Jay Rubin – Austin, Texas
My four decades of Jewish professional leadership across the United States brought me into contact with all manner of Christians, including (gratefully) Bob O’Dell. But even so, his wide-ranging new book took me by surprise. In forty concise and impactful chapters, Bob goes well beyond his passion of educating fellow Christians about the Judaic roots of their faith. His insights, along with the questions posed to Israeli educator Gidon Ariel, lay the groundwork for nothing less than a transformational reset in relations between Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews. While not everything in Bob’s book resonates with my traditional Jewish beliefs, much does. Five Years with Orthodox Jews is a personal, intellectual and spiritual journey well worth taking.
Jay Rubin, Austin, Texas
Pastor Trey Graham – Melissa, Texas
If you are a Christian lover of Israel, or wonder if you should be, this book is for you. Bob O’Dell the author uses the same skills of research and analysis and creative thinking that made Bob O’Dell the businessman so successful. As a Christian or a Jew, you may not always agree with Bob, but you will be forced to think through important biblical concepts. This is a book written by my friend about my friends. I am honored to recommend it.
Rev. Trey Graham, Pastor, Author, Columnist, Radio Host
David Rubin – Shiloh, Israel
After centuries of persecution, coerced conversion, expulsion, and genocide, Jews have learned to be wary of Christian intentions, no matter how sincere they may seem to be. In these prophetic times that we are living through, there has been a vibrant, yet hesitant rapprochement between Orthodox/religious Jews in Israel and pro-Israel Christians around the world. Many of us who are active in the biblical heartland of Israel are carefully, yet enthusiastically navigating that journey, which is in itself a fulfillment of prophecy. Author Bob O’Dell is to be commended for honestly exploring the process of bridge-building from our often very different faith-based perspectives, based on a ground-breaking core position of mutual tolerance and respect. Definitely worthwhile reading for many Christians, Jews, and all friends of Israel!
David Rubin, FMR Mayor of Shiloh Israel, Author of Trump and the Jews, Founder and President of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund
Sharon Sanders – Jerusalem, Israel
“During my years spent with searching for and visiting the Dry Bones who made it out of the smoking ashes of Europe during WWII, I met an Auschwitz survivor who said to me “On the day of the liberation of Auschwitz I remember it well. Someone gave us bread.. and then I looked up at Nazi soldiers lined up against a wall. My eyes saw one soldier who looked hungry. I made my way to him and gave him my bread”. The lump in my throat is still there! What Bob O’Dell has learned about the Jewish people, I hope will blow some head strong and opinionated assumptions out the door. The book is a vital resource of bedrock information for anyone interested in Jewish-Christian relations. His journey was absolutely necessary to experience it all first hand. The Church still owes the Jewish people a heartfelt and universal repentance. The future fullness for the Church will never be complete without repentance it. If a Christian has never drank from the wells of Jacob, they are operating without full knowledge of the blessings they are missing. In the future stages of redemption for Israel, the Church needs to admit they did wrong in the Eyes of God when most turned the head and walked away from the needs of starving people. As with the story of our precious holocaust survivor from Auschwitz, a Church who wishes to be a Bride, needs to put her feet in action to do what her heart knows needs to be done. The whole book hangs on one thing: how dare we share the Gospel of a Jesus whose name the Church itself muddied during the worst time in history for the Jewish people–and never even stop to build a friendship.”
Sharon Sanders, Co-Founder Christian Friends of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel
Consul General Gilad Katz – Houston, Texas
As a current official of the Israeli government, Consul General Gilad Katz is unable to write any specific endorsement for the book, but after reviewing the manuscript he has granted permission for his name to be listed among the other endorsers of Five Years with Orthodox Jews, Insights from Israel at the Intersection of the Jewish and Christian Worlds.
Gilad Katz, Consul General of Israel to the Southwest
David Pitcher – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bob O’Dell has listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit for the years that I have known him. And that listening has taken him “outside the box” of conventional wisdom to a place where he is today, bringing “the people of the Book”, Jews and Christians together. The thoughts in this book are the thoughts of a man whose wisdom is awe-inspiring because they are directed by the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t put Five Years with Orthodox Jews down and chapter after chapter new insights kept me hungering for more. Thank you Bob for this box of treasures!
