A lover of Israel

Our friend Dorothy just passed away this afternoon at the age of 96, at her daughter’s home, surrounded by family and friends. We first got to know Dorothy in 1996, when she was part of a mixed group of 60 Baptists and Messianic Jews that we took on tour to Israel. Dorothy’s younger and older sisters came too, the three sisters, all near or well past 80, sharp, personable, curious, and filled with love for Israel and Yeshua.

Since the tour, we’d get together with Dorothy from time to time, usually at the Albuquerque Country Club for lunch in a rather swanky setting with elegant service overlooking the golf course shaded by old cottonwoods. Dorothy had the right composure and sense of dignity for the place, but never put on any airs. You could always be real and relaxed around her and the only pressure I felt was from her eagerness to hear all the latest about Israel and the unfolding of biblical prophecy. She became a UMJC supporter after I took on my current position, and kept the focus well into her 90s, in fact right up to a few days before her end. It was hard for her to form words, but she still had questions about Israel and Scripture and our work in Messianic Judaism.

I stopped by Dorothy’s daughter’s house yesterday, even though we’d been there the day before, because I knew her time was limited. The day before, I’d spoken the Aaronic benediction over her in Hebrew and English, and she got tears in her eyes when we finished, even though she didn’t seem to have enough strength to cry. But yesterday she was no longer conscious at all, just a shrunken body struggling to breathe. When I came in, two Baptist ladies were singing hymns, with a light and sweet air that filled the room, hymns about going to heaven and receiving a reward, and they all seemed perfectly fitting, as if Dorothy were not struggling to breathe, but struggling for take-off, marshalling her last ounces of strength for the great transition ahead. Just as she’d always been alert and focused when we met, she seemed somehow focused now on what lay ahead. The moment was holy and I read Psalm 91 over her, substituting “she” for “he.”

“Because she has set her love upon Me, therefore I will deliver her;

I will set her on high, because she has known My name.

She shall call upon Me, and I will answer her;

I will be with her in trouble;

I will deliver her and honor her.

With long life I will satisfy her,

And show her My salvation.”

After that, the Baptist ladies sang “How Great Thou Art,” and we bid farewell to Dorothy, a lover of God and a lover of Israel.


4 thoughts on “A lover of Israel”

  1. Dear Rabbi,
    Thank you for sharing this heart-warming story of your friend.
    Since I’ve begun reading blogs, I’ve noticed the amount of controversial and sometimes defamatory content. It is so refreshing to read your inspiring and balanced perspectives on life and living. And I love that you try to be as inclusive as possible of various streams of belief. Thanks.

  2. Shalom Russ,

    Blessings! What a testimony about how to go on to be with our Lord. Thanks for your inspiration and showing how to be available when the time is time.


    1. Hi Terry,

      Last month another friend passed away. A few days before she died, she sent a message asking me to visit on Erev Shabbat. I wasn’t able to make it, and I knew she had a few other friends with her, so I went the next day. By then, she was unconscious and never came to again. I felt like I’d turned down a rare, special invitation and was determined not to do it again. When we heard that Dorothy was declining rapidly, I dropped everything (with some helpful encouragement from my wife) and made the visit. I’m thankful that I did.

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