otdimjh 3 November 1900 Max Rosenstrauch, pioneering Messianic Jew in Lemberg, completes his task on this day in Messianic Jewish history

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Max Rosenstrauch, who  was born and educated as a Jew at Lemberg, took up the  work, which he prosecuted with zeal and energy.(Gidney 1908:445)

Bernstein, who know Max Rosenstrauch (“Rose bush”) well and worked alongside him on several occasions summarises his life and ministry. Gidney also, in his history of CMJ, mentions him seven times. Here is Bernstein’s account:

Rosenstrauch, Max, was born at Lemberg, on September 1, 1837. His parents Moses and Scheindell, were strictly orthodox, and brought him up in the [433] straitest customs of strict Judaism. As he grew up, they were proud of his Talmudical knowledge, their intention being that he should become a rabbi. When seventeen years old, family circumstances compelled him, however, to go into business, and he was apprenticed to a merchant, with whom he remained ten years. In 1865, he accepted the post of a schoolmaster in Jassy.

Whilst there he heard of the Hebrew learning of the Rev. W. Mayer, one of the L.J.S. missionaries, and formerly a scholar in their mission schools in London. From him he received a New Testament, which he read with eagerness, leading him to take Christian instruction for eighteen months. Soon after this a strange event took place in his life. He had left Jassy, and was on a steamer going to Odessa, when the engine broke down. There being danger, the Captain called upon all the passengers to pray. This Max Rosenstrauch felt he could not do in the Name of Jesus Christ; all he could say was—”Lord, teach us to pray.” Later on the captain gave an earnest address to the passengers on St. John iii. 14, 15; this he did not fully understand, but what he did made a lasting impression upon him.

In 1867 he was in Kischineff, and of this period he says, “It only awakens in me painful reminiscences. My Talmudical supports had been broken by the instruction received at Jassy, and I fell altogether into unbelief. I could perform neither Jewish nor Christian prayers. I did not even believe in the existence of God. I sometimes disputed with the Scotch missionary, Mr. Tomory, and Mr. Daniel Landsmann, and they [434] knew me as a thorough infidel Jew. At Odessa I lived as an atheist, and I had no intercourse with any Christian. I was busy the whole day at a boarding-school, under Mr. Trübitsch. At Kischineff my slumbering conscience was aroused, and an unspeakable struggle agitated my heart, until the Lord opened my eyes, and in every page of the Bible I saw the glory of Him who said, ‘I am the Light of the World.’ In His Name I was baptized on Easter Day, 1868.”

After some years of missionary work with continental societies, he joined the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, in which he remained till his death, November 3, 1900. The “Prayer-book for Jewesses” and his “Catechism for Jews,” which he wrote, have been most useful in his work, and in that of the above Society generally.

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Gidney gives a little more information: M. Rosenstrauch  continued his zealous work at Lemberg, instructing each year  a small band of enquirers, varying from three to twenty in  number, six of whom were baptized at Lemberg, and more  elsewhere, in Germany, England, and America. The anti-Semitic agitation, and the Zionist movement [sic], had to be  added to the things which militated against the progress of the  Gospel in this great Jewish city. Notwithstanding this,  Rosenstrauch spoke of the work “advancing all along the line”in 1896 [?], of a larger number of enquirers than in any previous  year, and of a more extensive distribution of the New  Testament. He was not permitted to carry on his good work much longer, for, in consequence of protracted illness, he passed  away in November 1900, after a most faithful service of nearly a quarter of a century, first in the Rhine Provinces and then  in his native Galicia. His “Prayer Book for Jewesses” and “Catechism for Jews” have proved of great help, especially in the instruction of enquirers.

Prayer: Lord, may it be said of us as of Max Rosenstrauch that we took up the work ‘with zeal and energy’. We would love to know more of this Jewish disciple of yours, and can only imagine the journey of faith he undertook, the trials he faced, and the experiences he had. May we, a century later, know your strength and comfort as he did, and may we, like him, continue to share your love wherever we find ourselves, and with all the tools and resources you give us. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.

Wanted – photos and any further information about Max Rosenstrauch – all information will be gratefully received and acknowledged.

Gidney – http://archive.org/stream/historylondonso00gidngoog/historylondonso00gidngoog_djvu.txt

Bernstein – http://www.gutenberg.org/files/37734/37734.thttp://www.gutenberg.org/files/37734/37734.txt

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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