David Pitcher, Jr., MD, FAAOS, Emeritus
Dr. Brad Young
The book, Five Years with Orthodox Jews, written by Bob O’Dell is a riveting story of a spiritual journey into a revolutionary new mindset. Bob is a very successful business leader in the world of high tech. His profession brought him to Israel where he developed meaningful relationships with Orthodox Jews. Bob is a deeply committed Christian thought leader. Gidon Ariel is a deeply committed, shomer Shabbat, i.e. Sabbath observing, Yeshiva trained, Orthodox Jewish thought leader. They have built a powerful educational organization, Root Source, which creates learning opportunities for Christians. The Apostle Paul was educated at the feet of the esteemed Rabban Gamaliel and the entire New Testament is a collection of writings from a Jewish perspective (Acts 22:3). Bob and Gidon have partnered together in Root Source to enable Christians to study the Bible with Orthodox Jewish teachers.
In 1978 I went to Hebrew University to study the origins of Christianity under Jewish scholars in Israel. As an aspiring Christian educator, I was shocked by a question. A Christian friend asked me, “What can you learn about Jesus from a Jew?” This Christian friend was troubled by the old mindset. From his vantage point, Christianity is the antithesis of Judaism. Today millions of devout Christian believers have changed their mindset and now recognize the supreme value of learning about the Jewish roots of their faith. Like the Apostle Paul, they would be proud to say that they studied with Rabban Gamaliel. Today as never before, many Christians long for the opportunity to study respectfully with Jewish rabbis and scholars.
The old Christian mindset is rooted in the legacy of hatred, prejudice, and persecution of the Jewish people. One Israeli educator who spoke to my class observed, “All my life I have studied Jewish history, and I know why in the past Christians have hated us. However, I do not understand why you now love us.” The new mindset is one of genuine love and of true appreciation. This mindset recognizes the need for learning and cooperation. No one can change the history of past persecution, but everyone can work together to build bridges of understanding through education for a much better future. Many in the Jewish community recognize that major change is happening.
Bob and Gidon represent a revolutionary transformation of mindset within the Christian and Jewish communities. This new mindset demands a transformation of how each perceives the other. Bob is a businessman. He is not an ordained minister or an academically trained Christian educator. Gidon is not an ordained rabbi even though he has devoted many years of study in Yeshiva. These two men have partnered together in friendship and in purpose. The book portrays a five year journey with honesty, dignity, and “wow” surprises. For many in the Jewish and Christian communities, this book is a treasure store of insights for the crossroads. As thought leaders, both Bob and Gidon provide role models for effective change through brave openness and sincere interaction even when discussing very controversial issues. Education is change. Torah learning will produce meaningful change. Jesus himself declared that he did not come to destroy the Torah and the prophets.
Sadly many Christians have adopted the view: accepting faith in Jesus means rejecting the faith of Jesus. On the contrary, the faith of Jesus strengthens and enriches the Christian’s faith in Jesus. Jesus brought ethical monotheism to the world. He emphasized that loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31) is fulfilling the true meaning of Torah. The Shema affirms the one true God of Israel (Deut. 6:4). Ethical conduct is required in applying Torah principles in everyday life. The Judaism of Jesus that valued his people, their faith experience, and their homeland was not considered an heirloom of the past dispensation in New Testament teachings. Jesus taught that Jerusalem would be in ruin for a time, but restoration was sure to come (Luke 21:24; Acts 1:6-7). Moses and the Hebrew prophets are essential for sound Christian theology. Christians will never understand Jesus without knowing and valuing the Jewish people as family and their faith traditions as the root source of everything good in Christianity. In reality, a Christian can and should learn about Jesus from faithful Jews who have kept their faith in spite of pogroms, persecutions, and the holocaust.
