Zachariah Karp, take one.
I grew up in the States, I was born in Washington D.C. to a Jewish father and to a non-Jewish mother. As a child, I was extremely outgoing. I loved people, I smiled a lot, I had a lot of friends, I mean, look at my face. It’s approachable, you know. And then at the age of twelve, in my comfortable, American life, my parents told me that I was moving to Israel. I was taken out of this bubble, this tiny, sheltered place that I found myself in, and I was transferred to a whole new world.
When I got to Israel, that safety zone that I had set up for myself completely imploded. I was coming from a culture where you were polite. “Yes, thank you, no, thank you. How are you doing Mr. Smith?” Israelis who on one hand, would curse at you in traffic, but the next moment when you had a flat tire would help you. And we became this normal, this normal, Israeli, ah, kinda normal Israeli family.
I love hummus, I love falafel, I love shawarma, I love being in the Middle East. Now, wheres my sufganiyah? One of the hardest things that I had to do was tell people that I believed in Yeshua. In fact, often, what I would do, is I would just, I would just hide it. Cause I was scared of the fact that I would tell them that I’m a believer, I was scared of it.
So at my high school, I had a couple of friends come up and ask me, they said, “So Zach, why aren’t you religious, why don’t you wear things, like tzitzit or kippah?” I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t have a good answer. I didn’t want to reveal to them that I believed in Yeshua. And so finally it got to the point where I said, “You know, I do believe in my Jewish background, but I also believe in Yeshua.” And that point, they said, “Oh, well that’s okay, because your father’s Jewish, right, your mom isn’t Jewish?” And so, a moment ago, I was Jewish enough to become religious, but the moment I believe in Yeshua, I was not Jewish enough to do that as well.
I didn’t know where to put myself in these boxes. I felt like I fit nowhere, I’m American, I’m Israeli, I’m Jewish but I believe in Yeshua, and people just didn’t understand. I would tell them I was a Christian, and they’d say, “Oh, but I thought you were Jewish?” And I’d say, “Well no no, I am Jewish, but I believe in Jesus.” And this was weird now. Because for the first time in my life, the two contradicted.
I naturally like people, and I want people to like me. Because what I cared about was what they thought of me. I remember at that time, all I could think about was myself. It was about how to conceal this Messiah, this being that gave me my identity. How to cover it up, and not to show other people, but to tell them about it. But the crazy thing is, my Messiah, hung on a tree, to die for me, to give me life. And here I was, trying to conceal the very Person that gave me the ability to breathe.
Who I was, my identity, where I belonged, which box I fit in, I was never able to find satisfaction in it. Yeshua was the only individual and personal individual that was able to provide me with true satisfaction. He was able to love me deeply, and care for me, and search the depths of my heart like no one or nothing ever has before. The fact that this love was so great, was so big and was so unselfish, that it would give itself for me even until death. I knew I had no other way to live.