When the modern Jewish nation of Israel was born in 1948, the Jewish community of Morocco was 2,500 years old and numbered about 800,000 souls. In the next 20 years, 90% of them moved to Israel due to increasing harassment by their Muslim neighbors resentful of Israel’s rebirth. Tzachi’s parents had already come with their parents to pre-state Israel in the mid 1940’s. His paternal grandfather would serve as rabbi in an Israeli synagogue for over 40 years. Tzachi’s parents grew up in Israel then met and married. Tzachi (nickname for Isaac) was born in the ancient port city of Akko in 1977. One year later his father left and he was raised by his mother. Twenty years later Tzachi finally met his father who was living in Jerusalem with a new wife and 7 children. He was very religious but not very nice. He insisted there be no questions about the past, but that they could start over from this point. However, his words were empty and he never contacted Tzachi again.
Tzachi, like many Moroccan Jews was very traditionally observant but had no problem with going to a soccer game on Saturday after returning from the synagogue. He was a decent young man, not into sex or drugs or drinking. He worked hard and he served his time in the army. However, in June of 2001, at the age of 24 he went to America. He was tired of Israel and didn’t like Akko. Because he had some relatives there, he went to Dallas, Texas. Soon he had two cars, his own apartment, and a job with a moving company that enabled him to see the USA.
The Divine Phone Call
Two days before Passover in 2002, the company called him to do a small moving job. He was reluctant because of the proximity of the holiday, but his partner convinced him they could do it quickly. This was a divine appointment: God’s intervention to get him where he needed to be in spite of his own ideas.
His customer was Rebecca, an American Jewish woman, 38. She was so personable they spent 7 hours there and Tzachi felt very strongly that he needed to somehow stay in contact. She accepted an invitation to his family’s Moroccan celebration called Memuna held after the last day of Passover. Rebecca knew that God was building this relationship, but it was not to be a romantic one. Tzachi saw the peace she had, and the atmosphere in her apartment was different from any he had experienced. They studied the Tenach (Old Testament) and he loved the stories. He was not negative at all about Yeshua. Yet all this time he continued attending an Orthodox synagogue and served as a right hand man to the rabbi. What Tzachi did not realize at the time was that he was not just learning nice stories, but something that would require a life commitment.
Several times Tzachi visited a Messianic synagogue, but it was strange to him in spite of the friendliness of the people. He met an Israeli believer, who, unlike Rebecca, was extremely “in your face” with the gospel. This angered Tzachi and he told Rebecca he didn’t want to hear any more. She was loving and kind and said that regardless of his choice, she would always be there for him. He then felt he must continue, all the while asking God for a sign if this was really from Him.
Tzachi Being Chased
One day he was sent to a house to give an estimate and was warned by his employer that the woman who lived there was an anti-Semite. At the house she watched him with an angry expression. He excused himself and found a bathroom at the far end of her large home. There in front of him on a shelf was a book that caught his eye. He was shocked by the title, “How to Get a Heart Like Jesus.” The Spirit of God gripped him and he knew it was no accident. He said to Yeshua, “You have followed me and spoken to me even here in the house of an anti-Semite.” When he later explained to Rebecca what had happened, she told him that the previous 10 months were like a university for him, but now it was time to stop running and make a decision. He knew this was right and he prayed to receive the Messiah. Not too long afterwards he told the rabbi what had happened. The rabbi became very angry and told Tzachi he was brainwashed and no longer welcome in the synagogue. Though his words were hurtful, Tzachi’s experience was stronger. He became closer with Rebecca’s believing friends and regularly attended the Messianic synagogue.
In November 2003, his mother became ill, and Tzachi returned to Israel to help care for her. Friends in Dallas connected him with Tents of Mercy and he met Guy Cohen who is also an Akko native of Moroccan and Yemenite background. Guy is leading the new congregation in Akko of which Tzachi is now an intrinsic part. When asked what he would tell our readers, Tzachi said he would say the same thing he said to the rabbi in Dallas. “The way I found my Messiah, you can too. But you have to be willing to step out of the familiar boundaries that we use to protect ourselves and be willing to receive from God Himself whatever the cost.”
“Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” Hebrews 13:12,13