In fact, Christians will discover Jewish wisdom for practicing their faith even when Torah learning does not directly relate to the origins of Christianity. Christians should want to learn about Judaism and the Jewish community because they want to understand and value partners in ethical monotheism. Relationships must be developed and treasured. Christians should love the Jewish people as they are and accept them. Christians should be known for their love rather than being in the right and persecuting anyone they consider to be in the wrong. Christians and Jews largely agree on the Hebrew Scriptures but interpret these sacred writings in different ways. Surely the writers of the New Testament used methods of interpretation similar to those utilized throughout early Jewish literature. The Talmud and Torah studies are rich sources of learning and discovery for the faith of Jesus and his people during the Second Temple Period. In addition, Talmud and Torah teachings give practical application for today. Jewish wisdom gives meaningful application in the past and for the present. This Jewish wisdom is for all time.
Christians need to learn from Orthodox Jews. They need to study in Israel. In this one of a kind, informative book, Bob presents his fresh understanding of Scripture texts, current issues, and historic events. After expressing his original thoughts and sharing these insights, Bob then asked Gidon specific questions pertaining to Jewish concerns. Some of these questions might seem bold, nervy, or even at times offensive. However, Gidon answers them with insight rooted in traditional Jewish teachings. In Jewish learning, all questions are valid. True learning results from asking the right questions and answering them honestly. Bob, the Christian thought leader and Gidon, the Orthodox Jewish thought leader interact with each other through trust, friendship, and respect. They do not merely tolerant one another’s distinctive viewpoints, they affirm each other with dignity. The book possesses a brilliant format and involves the reader in every step of the journey. Flashes of genius express new ideas and restate older concepts in more meaningful ways.
The book is a page turner. It is a must-read source describing a powerful five year journey. It surprises, inspires, and motivates. Every pastor, educator, seminary student, Sunday school teacher, and Christian believer will greatly benefit from reading this book. The discussion of Romans 9, 10, and 11 demonstrates that replacement theology was already a problem in the first century. It may surprise many Christians that already the Apostle Paul was challenging the non-Jewish believers to recognize Israel as the children of Abraham with covenants and promises that endure. Bob’s presentation of his experience leading marriage enrichment seminars with his wife was extremely helpful. Husbands and wives do not always agree. But each one must learn to build relationship even when disagreements tear loving partners apart. Building the relationship is far more important than winning the argument. Christians and Jews may agree to disagree on key issues, but now both communities are choosing to disagree agreeably in order to build relationships. In truth, Bible believing Christians and Orthodox Jews share much common ground in multiple disciplines. A thought leader building bridges of understanding between the Jewish and Christian communities could be compared to the effort required to reunite a divorced couple after a nasty divorce. Jews and Christians may need to develop a love language to effectively communicate with one another after so many years of missed opportunities. Certainly meaningful communication skills are required to bridge the chasm of darkness. Many years ago when I was dating my wife, she said to me, “I feel safe with you.” At that point, I realized we were becoming serious about marriage. Now many in the Jewish community recognize that numerous Christians have changed from the old mindset. Perhaps we are reaching a new intersection where Jewish educators feel safe teaching Christians. Gidon feels safe with Bob. They have a relationship of trust. Christians must earn the trust of the Jewish community. The Talmud teaches that when a person is ready to study, then a rabbi will come on the scene to teach. Many Christians are now feeling the need to study, to learn, and to experience renewal.
Root Source is the fruit of faith renewal and a transformation of mindset. Bob’s new book will pierce the conscience and will challenge the soul. Familiar texts of Scripture are thoughtfully reexamined in a way that touches the heart and encourages a response. His five years of experience with Orthodox Jews, Gidon and many others mentioned in the book, will make the reader laugh, cry, repent, and seek reconciliation. Such reconciliation leads to deep spiritual renewal. Bob invites the reader to experience the journey. The Jewish tradition does not preserve a putrid cistern of poisoned drink, but rather it preserves an ever flowing stream of fresh water that can bring renewal to Christian faith and practice. Bob’s approach of study and innovation invigorates practical application. Gidon said, “Everything is in God’s hand except for the fear of God (Brachot 33b). In other words, God has absolute power over everything, except what each individual person decides for himself or herself.” Gidon’s insightful discussion of pertinent issues focuses on the fear of God and the decisions each one of us makes. Bob carefully unpacks a new mindset. This transformation in mindset will bring about a renewal of faith and a joining of hands between Christians and Jews. We will always be stronger in our individual faith experiences when we stand together.
