Something There Is That Doesn’t Love A Wall

The Liberated Wailing Wall: translated—a group of talented young Jewish believers in Christ telling of God’s freedom through song and dance.

Sponsored by Hineni Ministries, Moishe Rosen’s new organization working with Jews, the Liberated Wailing Wall just finished touring the East Coast. The six-member folk-rock group visited Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland, and Boston, Massachusetts, averaging 300 people per concert. About 400, half of them Jewish, attended the Baltimore concert, which benefited the Israeli Emergency Relief Fund to the tune of over $200.

At the last minute a concert at Brooklyn College, New York, was canceled by the sponsoring Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship because of threats from a vocal Jewish minority. Members of the Wall expressed regret over the cancellation: they often are subjected to threats, they said, and view them as an occupational hazard.

Although the Wall performed in Baltimore for a good Jewish cause, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) found the message of song and dance less than Jewish. Rhythms and melodies feel and sound Jewish, but lyrics like the following were disturbing to some of the Jewish hearers:

As God spoke to our fathers, He’s speaking to their children; He spoke then through the prophets, now He’s speaking through his Son. In Torah and Navi’im, the eye of faith can see Him; if you accept Yeshua, new life will have begun.

Throughout the tour the group was picketed, cursed, and screamed at. In Baltimore several members of the JDL tried to prevent people from entering Northwestern High School to attend the concert. A few Hasidic Jews talked and glared throughout the performance. One of them was invited to help count the money, but the Jews wanted nothing to do with it.

After a prayer for the offering—the traditional Aaronic benediction—a member of the JDL threw eggs and knocked over a speaker, which brought a security guard and later five Baltimore City police cars to cart the teenager off to the police station. (The audience asked the guard not to hurt the boy.) Another “Jew for Judaism” tried to pass out anti-Christian pamphlets, but the security guard stopped him. Some damage was done to the Liberated Wailing Wall’s bus. Beth Sar Shalom, a mission fellowship related to the American Board of Missions to the Jews, sponsored the concert, rented the auditorium, and paid for the security police and work crew.

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The minor disturbances did not diminish the enthusiasm of either performers or audience. The concert followed the basic format of the team’s first recording. Lyrics were taken from Psalms and Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah. Stuart Dauermann, who has a degree from Manhattan School of Music, writes most of the Wall’s songs, plays the piano for the group, and is the only member involved full time in music. All the members are in their twenties.

Miriam Nadler spearheads the Wall’s operation. She is a Gentile—the other five members are Jewish—who studied Jewish music for two years in New York and spent over a year in school in Jerusalem. Her husband, Sam, a former dope dealer, handles the group’s evangelistic endeavors, and decides what rallies or concerts to give and where and when the group sings on campuses and street corners. Naomi Green works as a secretary for Hineni Ministries when she is not performing with the group. The other male member of the group, Barry Ellegant, who chants the benediction in Hebrew at the end of the concert, once taught chemistry in a Chicago high school. Steffi Geiser, the group’s sparkplug and initial organizer, serves as art director for Jews for Jesus. She brings life to the Wall’s performances and exhibits much professional showmanship.

According to Moishe Rosen, head of Hineni Ministries, members of the Wall work hard at their music and are committed to it as a means to an end—communication of the Gospel. The group now spends about seven months of the year traveling and singing to Jews about Jesus. Hineni Ministries also is putting together a drama group similar to the Liberated Wailing Wall.

The approach to the Gospel is hardly hard-sell evangelism. The group gives no altar calls but invites those with questions to speak with a group member after the concert. The Wall sings God’s prophecies for a Messiah and states, softly yet strongly, that the Messiah is Jesus.

The Wall not only presents the Gospel in a quiet, entertaining fashion but also explains the problems of being a Jew for Jesus. “Tradition,” one of the group’s best numbers (it is not on the record, unfortunately), describes what happens when a Jew accepts Jesus. Many of the scriptural songs are sung in both Hebrew and English. Even Jews who object to the message admit that the group is authentically Jewish, something the six members strive for. They use amplified folk guitars, tambourine, recorders, piano, finger bells, and a dunbeck, a Jewish drum, as well as close vocal harmonizations.

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During the Wall’s latest tour several Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah, said Sam Nadler. Some Gentiles did, as well. Other Jews who heard about Jesus for the first time came back a second time to find out more about him. Although Dan Rigney, Beth Sar Shalom’s minister, knew of no one who accepted Jesus after the Baltimore concert, the team talked to many interested people and answered questions.

The final song of the program, “Hineni,” explains the call of the Wall: “Hineni means I’m ready, Lord. Hineni means I’ll go.” The group sings the message that Jesus and Jewishness are not mutually exclusive and in doing so provides Gentile Christians with much to think about. The song “Jesus’ Holy Name” sums up the message:

I saw Him mourn when Jewish blood was spilled in Jesus’ Holy Name. I knew Jesus before He was a Gentile.… But when the Gentile branches all grew numerous and full, I wondered, would my people understand? I saw Him mourn when synagogues were burned in Jesus’ Holy Name. And I read in magazines and books in stores and stands today how many of my people understand. And ears have heard the word of God and eyes can finally see that Jewishness and Christ go hand in hand.

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