Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

On Being Witnessed to at Tully’s

I was in Tully’s for coffee today and had a book with Hebrew in it with me. Along with my kippah, this caught the eye of a very sweet lady with long grey hair and a big t-shirt boldly printed with swooshing letters, “JESUS!” For whatever reason, Christians don’t witness to me very often — sometimes I wonder, “Am I chopped liver?” Anyway, she caught sight of the book and said “Wow! Is that Hebrew?” then went on with a big smile and lots of exclamation points about how Jesus was a Jew himself and was I aware of this? 

I smiled in turn and asked her if she’s a big book reader. “Oh yes!” she exclaimed, so I recommended to her my book Why the Jews Rejected Jesus and said she could find it at her local King County public library. I wrote out the title for her on a piece of paper.
I think — I know — lots of people, not least Jews, who would be annoyed or at least made uncomfortable at being accosted in public this way. I don’t mind, in fact I find it charming — though maybe that’s because it happens so rarely, and this lady was herself charming. Anyway, we talked for 10 or 15 minutes. Normally I’m quite interested in hearing people’s stories about themselves but in this case my interest kind of slipped when she started talking about her theory on Obama being the anti-Christ.
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posted August 25, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Obama is not the antichrist.
How can he be, when he’s obviously Pharaoh?

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posted August 25, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Hopefully next time, the encounter will be more exciting; maybe the “witnesser” will be Stephen Baldwin:

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posted August 25, 2009 at 8:21 pm

She thought Obama is the Antichrist–must have been one of those abominable liberals, huh, ’cause only they do that kind of thing, right? (snark alert!)
Mergatroid, God preserve anyone from Stephen Baldwin!

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posted August 25, 2009 at 9:24 pm

that was frickin’ hilarious — she picked the wrong Jew to witness to!
Actually, now you know why they don’t witness to you 😉

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posted August 26, 2009 at 2:56 am

I commend you for bringing your books to a coffee shop. I can’t bring myself to read non-English books outside of my home or office, especially if they are written in a classical or liturgical language. I just don’t want to explain what I am reading to someone else, especially when it is a prayerbook. When I call a “time out” to go sit somewhere and pray/read/think I try to find very unobtrusive places.
If I walked into the coffee shop I wouldn’t ask you what you were reading even though I would probably be interested. But I wouldn’t know your intentions. And you wouldn’t know whether I was genuinely interested in the text or some crazy proselytizer. I’m not the latter: I enjoy discussing the language and argument of religious texts from the perspective of those who revere or understand the text and have dissected it well. In any event, these types of discussions I think are best initiated by the person who wants to share and not a second party.

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posted August 26, 2009 at 3:34 am

anon, you might appreciate this story:
A college student decided he wanted to pray the morning service, and finally found the courage to walk across the campus carrying his tallis bag. He wanted to share this achievement with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe gave his ‘yasher koach’ (a hearty “good for you”) but added, “so, when you were walking, did you carry your bag with the Hebrew words facing inwards or outwards.”
That was to be the student’s next achievement.

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posted August 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Ahhh, but I bring my Hebrew Bible (BHS) to Sunday worship (Lutheran) and recite parts of the liturgy in Hebrew — out loud (the Lord’s Prayer, the sign of the cross). I do it on purpose with the intention of getting my Christian bretheren to be more cognizant of the roots of our Christian faith.

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posted August 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

A friend of mine was once studying the Torah portion she was scheduled to read the following Shabbes, while riding the bus downtown. At one point she noticed that people seemed to be going to great effort not to sit anywhere near her, and even to move away from her. As she got off the bus, she found out why–one of the other passengers asked her “Is that really black magic you’re reading?”

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posted August 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Also, ANOTHER friend of mine once talked a Jehovah’s Witness off his doorstep by bringing out a Chumash and going through chapter and verse with it.

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posted August 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Be thankful it wasn’t your children being witnessed to while you were in the shower (as happened to me). Kids: “Mommy, a lady came by and gave us some magazines!” (not-very-Jewish ones…)
Me: “Kids, you know you’re not supposed to open the door unless you know who it is–or at all, if Mommy’s in the shower! It could have been a Bad Guy.”
Kids: “But she wasn’t a bad guy–she was a NICE lady.” Which of course they knew in advance. Kids are hopeless.

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