Ron Cantor

Sid: Well my guest is red hot for the Messiah.  Well, let me ask you this “If God spoke to you and you’re a nice comfortable American happy where you’re at and tells you to go to Israel what would you do?” Well, Ron Cantor how in the world did God get you to go to Israel?

Ron:  Well, it’s funny that you ask that. You probably don’t remember this Sid but we were part of the same congregation for many years Beth Messiah and we lived in the same area for many years.  I remember one day when I was engaged to my wife Elana, Elana was born in Jerusalem, she’s a sabra a native born Israeli. When you heard that we were getting married you came up to me and you said “Ron, now you have to move to Israel you’re marrying an Israeli.”  And I responded to you “No, I don’t think so I’m not moving to Israel; maybe I’ll visit but I had no intentions to moving to Israel.”

Sid: It’s a nice place to visit but I don’t want to live there.  (Laughing)

Ron:  Right and what happened to me I was actually reading a secular book a few years later by Thomas Freeman called “From Beirut to Jerusalem.”   And as I read about his 6 years living in Jerusalem I fell in love with this people. Even though I’m Jewish I’m not Israeli by birth.  I just fell in love with the character of this nation; it’s so unique and special.  All of the stories he told I said “I have to be with these people.”  It’s probably why I fell in love with my wife I love Israelis’.  And so over the next several years we began to make plans to move here; it took us 12 years from that time in 2003 when we finally did make aliyah. For my wife she wasn’t making aliyah because she was born here.

Sid: And what is aliyah?

Ron:  Aliyah, is a Hebrew word and it means to go up.  So when Jewish person makes aliyah it means they return from one country to the land of Israel.

Sid: Okay, I also remember bumping into you in Israel and remembering because my sister and brother-in-law live there and you and Elana are close with them.  And I remember you were wrestling with maybe you did but maybe you didn’t think about before you left and that’s the language of Hebrew.  Tell me about your studies in Hebrew.

Ron:  Learning Hebrew has been the greatest challenge of my life.  I moved here at age 38, I’m now 48.  My kids picked up Hebrew within a year and people under the age of 20 typically do pick it up very quickly but the older you get it is very hard to learn to learn Hebrew.  I thought that I would take 2 years from ministry from 2003 to 2005 and by 2006 I’ll be preaching in Hebrew with no problems.  But no it took me about 7 years before I gave my first message in Hebrew and I was terrified.  Sid I preached in front of 100,000 people in English in Nigeria and I didn’t even think to be nervous but when I get my first message in Hebrew in front of 50 people who were Hebrew speakers I was terrified; I almost chickened out at the last minute and was going to grab an interpreter.  But since then I’ve been preaching in Hebrew for the past 3 years.  But I love Hebrew, I love learning it; it’s a great language but it hasn’t been easy.

Sid: I am sure.  But tell me, between you and me.  You go from the United States, a very comfortable land to Israel that in some senses is like the United States but in other senses it’s almost 3rd world.  How was that transition?

Ron:  It wasn’t hard at all, like I said “God had put such a love in my heart for this country.”  I love the third worldness, if you will, of this nation.  See on the one hand Israel is very much a first world nation I mean we have everything; every modern convenience that you have in America we have here. We pay at the pump, we have internet; we have everything.  Much of the technology that it is in your iPhone, or is in your computer comes out of Israel and yet we’re in the Middle East. So even though we live on a first world level we have the mentality of a third world nation.  And so when you combine those two it can be explosive.  And I have had many interesting encounters in Israel; just going to the grocery store in Israel can be… I joke with people when they say “What’s different about America and Israel?”  I say when I go to buy groceries in America I come home with groceries; when I go to buy groceries in Israel I come home with groceries and about 10 stories about what happened in the grocery store.

Sid: I know because I went to Israel for a month and we went to the grocery store and I felt as nervous as you as you when you preached the first sermon just trying to find the basics to live.

Ron: Right, right.  And so we’ve gone through that.  And if you get into the fast line where you can only have 10 items and you have more than 10 items you will be called to account.  And I’ve had some of my most enjoyable moments watching Israeli’s argue with each other in the checkout lines in supermarkets.  But it’s part of what I love about this nation.  People are very honest in the sense of they say what they’re thinking; they don’t hold back.  It’s a very aggressive, fast paced culture but it’s a lot of fun.

