Moving to Israel as a Christian Zionist

February 1, 2013 1:49 am 8 comments

Maggy Vetterling and her husband Kurt. Photo: Courtesy Maggy Vetterling.

Why Israel?

My husband Kurt and I, as Christian Zionists, have constantly gotten that question since we moved to the Jewish state.

We met in 2008 at a pro-Israel event hosted by the church where he was a pastor. At the time, I worked in Israel advocacy and was one of two Christians in an otherwise entirely Jewish office. I had been sent to network with the church that evening, so I suppose you could say it was a success, as we were married two years later.

Growing up, I was always drawn to learning about Judaism and the importance of strong Jewish-Christian relations, to the point of making it my major in college. Learning about Israel was as much a passion of mine as was writing or cooking; it simply drew me in. Kurt was taught by his church to love Israel, but visited for the first time in 2010 and realized, on his own, how truly important it was.

Then came our proverbial “bend in the road,” our life-changing event. It was April 14, 2012, the day we called our boss to say that we were quitting our jobs and moving to Israel. We made the call when we were out taking our dog, Lucy, for a walk. It was an epic, life-changing phone call, so naturally it dropped three times. I sat on the sidewalk, Lucy sat in someone’s yard, and Kurt walked around with his cell phone high in the air. Looking back, I suppose it’s a good thing we’re not superstitious.

Despite our prior knowledge about and affinity for the Jewish state, no one on the Internet had put up a step-by-step guide on how to quit your job, sell your home and move to the Middle East. I know, because I looked. Although, if there were, it would probably suggest having a job or a place to live once you arrived. We didn’t even have someone to pick us up at the airport. After all, we aren’t Jewish.

Leading up to our move, we felt like our lives were being called in a different direction, literally, about 7,000 miles east. The idea of traveling to Israel with no promise of landing on our feet conflicted with my upbringing as a banker’s daughter who valued logic and stability. It did not, however, conflict with our faith. We believed we were being led out of our jobs and our stable lifestyle to something a bit more risky, but substantially more fulfilling.

At the time, it seemed to many that we had foregone any sense of wisdom, but we disagreed. The wisest choice does not always look like the best one. Besides, the worse-case scenario was that we would spend three months in one of our favorite places in the world and would not have to live with the “What if?”

Within one month we had sold our home. In fact, it took us longer to stage it than to sell it. We eased out of our jobs, sold our SUV, boxed up our belongings and somehow convinced my in-laws to keep Lucy, despite the protests of their small lap dog. My husband and I arrived in Tel Aviv on July 27, just a few hours before Shabbat descended. Exhausted and admittedly nervous, we hauled our duffel bags out of the airport and took a sherut (shared taxi) to Jerusalem. I remember sitting in the last seat of the van and looking out the window, watching the landscape go by and desperately hoping that we had made the right decision.

Two weeks later, once we had settled into a place to stay, we began visiting various organizations. Perhaps, if we pushed on doors, then the right one would open. We were determined, however, not be another Zionist couple on a mission to the “Holy Land” with a twinkle in their eyes and a Bible under their arms. In fact, we happen to firmly believe that more Christians should understand modern Judaism. Not just because “God blesses those that bless Israel,” but instead because as logical, educated individuals, my husband and I stand with Israel.

We believe in Israel and the Jewish people. We began attending a local congregation and suddenly felt as though we had known this community all our lives. Here were people who loved Israel, who sold their homes and left their stable salaries to work, volunteer or simply visit the country we loved so much. They too felt honored to be amongst a chosen people and dared to pursue a life they loved. As it turned out, in a few months my husband was offered a position at our (now local) congregation.

We would not (do not) make a salary, but rely fully on the monetary support of individuals who similarly love Israel and the Jewish people, and understand our desire to live in the Jewish state. Our Israeli friends seem amazed that others would support us to live here. It’s an honor we don’t take lightly to show them that Zionism still exists, and not only among the Jews.

Convictions and faith aside, we simply believe in living life to the fullest and allowing God to direct our steps. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway,” so we did. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Maggy Vetterling grew up in New England and moved to Colorado when she and her husband, Kurt, were married in 2010. She is the writer and editor for their congregation in Jerusalem, and also chronicles their new life in Israel on her blog Living Tall.

8 Comments

  • I’ve always wondered if the typical American Christian Zionist “white person” considers Jews as just another set of white people, however with a different religion, indeed a “father” religion to theirs.

    The majority of Jews in the US [and the world] being Ashkenazim , that’s what these Christian Zionists tend to be familiar with , if they are familiar with Jewry at all. I just have to wonder if these people knew of Iraqi Jews, Iranian Jews, Yemen Jews or Moroccan Jews if they’d give Jews the same fervor of support. That’s not even getting into Indian Jews, Chinese Jews or Ethiopian Jews!

    Another thing I wonder about and consider even more important is — What do Christian Zionists think about Jewish converts? Since Christian Zionists believe that Jews are a chosen “race” of people – how on earth do they reconcile this belief with conversion?

    If they do recognize converts as being grafted into the covenant of Jewish people , then I have to ask — Why don’t these Christian Zionists convert to Judaism themselves?

    If they don’t recognize converts as being among the Jewish people, included in the covenant, grafted into the line of Abraham Isaac and Jacob etc that would open a gigantic can of worms wouldn’t it?

  • The State of Israel should not allowed to make aliyah and deny that Christians should make some kind of yishub in Erretz Israel.

    • American Christians, are the greatest supporters of the Jewish people and Israel,in America.

      American Christians are being persecuted in their country now because of their faith (which includes the belief that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, etc.)American Christians need and deserve the support and help of Israel.

  • The State of Israel should not allowed to make aliyah and prevent Christians should do some kind of yishub in Erretz Israel.

  • WHY ARE MISSIONARIES PERMITTED TO MOVE TO ISRAEL?

    • Because they are white people(no pun), and FIN.

      • Maria,

        Did you know that most Christians in the world are not white? That Christianity existed in Africa, the Middle East and Asia centuries before it came to Europe?

    • You are making the false assumption that they will push Christianity on others. Also the Church began in Jerusalem in about 33 c.e. see Acts 2. Christianity for the first 2 centuries was considered a sect of Judaism. In fact, no where in the New Testament is there mention of Jesus or any of the Apostles saying “Let’s start a new religion and let’s call it Christianity!”. The first time Christians were called Christians was in Antioch. “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” Acts 11:26. Please note, it does not say that THEY called themselves Christians, it says they were called Christians.

      The reason why there was so much anti-Semitism in the Church is because the Church forgot its roots.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.