Rabbi Akiva affirmed,“Freedom of choice is given.” This five year spiritual journey of transformation will pave the way for decisive action. It encourages everyone to exercise the freedom of choice. Bob does not allow the reader to stand aside as a detached observer. The reader experiences the joy of discovery. Bob’s personal experience is sure to produce new possibilities. Not only will each reader enjoy the story of this life changing journey, but they will be motivated to find new ways to build relationships of trust through education and learning. No one should miss the opportunity of studying this book and making decisions to create a new and meaningful mindset for life transformation. A fresh biblical mindset promises to make spiritual renewal through reconciliation a reality.
Brad H. Young, PhD., Professor Emeritus of Judaic Christian Studies at The Graduate School of Theology Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Bible Translator, Hebrew Heritage Bible Newer Testament
Rabbi Tuly Weisz
I have always admired Bob O’Dell’s commitment to Root Source, been humbled by his passion for repentance on the 9th of Av, and am now so enthusiastic about his new book, “Five Years with Orthodox Jews.” As one of those Orthodox Jews, I am so grateful that God would raise up such a faithful friend to Israel, in our generation, such as Bob O’Dell. If you are a Christian interested in learning more about Israel and the Jewish people, “Five Years with Orthodox Jews” is the most important book – besides the Bible – for you to read this year. I pray that every Christian would read Bob’s book to better understand the heart of a Jew, and in doing so, we could finally move past our bitter history and bring about our shared destiny articulated by the Prophet Zefaniah (3:9), “For then I will make the peoples pure of speech, so that they all invoke Hashem by name and serve Him with one accord.”
Rabbi Naphtali “Tuly” Weisz, Founder of Israel365 and Publisher of The Israel Bible, Beit Shemesh, Israel
Pastor David Swaggerty
As the Senior Pastor who has been privileged to minister to one congregation for 37 continuous years, I have had the opportunity (and cause) to read many books. Some, I’ve read from start to finish. Others, part way before permanently “shelfing” them. But many have found themselves most useful just taking up space on my bookcase. You know how that goes. Reading books can be like taking an elevator ride- you get in and start your journey upward. Sometimes the ride can be very slow and you may be tempted to exit before reaching the top.
However, when I picked up the manuscript for “Five Years with Orthodox Jews” Insights from Israel at the Intersection of the Jewish and Christian Worlds, I took an elevator ride that was one of the greatest literary experiences I’ve ever encountered with a book. From cover-to-cover, the content is so relevant and meaningful to this moment in time. I couldn’t put it down!
Never having met Bob O’Dell in person, I have felt an instant Spiritual connection with him through his writings. Bob has put into words what every Pastor (and layman who recognizes our Christian root connection with the Jewish people and the Land of Israel) needs to know. This truly amazing book is filled with scriptural insights, bringing to light the faith and values that we share with our Jewish (Mishpacha) brothers.
“Five Years with Orthodox Jews” is more than just an informative and enjoyable read- it is truly a study manual that will continue to teach, encourage, and lead us into the future. As we trust HaShem, the G-d of Heaven, to direct our footsteps, we continue building relationships between Jews and Christians.
On almost every page, I wanted to stop and shout Yes! Yes! Bob O’Dell has put into print what so many have been thinking and not quite knowing how to proceed in building these bridges. Enjoy your elevator ride all the way to the top with this book!
Rev. David Swaggerty, Senior Pastor, Charismalife Ministries, Columbus, Ohio
Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever you like to drink and settle in with “Five Years With Orthodox Jews.” Reading it is like sitting on the sidelines of a great conversation among friends, friends of mine and people who even if you don’t know them in person, you’ll come away feeling as if you do. The dialogue between them and the wide range of topics covered give the feeling as if you were in a café, or more intimate setting of one of their homes, sitting on the sidelines of a conversation between friends.
One unique feature it that it looks at Judaism through a Christian prism, rather than imposing a Christian understanding of Judaism. Bob has a beautiful talent at getting right at the heart of the matter and that’s experienced abundantly here. He doesn’t judge or draw conclusions, but asks questions, relates to the Bible and the human experience, and shares what he learns with us all.
