classes at a local Assembly of God college. My wife and I were pro-life leaders in our community and were also involved with a motorcycle ministry that focused on helping wayward youth.


Additionally, I was a volunteer chaplain in the state prison system and was ordained in a small fellowship due to my work with the youth and the prison ministry.

I was elected to the board of this pastoral credentialing fellowship where I worked to help establish churches, Pastors, and various other ministries. The level of involvement and dedication we had was a testament to the fact that we not only loved the church, but we lived it. The very next night after my conversation with a friend from church, I was sitting in the church pew waiting for the Wednesday night service to start when the Pastor stepped up to the pulpit and in a loud voice asked me, "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be starting your church?"


Partially stunned, I replied, "I don't know what you're talking about."

The next day, I went to the pastor to ask him what he was referring to. While discussing my previous conversation about the church with my friend, the pastor kept encouraging me to go ahead and start a church. I did not view his comments as faith in my success or as encouragement to move to the next level. My ministry. I was quite aggravated with the way the conversation was going. I was not interested in starting a church, mainly because I was happy with the way my family's spiritual life was going within a big traditional denominational church.


However, as I thought about the way all the events had unfolded I said to myself, “So be it, if God wants me to start a church I’ll start a church”. This was a Thursday and that Sunday we had our first church service on the 15th of October, 2000. I remember the date because it was the day before my Fortieth birthday. In our home, we had a very large room separate from the house, but still attached to it, so we got busy and set it up for church.  We placed a podium in front and put about thirty chairs facing towards the podium in a traditional church style.  We hung a huge classroom chalkboard behind the pulpit. This was going to be a teaching church. The decorations consisted of an American flag and a Christian flag, along with some fake ficus trees, it had the look of a typical church.


Who could have ever guessed the turn of events in this humble room would be anything but typical and would lead to one of the most profound Torah awakenings in two thousand years? It all began with that first sermon where this small group of friends and family agreed to pray and study together until we found out how God wanted to be worshiped and no matter what we found out that was how we were to worship God.


Now, with our agenda set, we moved forward in total freedom from the denominational dogmas of the church to truly connect with God. Our first major revelation came in early spring as Easter approached, naturally, we began to study the passion week by mapping out when all the events were happening from all four gospels. We diagramed them out on our big chalkboard, but we soon found out we had a real problem with understanding the Jewish concept of the day beginning at sundown. Also, we realized that we never fully understood that some Jewish feast days were considered as a Shabbat day and that this Shabbat could occur in the middle of the week.


This changed our perspective on the events of the passion week. Without going into any detailed specifics about what we discovered in this study, I can say what we found was a fascinating and surprising conclusion within our New Testament study of the Passion Week.

In our study of the Jewish concept of time and the Jewish feasts and Shabbats in conjunction with the Christian gospels we concluded that all the Apostles and followers of Jesus were still keeping a seventh-day Sabbath. What did this revelation mean to us as Christians? It meant that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus did not change anything with the laws and customs of the Jewish faith.


 In other words, it did not change anything about how God wished to be worshiped.

 The tradition of Moses from Mount Sinai was still in effect for those Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Jesus. This begged the next obvious question what did the worship of God look like when both Jew and non Jew worshiped God together in unity? It would be the pursuit of this question that led our group out of the false teachings of the church.


There are many examples from the New Testament that I could share that we found showing that the Apostles were always practicing Judaism by following the Torah commands and by keeping Jewish traditions, which was to us a direct conformation that Jesus changed nothing concerning sin because if you sinned you still had to repent and make restitution.

There was no new mandate instituted because of the death, burial, and resurrection that did away with a seventh-day sabbath observance where the God of Israel was worshipped.

Long after the death of Jesus the God-fearing non-Jews were still found in the same place they have always been, which is worshiping God with the Jewish people.


 We found this in the New Testament where Paul, then Saul, asked Caiaphas for a letter to take to the Damascus synagogues to remove the non-Jews who were following Jesus while they were worshipping and studying with the Jews. Who were these non-Jews in the synagogues of Damascus worshiping? They were worshiping the God of Israel not Jesus as a Demi-god. These revelations in the New Testament challenged us as to who we were as non-Jews worshipping the God of Israel.

 

The next questions that came up took us down a long road of study before we came up with any real answers and even those answers turned out to be only half the story. These Jews and the non-Jews worshiping together in the synagogues presented our group with new questions. Who were these non-Jews who worshiped the God of Israel, what happened to them when the Jews went into exile and what do we do to reconnect to this original worship of the God of Israel alongside the Jewish people?

We were still considered a traditional church at this time, even though we were pursuing these types of questions.

 

The church was trying to grow, but the size limitations of our backroom were keeping us from adding the new people who wanted to come. That’s when we found out about a small church in our neighborhood whose pastor had left along with all the money in the bank account. With no pastor and no money many of these church members moved on to other churches leaving only a few people at this church. They were looking for a Pastor and we looking for a bigger building sounded like an opportunity made in heaven.


