And the buck stops here (part 9)

But that's enough about me, already .... well, maybe just one more thing. Why did I write these articles?

It all started in April 1995. I have three sons. The eldest, Philip, had just turned 13 and we decided to organise a barmitzvah for him. Because of our beliefs it was never going to be a traditional one with a daunting synagogue service and because of our lack of money it was never going to be a lush 'do', with expensive catering, a luxury venue and a star-studded cast.

We opted for a simple messianic (Jewish Christian) ceremony at a smallish hall, with a cold buffet, but still with a disco and a live band. We also had an army of guests/helpers to ensure the smooth running of it all and to keep the costs down. I was in charge of the ceremonial and entertainment's side and my parents looked after catering.

Being a Jewish affair you can guess where most of the efforts went - 80% of manpower went towards organising the food and creature comforts of the guests! The whole thing was planned with the cold efficiency of a military campaign and the heated emotions that only Jewish organisation can generate (basically we all got on each other's nerves for 4 months before the event and didn't speak to each other for 2 weeks afterwards!).

The invitations went out and, to our surprise, nearly all could come and all absentees had valid excuses. We honestly expected many to make excuses and stay away as, by then, it was common knowledge in our family that myself, my mother and sister (all messianic Jews) had gone off! We reasoned that although all were coming because of politeness and common courtesy, some were coming out of curiosity, but many would be reluctant guests.

So the day came, Philip read from Leviticus (in English, not Hebrew, though looking at some faces it could have been in Swahili and they wouldn't have noticed!) and was prayed over by three family friends. The ceremony started at 7pm, the buffet at 8pm.

What was interesting was that about 20 guests arrived just in time for the food. Various excuses were given for missing the ceremony. Babysitters were late, couldn't get away from work early etc. I thought nothing of it until I heard that one guest confessed later to my sister that the real reason for his lateness was that he didn't want to be at the ceremony.

He'd heard it all before and 'if I heard it all again I would only get angry and have to walk out!'. This was no hot-head, this was a sensible level-headed and intelligent solicitor. I couldn't believe it and I realised that he was openly admitting what was probably going through the heads of most of these secular Jews, those who were there and those who purposely came late!

Perhaps you would have reacted in the same way? Thus were sown the seeds of this book. My desire was to write for these people who were so conditioned by history and tradition, that they were unable to listen to someone talk about what was in some way forbidden for them to hear.

I wanted to give a clear and honest explanation as to the background of my faith without going 'over the top' or being too preachy. My aim is for these articles to say, 'read this first, then decide if you feel the same way'.

If I can convince just one person that there would be no harm having an open mind and listening to these forbidden things, then I have succeeded.