Pastor Eric Teitelman, of Haymarket, recently recalled the first time he saw a copy of the New Testament.
As an American boy living in Israel, he and a childhood friend found a printed text in the road. His friend picked it up, and Teitelman was curious but didn’t read it.
Raised Jewish, he had met Christian tourists but had never heard of the New Testament of the Bible. It would be years before he picked one up again and, after much struggle and uncertainty, converted to Christianity.
Now a self-described Christian Jew, he teaches the Bible’s Old and New Testaments through his organization, The House of David Ministries.
As a pastor, he talks about the likenesses between Judaism and Christianity and the prophecies of the second coming of Jesus — “how the church is part of this great mystery” and “what God is calling the church to do.”
At 7 p.m. Tuesday, he’ll lead a discussion at Macedonia United Methodist Church, 1941 Macedonia Church Road, White Post, on the significance of God’s holy assemblies, biblical festivals like Passover, and their fulfillment in the first and second advents of Jesus — the time he spent on Earth and the anticipation for when he will return.
Teitelman said his Christian education began in the mid-1990s when he and his wife started attending a church in New Hampshire. They couldn’t find a synagogue they liked, he recalled, and instead chose a church where they could offer their two children a religious upbringing.
But Teitelman said his interest in the Bible took a while to grow into faith.
“My brain just wasn’t wired to do that,” he said.
Though the Christian Bible includes Jewish texts in the Old Testament, the New Testament is about the teachings of Jesus and his apostles.
“I really wanted to understand Christianity,” said Teitelman, who was frustrated when he couldn’t feel a connection to the church.
He said he listened to sermons for about six to eight years before the messages impacted him and he started reading the New Testament.
“It challenged me and I was drawn to the person of Jesus,” he said. “It just all made sense” and “connected all the dots.”
“My life was just completely changed,” he said.
Now basing his ministry on a combination of Judaic and Christian teachings, Teitelman said he encourages people to broaden their understanding of faith.
Macedonia UMC parishioner Phyllis Johnson said that was also one of her goals in inviting Teitelman to speak at the church.
As Teitelman had trouble understanding Christianity, she said many Christians struggle with the teachings of Judaism.
“How come it’s hard for us to understand?” she said she had been wondering.
Tuesday’s program follows a 1 ½-year Bible study that Johnson and about 20 other members started in January 2018.
Ending the study a few months ago, the group read the book “Sitting at the Feet of the Rabbi Jesus,” by Lois Tverberg and Ann Spangler, as a way of learning more about Judaism, especially as it was taught during the time Jesus lived.
“This book was about the Jewishness of Jesus and how it would transform us,” she said. “In studying that book, we really felt we were transformed in several ways.”
Mostly, she said she was inspired by how Judaism has maintained its teachings over thousands of years.
“We felt that we weren’t reverent enough in a way as American Christians,” she said.
“It became a heart study. It became an understanding of our family that includes the Jewish population,” she explained. “We adopted many of the Jewish concepts of continuous prayer and putting God into everything.
Johnson learned of Teitelman through parishioner Mark Gunderman, who helped organize the program.
Hoping to start the Bible study over again in January, Johnson said studying the Bible is a constant journey.
“We’re just walking our way through scripture, and we don’t stop until we’re finished,” she said. “And we’re not finished.”
For more information on the program “Understanding the Lord’s Holy Assemblies — Biblical Festivals,” call the church at 540-869-4874 or visit Teitelman’s website at thehouseofdavid.org. Bible study is held at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and will pick up again in January. For more information, call the church or Phyllis Johnson at 936-348-0750.