However, it was at the very same time when I was trying out for the Pastor position of this church and negotiating the merger of our two churches that I went to hear a lecturer on Biblical archeology. The gentleman giving the lecture wore ancient biblical-type clothes and spoke of how idolatry came into the church and separated the church from its Jewish roots.

Now, I did not exactly know what to think of this man’s teachings but I knew I had to find out the truth concerning the questions we had in our study.

 

I called a meeting with our church and told them I was going to seriously pursue this Jewish connection to the church that we have been studying. I invited anyone who wanted to stay to stay with me and if anyone wanted to move on I would understand.  I then went to the church that we were planning on merging with and told them we moving in another direction and they told us they understood. I took the podium and the chairs out and put them in big sofas that formed a circular seating area.


 Nothing was to be left of the Greek mindset created by church thinking. We were now ready to discuss the tabu subject of the legitimacy of the New Testament. This was an especially hard time for everyone to go through and it was not too long after this that we lost at least half our members. Nevertheless. We pressed on with some very tough subjects for Christians, such as the deity of Jesus and salvation through the shedding of his blood, Each one of these types of subjects we fought through and found not to be supported by the Torah.


 We tore our entire faith structure down until we looked atheism straight in the eye because we didn't stop until we had nothing spiritually left of the church in our souls.

It was only out of this dark nothingness that we got the revelation that God had every man in mind when He created the world and in His Torah He established grace, mercy, redemption, and salvation for both the Jew and the non-Jew together. We knew then what we had always heard was truer than we ever could imagine, which was the future Temple would be a house of prayer for all people and this undeniable truth we found would someday be known throughout the world.


Ironically, the name of our humble little church was “Believer’s House of Prayer”.

It was during this time that my wife Teresa got a new job. She was sitting in her cubical when she overheard two people talking about the Bible. Teresa thought to herself how one of them sounded like he believed just like we believe. She found out who he was and introduced herself to him. She found out there was another whole group of people right here in our town that was studying many of the same things we were studying. This other group was there with us at the same bible archaeology lecture. It was not long before we were all studying together on Saturday mornings. It was in this larger group that we began to seek who we were in the Torah.


We studied the Ebonite, Nazarenes, Karaite, Coptic Gnosticism, and the Messianic movement, but none of them worked out to identify what we were in the Torah. Then we came across the B’nei Noach the seven laws of Noah and a universal Torah.

Now, we found something that connected us with the Torah and with what we were already doing naturally. It had been a little over four years since that first sermon and now we had some kind of idea of who we were in Torah.


We were the righteous among the nation. We began studying the seven laws of Noah and calling ourselves B’nei Noach, but we knew of no other non-Jews who believed this way. We truly thought we were the only ones in the world living as the righteous non-Jews in the Torah.

 It was not only the isolation of no other Torah-believing non-Jews that was putting a heavy burden upon us, it was also the isolation from our families, friends, and traditions that bore the hardest psychological burdens upon our lives. How were we to ever ease these burdens that had come into our lives weighed heavy on my soul. We had crossed the abyss from false religion to no religion only to find ourselves on an island with no past to cling to and no future to grasp. I knew we could never endure psychologically from this void in our lives. Then I asked myself the question what was it that kept the the Jewish families together after the destruction of the Temple and the exile from the land of Israel?


The answer was clear and simple, it was the Shabbat table. The focus of Jewish faith in the home was the Shabbat table, which is the symbolic space of the Temple Holy of Holies.

The table itself is the ark, the Challah bread is the manna, the two candles are the Cherubim on top of the ark and the wine is the Torah scroll. I knew this was the formula that kept the Jewish people from losing their way and it would work to keep the Torah observant non-Jews from losing our way. We rearranged our big room once again. We moved the couches around and set a long table and we began meeting on Friday nights. Teresa would prepare a big meal with bread and wine. She would light the candles on a beautifully arranged table adorned with flowers.


This was the space we created to connect with God through prayers and psalms. After eating we would study the weekly Torah portion into the night. This was a powerful experience for all of us that not only gave us purpose and direction it instilled in us an unwavering passion for Torah. It was at this point for the first time I felt our desire to worship God as He wanted to be worshiped was being fulfilled. Now it seemed we made it through many trials and tests and survived, we were stronger in our faith and sure that what we were doing was truly of God. It was at this time when a strange sequence of events happened that would open up the world of the righteous non-Jew to us in a way we would have never imagined.


 We had a little website where we posted recordings of our weekly Saturday teachings for those who missed the class and for those who wanted it to be reviewed. The website had an email address and I started getting emails addressed to Rav Schwartz.

I did not know who this Rav guy was and I made no sense of the emails, so I disregarded them. Then I received an email addressing this Rav Schwartz, but this time it had a photo attached to it, and in the photo was a lot of people with a big banner that said, “B’nei Noach High Counsel”  I was very excited to see this picture because it was the first time I was able to associate contemporary non-Jewish people outside of ourselves with B’nei Noach. I emailed the person back that had been sending me these emails and I said to them, “  My name is not Rav Schwartz and he is not getting your emails, but I am a B’nei Noach and I want to know what is going on in the picture”.


