The Nathanael Institute in Toronto was the centre for Jewish believers in Yeshua in Canada. Set up by the London Societe (CMJ) in the 1920s, it saw a distinguished stream of Jewish believers both come to faith, train and serve in ministry, including Marty Chernoff, who would later pioneer Beth Yeshua (Philiadelphia).
Daniel Nessim writes:
In 1945 the Institute was appointed “Canadian Headquarters for the International Hebrew Christian Alliance” with Rev. Jacob Pelz as secretary In effect, this suggests that the centre of Hebrew Christian life in Toronto was not focused solely on the American Alliance and the Hebrew Christian Synagogue founded by Rohold but was multifaceted and widespread.
The International Alliance, with its traditional role of fostering national alliances would have been a support and resource to the American Alliance. Thus he existence of different Alliances in Toronto evidences strength in numbers and organizing capacity in Toronto’s Hebrew Christian community.
In 1949 Kaminsky tendered his resignation, later to withdraw it, only to tender it again in 1955. From Toronto he moved to his wife’s home town, accepting an invitation to “work in Chicago at Peniel and Aedus Community Centers (sic).”
At a special meeting on 21 October 1955, this resignation was accepted and the name of Dr. Jocz suggested as a replacement.
With Dr. Jocz’s 1957 appointment as Morris Kaminsky’s successor, a new era for Toronto’s Hebrew Christian community began to emerge. As Kaminsky’s successor, Dr. Jocz became heir to “a small Jewish Congregation meeting on the premises.” Nevertheless, in the year he arrived, he had to report that “our weakest work is among adults.” Presumably this was due at least in part to the discontinuity of
leadership following Kaminsky’s resignation.
Hired in part because he was less than a “militant ‘evangelical,’” Jocz was an appropriate candidate for a church re-evaluating its commitment to Jewish evangelism. Thus Jocz’s leadership in evangelizing Jews was quickly undercut by theological and missiological changes in the Anglican church. In part this theological change was brought about by exposure to European theology which he himself helped introduce.
Prayer – Thank you Lord for the life and contribution of Jacob Jocz. Thank you also for the rich heritage of Hebrew Christianity on which the present-day Messianic Jewish movement is based.
Please raise up for us men and women of wisdom, stature and grace such as Jocz and Kaminsky – those willing to serve in mission and ministry, practical service and theological reflection, able to adapt to the changing currents of culture, theology and identity.
Lord, our world seems more confusing in many ways than theirs. Whilst they faced the tragedy of the Shoah at first hand, and grappled with issues of theology and personal identity as Jewish believers in Yeshua with less options than we have today, our choices seem to us less simple and more complex. Please can you give us satisfying answers in our desire to be faithful to our people, faithful to our Messiah, and good witness to you, o God, who rules the nation of Israel and all nations. Lord, will you show us as clearly as you showed Jacob Jocz his calling in life, his pilgrimage of faith, and the nature of his own contribution, as pastor, theologian and historian of our people and their Messiah. In Yeshua’s name and for his glory we pray – Amen
There will be several further posts on Jakob Jocz – he is a significant figure in the development of the Hebrew Christian movement, and a pioneer of Messianic Jewish theology (although he may not have welcomed such a description!) – I would like a chronology of his life – does anyone have one?
Jacob Jocz, third generation believer in Messiah
Jacob’s mother, Hannah, had come to faith in her early teens following in the footsteps of her father, Yochanan Don, a milkman from the Shtetl of Zelse, near Vilnius, Lithuania. Following Yochanan’s early death, her mother Sarah moved the family to Vilnius and supplemented her income by renting a room to a young yeshiva student, Bazyli Jocz. Unbeknownst to her, Bazyli was a secret believer. He had come to faith through reading the writings of Isaiah, and when failing to receive more than a severe reprimand to his questions at the yeshiva, had sought answers with a Lutheran missionary, a Jewish believer called Paul Frohwein, who had amazingly also been instrumental in leading Yochanan Don to faith. Bazyli continued to study at the yeshiva without saying a word to anyone of his faith. He also studied cabinetry, and became successful at his trade. When Hanna and Bazyli discovered that they were both Jewish believers in Jesus, they drew together, and eventually married. Jacob was their first son and was raised on the milk of the word.
After WWI Jacob was drafted into the Polish army. Following his service he trained with the CMJ in Warsaw, working as he trained. Following this he studied at the German Methodist seminary in Frankfurt for two years, and then to England where he completed training for Anglican ordination at St. Aidan’s College in Birkenhead. There, in 1935, he married Joan Celia Gapp, a missionary volunteer. They were assigned to the CMJ ministry in Poland, which work involved preaching throughout the area, as well as pastoring the Yiddish speaking messianic congregation in Warsaw.
At that time, many young Polish Jews were coming to faith in their Messiah. Jacob Jocz wrote in one report:
“Before we started, the church was filled and a bigger crowd was sent home than the one which was inside … We had before us a crowd of good-looking and well-behaved young men and women, who did not come out of curiosity, but who really sought something which could fill their lives. Mr Wolfin addressed them in Yiddish, and I spoke in Polish on the text, “I am the way”. It was indeed a very inspiring meeting”.
Later he wrote “When thousands of gentiles refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of Christ, Jewish men and women flock into the mission halls to hear and to learn about the wonderful Savior.”
Jacob Jocz was amazingly saved from the Nazi invasion of Poland, when he was abruptly called to speak at a conference in England whose key speaker had taken ill. His wife was there to have her first baby, and together they were spared the horrors of the war. But hundreds, if not thousands, of Jewish believers in Warsaw were murdered, along with their unbelieving brethren. After the war, Jacob learned that all but one of his family, his brother Paul, had been murdered. His father had been betrayed to the Gestapo and shot, and the rest of his family had perished in the death camps.
Jocz was appointed to head CMJ’s work in London, at which time he also completed post graduate studies in the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral thesis, The Jewish People and Jesus Christ, was published in 1949.
In 1956, He was invited to take charge of the Toronto Nathanael Institute, a large evangelism center in Toronto. In 1957 he became president of the Hebrew Christian Alliance. From 1960 on he occupied the chair of systematic theology in Wycliffe College, an Anglican theological seminary.
The above was based on an article written by Dr. Arthur Glasser, The Legacy of Jakob Jocz, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 1 1993, retrieved on May 3, 2009 from http://www.articlearchives.com/soceity-social-assistance-lifestyle/religion-spirituality/577857-1.html
The Jewish People and Jesus Christ, SPCK, 1949
A Theology of Election: Israel and the Church. London, SPCK, 1958
The Spiritual History of Israel. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1961
Christians and Jews: Encounter and Mission. London: SPCK, 1966
The Covenant: A Theology of Human Destiny. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1968
The Jewish People and Jesus Christ After Auschwitz. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981
War Without Peace: The Life and Times of Moishe Litvak, unpublished 1973 (autobiography)
Also – if you have never read Jacob Jocz – The Jewish people and Jesus Christ – or any of his other works – you are missing a treat!