Sid: I have to tell you; you’re provoking me to jealousy and you’re Jewish, the Gentile supposed to provoke the Jew to jealousy not the Jew.  But Ron you made a statement that Jesus never intended to start a new religion; what do you mean by that?

Ron:  Well, when He came do we have any record of Him saying “I’m Jewish but I’m getting rid of this whole Jewish thing we’re going to start a new club called Christianity.”  We don’t see that in the New Testament.  In fact the word “New Testament” it came all the way back in Jeremiah to the House of Israel and Jacob “I’m going to make a New Covenant with you.”  And so when Yeshua came he came to Israel to tell them about this New Covenant, not a new religion; a very much connected to the Torah and the prophets. And so when the Jewish people begin to hear this message all throughout Israel and became believers we don’t see them converting to another religion.  When we read the Book of Acts we don’t ever see Paul or Peter speak to Jewish people about leaving Judaism they say “This is what has been promised; this is what we’ve been waiting for for 1000’s of years; on the day of Pentecost,” we call it Shavuot here.  In Israel we see Peter preaching before several thousand Jewish people but never once does he invite them to join a new religion.  He invites them to have their sins forgiven through the blood of the Jewish Messiah.

Sid: So what would you call Christianity if you had a chance to give it its name?

Ron:  (Laughing) Well, I call myself a believer in the New Covenant they called it the way, haderekh we say in Hebrew.  But wasn’t a new religion; the revelation Sid in this New Covenant and this was hidden for centuries was that Gentiles did not have to become Jewish in order to enjoy all of the promises, forgiveness of sins that the Jewish people were enjoying through Yeshua.  As you know that was the main controversy in the Book of Acts; “Do Gentiles have to become Jewish in order to believe in Yeshua?”  The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 was to answer that question.  But to contrast that to you and me; when you came to faith and I came to faith one of the first things that I said to myself was “I’m no longer Jewish.”  After 2000 years of Christian anti-Semitism of Jews being forced to be baptized.  We understood that as a Jew we can’t be part of this; but once I became to believe I thought I had lost my Jewishness. And that was until I met a woman named Viva, and she was the only other Jewish believer that I knew of.  And I met her for the first time and I said “Viva guess what I also used to be Jewish.” And she put her bony little finger in my face; and she said “Don’t you ever say you used to be Jewish, you’re still Jewish.” Then I began to read the New Covenant and I saw these were all Jewish people.  If you had told me growing up Sid that John the Baptist was Jewish; I would have thought “That’s crazy.”  How can a Baptist be a Jew? I didn’t know who these people were.  Or that Peter and Paul were Jews; Paul was a Jewish Rabbi; I had no idea.

Sid: Well, as a matter of fact the Bible says “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.”  And what you have done; I’m not even going to give you the credit it for it Ron; because I believe it came straight from God.  You have written a novel, the last thing in the world you would have done and this is a novel about a Jewish man that comes to faith; and is wrestling with “How could this thing become so Jewish? How could this thing be so Jewish and no one sees it?”  Tell me about what you really want to accomplish?

Ron: Well, what we did we took this whole idea of the Jewish roots of the faith.  I wanted people to understand that the Jews did not reject Yeshua completely.  There was a revival in Israel; in Jerusalem; in the greater Tel Aviv area; which was called Yako.  In the Galilee tens of 1000’s of Jews did believe, now the majority of Jews did reject Him but the majority of world has rejected Him.  There was a great move of God here and these people did not leave Judaism.  It says in Acts 21 when Paul comes to meet James in the other Apostles James says “Look at how man 10’s of 1000s of Jews have believed and they’re zealous for the Torah.”   We wanted to get that across to people and we did it by creating a story about a man named David who meets and angel.  And then he has a scrooge like experience and he goes back into the New Testament times and then the angel teaches him the Jewish roots of the faith.

Sid: And the facts, the story of course is imaginary, but the facts in the book; very few Christians; very few pastors; very few ministers have ever seen this before.

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