The person replied to my email and told me that she lived in Israel and that she had confused Rav Schwartz’s email address which was bnei_noah and mine which was bnei-noah. She was friends with none other than Rav Yoel Schwartz of the Nascent Sanhedrin in Jerusalem who oversaw the non-Jewish affairs of the Nascent Sanhedrin. We began to communicate and became friends. She was an Ephraimite before converting to Judaism and moving to Israel. I told her there was a group of people here in central Texas that was following the seven laws of Noah, but we did not know of anyone else who was Torah-observant non-Jews.


She connected us to some people in Lubbock Texas and after meeting them and meeting their Rabbi we found out that we were surrounded by many other B’nei Noach in our area, one of which was Professor Vendyl Jones the famed archeologist who is accredited with founding the modern-day B’nei Noach movement. We became close friends with the Jones, as well as many others. Including many Rabbis who were teaching the Torah to the non-Jews


It is important to understand that our group had made this four-year journey out of Christianity into Torah obedient non-Jews without ever knowing a Jew or anyone righteous non-Jews, but that had all changed now it was 2005 and our Torah experience and learning took on a new level and our lives would never be the same again. For the first time in our Torah experience, we had the real sense of the hustle and bustle of a community, albeit spread out, but this was Texas and everything was spread out. Now we had big gatherings for the feasts, and Shabbats at different people's houses during the month. Many Torah study groups at different places we could go to and Rabbis teaching us Torah in online classrooms.


 It seemed like a golden era for the Torah non-Jew in our area. “Too good to be true” as some would say, and in some ways that was true. We all were growing spiritually and advancing in our Torah understanding, each at his own pace. Yet, there was still a feeling of something being incomplete or unfinished. The B’nei Noach identity in Judaism was undeniably true, but who was the B’nei Noach in the Torah? What scale should we be using to gauge what is too Jewish for the non-Jew and what is not Jewish enough for the righteous among the nations? A new era of debate arose within the now-expanded B’nei Noach communities of central Texas.


 I began to work with B’nei Noach organizations, leaders, and Rabbis to help create a more universal global B’nei Noach community. The idea of B’nei Noach developed as such a basic concept that it created a void that was being filled with many different dynamics to identify what was a B’nei Noach within Orthodox Judaism. These discussions went on for years as the B’nei Noach communities and various groups were broadening or in some cases narrowing their perspective ideas of what B’nei Noach should and should not do.


 It was not until 2013 that I reluctantly came across the teaching of an innovative young Rabbi David Katz. His teachings on the “Torah of Shem” and the “Ger” were so profound I had to ask other Rabbis and teachers of mine what they thought about this new teaching and was it kosher. I was told that Rabbi Katz’s “Torah of Shem” and “Ger” teachings were perfectly Kosher teachings. I then asked them what all the controversy was about. I was told that the teachings of Rabbi David Katz made other Rabbis nervous. I thought to myself, “made the Rabbis nervous, he must be teaching something truly”. I began to seriously study these teachings and it was not hard to realize that Rabbi Katz was teaching a universal Torah that is so pure it was ancient and it was so ancient it was new.


The multiple identities of the Ger personality throughout both the oral and written Torahs completely explain the diversity we were experiencing within the different B’nei Noach groups. The word Ger means stranger as in not a Jewish person, but in Rav Yoel Schwartz’s approbation of the Book “The World of the Ger” he defines the word Ger as “mankind”.

The B’nei Noach that did not fully reject the church is a Ger shituf, and they continued in their joining something else to God. The B’nei Noach who were not adamant in their belief in God, who were not careful in keeping the seven laws of Noach or striving to do the very least they could with the seven laws of Noach is a Ger nochri that was never really in, never really out and never really to be trusted.


The B’nei Noach who desired to live in the land, but did not convert to Judaism is the Ger Toshav that can never be recognized to live in the land of Israel, because of legal dogmas.

The B’nei Noach who feels deep within their soul that they are Jewish is the Ger Tzedek and they convert to Judaism if possible. The B’nei Noach who truly believes in God and is careful in keeping the seven laws of Noach and has made a personal commitment to do so or made a public pledge before three righteous Jews to keep the seven laws of Noach is the Ger in the gate from Deuteronomy 14:21. It is this Ger that is to be considered like a Ger Toshav today even if he does not live in the land of Israel. It is this Ger who can eat the nevailah if they so wish because he is not a convert to Judaism. It was this Ger who was free to study Torah without persecution and partake in a Shabbat.


 It has been a sixteen-year journey for me, my family, and many of my friends and we finally found the place where the Jew and the righteous non-Jew worshiped HaShem in peace and unity through the teachings of Ger.  It was only by the grace of HaShem that we now truly understood how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity in a house of prayer for all peoples. No matter where we were as Christians or as B’nei Noach, we always knew that our destiny was to be like the Ger in the gate.


"In the evening you shall eat meat and in the morning you shall be filled with bread"

(Shemot 1612)

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