Thursday, October 30, 2008

How spending a year with Jesus made me a better Jew

The following post is by guest blogger Benyamin Cohen, author of the new book, “My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith”. We asked Benyamin to give The Chosen Blog readers a little taste of what we can expect from his book. Here's what he had to say...

I’m a rabbi’s son. Not just any rabbi’s son, but the rabbi’s son. Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. I took everything you taught me, flushed it down the toilet, and married a minister’s daughter. Wait, it gets better.

I’ve spent the past year going to a different church every Sunday. As if that wasn’t heresy enough, I threw in some monks, a Christian rock concert, missionizing with Mormons and, oh yeah, celebrating Christmas with my new in-laws. One year ago this month, on the day before Yom Kippur, I took my wife’s evangelical grandmother to a Christian archaeology exhibit. Repentance, atonement, the furthest things from my mind.

But a funny thing happened on my way to exploring Christianity. It made me a better Jew.

I obviously don't want to give away the whole story. And, of course, you can buy the book (subliminal message) right here at

But to whet your appetite, I've compiled the following list: Five places you wouldn’t expect a rabbi’s son to go:

1. To a Christian wrestling match: To be fair, this was Ultimate Christian Wrestling where “good” wrestlers did battle against “evil” wrestlers. Fallen wrestlers, I kid you not, are actually resurrected at these matches. And you thought Rowdy Roddy Piper was weird.

2. In the mosh pit at a Christian rock concert: I’m not a concert kind of a guy. I don’t enjoy loud music, smoky joints, or – to be perfectly honest – any activity involving long periods of standing. But jamming with Jesus proved to be a pretty inspirational experience. Even if it did convince me to change all my car radio buttons to Christian rock stations. It gives Judas Priest a whole new meaning.

3. On Jesus’ JumboTron: While attending a Baptist megachurch in suburban Georgia, the camera operators thought it was a good idea to focus in on the one Jew in the house among the 15,000 dancing faithful – thereby ensuring my fate as the proverbial Wicked Son in the eyes of my rabbinic father.

4. At a monastery hanging out with 48 monks: Trying to clear my head from this holy headache spending 12-months church-hopping from denomination to denomination, I figured I should relax on 2,000 serene acres with a fraternity of men who have devoted themselves to peace, God, and loving kindness. If only I could pull myself away from my BlackBerry.

5. In a Confession booth: After a year of going to churches every Sunday, I did what any good Jewish boy would do – go to Confession. Riddled with guilt and curiosity, I told a Catholic priest my deepest, darkest secrets. Well, except for the small part about me being Jewish. I guess I’ll have to go back and confess for that sin another time. Maybe that’s the sequel...

For those of you who buy the book at, I would love to get some feedback and hear your thoughts. So please feel free to add your opinion to the comments section of this post!

Benyamin Cohen is the author of the new book “My Jesus Year” (HarperCollins, 2008). It was released the day before Yom Kippur. You can visit Benyamin's personal website at and buy the book at

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