I am writing this letter to address some rumors that have been spreading about me and my personal life. Unfortunately, some of these rumors are quite malicious. In addition, recently, a mass email was sent out to hundreds of thousands of people, which has resulted in a flood of inquiries and messages. While some of these messages have been uplifting and encouraging, others have been quite hurtful and even hateful by Messianic writing things about me in public and in private, things I wouldn’t write about my worst enemy.
I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and provide a brief summary of my personal situation.
- I renounced Calvinism, not my faith! Despite no longer holding to a Calvinistic worldview(s), I have never stopped believing that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. In fact, my faith is stronger than ever. Please ignore malicious rumors suggesting I left the faith just because I publicly write against Calvinism.
- In 2021, following years of counseling, my wife at the time informed me of her final decision to divorce. I have much respect for her both as a person and as a mother. We ended it calmly and without unnecessary tension or lawsuits. But since we both served in a Messianic ministry, we decided to keep it mostly to ourselves. After all, marriage is supposed to be a private matter between a husband and his wife. But quickly, we realized that it doesn’t work that way in our Messianic movement. As word spread that we were going through divorce proceedings, messianic leaders around us began to intervene and engage in spiritual manipulation. For example, my pastor tried to prevent the divorce by telling me how God “dealt” with a relative of his when she got a divorce – she got ill with terminal cancer and died. This story was repeated by my pastor several times.
The other pastor told me that “God is not interested in our happiness,” and therefore, the purpose of marriage has nothing to do with our happiness. I was shocked to hear this kind of view from a person who is supposed to guide and counsel people on spiritual matters. As someone with a doctorate in Bible and theology, I could easily ignore all this nonsense about a God who doesn’t care how we feel and will punish my ex (or me) with cancer.
- In the Messianic movement in Israel, divorce is considered one of the gravest sins one can commit. Often, messianic pastors will teach it’s an unforgivable sin. It is viewed as something God despises just as much as murder. The Messianic movement in Israel is considered an ultra-conservative movement, often compared in its level of strictness to the Brethren church and, by much of the greater Israeli public, considered a cult. Indeed, large parts of it have strong cultish motifs, but not all.
- In 2022, after being already divorced, a prominent and influential leader in my immediate environment informed me that, as a divorcee, I am not allowed to get married again. This announcement was made not in private but in front of other leaders, which made me feel very uncomfortable. Feeling pressured, I politely agreed to his statement. However, I must admit that I lied, as my personal convictions differ from what was expressed to me.
- Later, in the summer of 2022, I began dating a co-worker who had been a great comfort to me during my divorce. Her name is Anastasia (she just came out of a relationship). Given the hyper-conservative views that some people around us hold about remarrying, we decided to keep our developing romantic relationship confidential for the time being.
- Soon after, our relationship became known to co-workers. Long story short, my official letter of dismissal stated that the reason for my firing is that I, as a divorcee, was dating a co-worker. That coworker, Anastasia, was also fired for the same reason. The very next day, we got phone calls and texts from many in the messianic movement as someone made sure to quickly gossip about us, and they added some false information as well (for example, that I was sleeping around for years with many women- a hideous lie!)
- Not only was our relationship not well-received by our Messianic community, but quickly we were ostracized. A rapid spread of gossip, slander, false rumors, and even threats began coming at us from different directions in an attempt to cancel and boycott us. This experience felt very much like what you may see in films about cults. All of this occurred during the summer of 2022. Since then, only a selected few inside the Israeli Messianic movement have made in effort to be in touch with us.
- I have sent an official letter of apology and repentance to my previous elders at my former place of worship. Two of them were also involved with me in ministry. However, I have never received a response from any of them. In addition, I sent a similar public message around, which caused some messianic leaders to reach out.
- In March of 2023, eight months after, a mass email and social network announcement was sent to over half a million people announcing that I was fired because I started dating Anastasia as a divorcee. Not only was our livelihood taken away from us, but evidently, some people would rather see us destroyed altogether. Ever since not a week goes by without us getting hate emails/messages from someone in the messianic community; this includes negative reviews on my books (especially the anti-Calvinism one) by messianic people who never even bothered to buy and read the books or ever talk to me or ask me about what happened (example). As a friend once told me, “Christianity is the only army in the world that shoots their own wounded soldiers.”
- It is worth noting that the mass email about me was sent the exact same week my new book (challenging Calvinistic doctrines and teachers, such as John MacArthur) was published: ‘The “Gospel” of Divine Abuse.’ My previous workplace is strongly connected with John MacArthur’s seminary (many of the staff are MacArthur’s graduates), and my book criticizes his teaching often.
- Everyone is entitled to their own religious convictions in regard to personal relationships. Our romantic relationship, however, was not meant to hurt or offend anyone. Also, it is a private matter of the heart and not someone else’s business. We did not commit any crimes or break any laws. As Jewish believers, we take so much heat from the Jewish community. It hurts immensely when it comes from fellow Messianic believers. But this is yet one more example of the messianic’s fundamentalist and legalist worldview, the same one that brought about Dasha’s murder.
- I produced hundreds of videos sharing the gospel (evangelism), answering rabbinic objections to Christianity (apologetics), and even engaging in the first-ever debate with an Orthodox rabbi. These videos helped many thousands of Jewish and Arab Israelis come to know Jesus. Unfortunately, all of these videos were removed. This is very unfortunate for me, as the gospel must transcend any personal issues. My name was also removed from hundreds of articles I’ve written.
- For many years, both Anastasia and I sacrificed our reputation in the Jewish and Israeli society to proclaim the name of Jesus. We have seen Jewish Israelis accepting Christ like never before. However, this also came with harassment from religious people and rabbis alike, curses, death threats (we lost count of how many times we had to go to the police station), including death threats over my child’s life, lawsuits, “visits” to our homes, sabotage of my car multiple times, and even hacking of my personal accounts, including email, while speaking to people in my name. These are only a few examples of what we had to endure while sharing the gospel in Israel these past few years. And yet, we don’t regret standing for Yeshua even for a second! Unfortunately, most Messianics don’t seem to want to remember our legacy.
Despite different attempts to shame, degrade, and humiliate me, I have no intention of seeking revenge or retaliation. I, too, was once on top of the legalistic ivory tower, thinking I was holier than thou. I am well aware of my weaknesses and faults, and with the grace of God, I have been working very hard these past several months to restore myself through the grace of God.
“Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.
I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:16)
I have written this short devotion to express my feelings about the situation: “Jesus had the Perfect Father.”