When we take a step outside ourselves and the framework with which we look at things that have been ingrained, we can start to see, and understand others. Nowhere is this more important than Christians and Jews understanding one another, specifically because Judaism is the foundation of Christianity, the root. Bob guides that conversation expertly.
I feel like I am a fly on the wall between two friends for whom I have tremendous respect. The volley of questions and answers, and the framing Jewish tradition in a way that Christians can understand it, and the application of this to what’s significant for Christians and how to build bridges between Jews and Christians is special.
Other than the chapter in which I am mentioned, Chapter 12 particularly resonated and seemed to be a turning point in Bob connecting with the Jewish people through the cycle of reading the Torah. He realized that its bigger than him, and that people all over the world are connecting to the same scripture every week. It’s a very powerful observation, and very powerful as a Jew to see that new level of awareness.
President, Genesis123 Foundation and Columnist, Townhall.com and Charisma News, Efrat, Israel
Dr. Marvin Wilson
It is a pleasure to write this letter of endorsement for a new book I have recently read, Five Years with Orthodox Jews, authored by Bob O’Dell and Gidon Ariel. I strongly believe every Christian leader should read this book.
Recently I stepped back from a Christian college teaching career of fifty-five years at an evangelical institution where I specialized in Christian-Jewish relations, the Jewish roots of Christianity, modern Judaism and Israel. I must say, after leading more than twenty-five educational study tours to Israel, I was especially intrigued by this new title of O’Dell and Ariel. After carefully reading it, I can assure you it is a unique book, quite unlike others dealing with Jews and the land of Israel. It reads like an exciting autobiography or adventure story, filled with unusual personal experiences by an evangelical Christian (Bob) with commentary and reactions in most every chapter by his close personal friend, an orthodox Israeli Jew (Gidon).
If you have ever wondered what a deep friendship between an evangelical Christian and orthodox Jew can result in from years of each other’s company, this is the book to read. Bob’s style is brisk, honest, engaging and powerful. He writes as if you are listening in on a private conversation between best friends willing to share from the heart their honest questions and thoughts about Scripture, God, Messiah, prayer, anti-Semitism, the miraculous, Israel’s past and future and more.
A businessman, entrepreneur, scientist and lay leader, Bob writes from chapter to chapter with a sense of awe, wonder and radical amazement as his Christian walk takes him from one new discovery to another. This is no dry, tedious, repetitious read but one filled with surprises and unusual insights on Christianity and Judaism that few Christians have seriously thought about. Bob’s exciting story amid orthodox Israeli Jews is bound to whet your appetite for more.
The book will uplift and stir you concerning the nearness and greatness of God. But it will also challenge every Christian for the need to reverse a two thousand year mainly negative history to establish positive, loving friendships with our Jewish neighbors.
Each chapter is framed as a dialogue between Bob’s experiences and questions as a Christian and Gidon’s reactions and answers as a Jew. Whether you agree with every idea or interpretation in the book or not, the exchanges between Bob and Gidon are priceless. The narrative will show you how respectful, candid, interfaith conversation can transform and expand one’s thinking into a splendid new world of appreciation of God’s image and wisdom in others.
I urge you to come and listen in on this provocative and exciting dialogue between an evangelical Christian and an orthodox Jew. But beware and prepared! If you do, you may see God and the Holy Spirit differently and understand Jews and Christians differently. I highly recommend Five Years with Orthodox Jews. I promise, you will wish it were ten years!
Marvin R. Wilson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Gordon College, Department of Biblical and Theological Studies, Author of Our Father Abraham and Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage
Rabbi Yehudah Glick
Not only does this book boost my faith for a promising future between The People of Israel and believers from the Nations, this book is a reflective mirror for us, allowing us to see ourselves as we are seen. Sincere yet modest, so many passages touched my heart. From this book we gain a deeper understanding of what Hashem expects from The People of Israel and His chosen Jerusalem as a light to the nations. I pray we are worthy of this assignment.
President, Shalom Jerusalem Foundation and former Member of Knesset