Moving to Israel as a Christian Zionist

February 1, 2013 1:49 am 9 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.

9 Comments

  • HEJ SYSTER MIN SVENSKA ÄR INTE BÄST.JAG HAR JOBBAR.SOM PASTOR I LIBANON,I FYRA ÅR,OCH I HELA MIN LIV SÅ HAR JAG UNDRART VARFÖR KRISTNA INTE INVANDRAR TILL DET HELIGA LANDET,JAG ÄR OK MIN FRU ÄR TRONDE KRISTNA.PINSTVÄNNER.OK JAG VILL FLYTTA MED MIN FRU OK TRE GRABBAR TILL ISRAEL,JAG ÄR UNDERSKÖTARE OK BITTE SOCIAL-TANT HAAAAAAAAA,KAN DU HJÄLPA MEJ MED NÅGRA FRÅGOR HUR MAN GÖR,OK VILKEN STAD ÄR BÄST.JAG SJÄLV VILL BO I ÖSTRADELEN AV LANDET,FRID,HÄLSA TILL DIN MAN JAMES.OK JAG ÄR SCOTTE

  • 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...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the morale of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.