Ruth Rosen is a graduate of Biola University with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies. She has been writing and editing full time with Jews for Jesus since 1985 and speaks regularly on behalf of the ministry.
Born into a nominal Jewish family, Moishe Rosen had a strong Jewish identity but went to synagogue only occasionally. As a young man, his friendship and conversations with a Christian couple impressed him, but he had no interest in "becoming religious". His wife secretly bought a Bible and began studying it. When she became a believer in Jesus, Moishe tried at first to find proof that would change her mind but finding none, was himself eventually convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. Although his family disowned him, he was obsessed with spreading the gospel--especially to the Jewish people. He went to Bible college and later founded Jews For Jesus, an international organization focused on preaching Christ to Jews.
This biography, written by Moishe's younger daughter, covers both personal and professional areas of his life and doesn't avoid discussing the faults of this obviously strong personality. I was impressed with Moishe's practice of identifying the best methods of evangelizing and his care in staying within the bounds of the law. Although I don't agree with everything he believed, I came away from the book convinced that Moishe Rosen was a good man and that his heart was certainly in the right place.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Called to Controversy: The Unlikely story of Moishe Rosen and the founding of Jews for Jesus Thomas Nelson: 2012, 307pp
"'Christ-lover"' was the worst insult Moishe''s uncle could use to discredit him. To believe in Jesus as the Messiah was to be a traitor to one''s Jewishness. But once Moishe believed he never turned back. When he prayed for God to send a modern-day Paul to bring the Gospel to contemporary Jews, God''s answer was to call Moishe to full-time ministry. His daughter here details the circumstances surrounding his upbringing in a loyal but cynical Jewish home, his conversion to Christianity, his marriage and schooling and then the years of ministry with ABMJ (American Board of Missions to the Jews) which both prepared and propelled him to found '"Jews for Jesus'" in the early 70's. His innovative strategies revolutionized Jewish evangelism and what started as a radical independent group of free-thinkers geared to reaching the Jewish hippie subculture of the 60's and 70's has grown to become a well-respected international organization committed to introducing Jews to Jesus.
Moishe was an opinionated visionary with a passion that inevitably polarized not only his target audience, but those who ministered with him. Delicately his daughter writes from multiple points of view to give a balanced perspective of Moishe''s strengths and weaknesses. While his life story compels the reader to acknowledge that God uses flawed people, it also inspires and challenges. There is clearly also an agenda here to make peace with those who were rubbed the wrong way by Moishe''s personality and leadership style.Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Stirring, Encouraging and Candid and Conflicted AccountFeb. 13 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Called to Controversy is a stirring, encouraging and often candid account of the life of Moishe Rosen and the founding of Jews for Jesus. The book moves from Moishe's upbringing through his journey to faith and onward to his journey of faithful and zealous service. The biography, though written by his daughter and vetted by Moishe himself before his death, presents an incredibly human being, albeit a man of both extreme strengths and extreme weaknesses. In addition to being a biography of a Jewish believer in Jesus, a missionary and a visionary, it is the biography of a movement and an organization. The life of Moishe Rosen and the birth and growth of Jews for Jesus are often inextricable. Like Rosen himself, his organization is both lauded and hated, complimented and controversial. The biography does not shy away from the reality of weaknesses, failures and issues within Moishe Rosen's life and within the organization of Jews for Jesus though it is almost certain that it does not detail them enough to satisfy the organization's critics. Instead, the biography focuses on who Moishe was, attempting to communicate and enable a discovery of the character and calling of the man himself by traveling through his history in narrative, interviews, anecdotes and frank analysis.
Ruth Rosen displays talented, balanced and empathetic writing, allowing Moishe to come off the page and speak in his own words. She allows Moishe to inspire the reader, but not at the expense of keeping his humanity front and center. Moishe Rosen was a complex man with a simple mission. Called to Controversy achieves its highest success in consistently and successfully portraying the frail humanity of Moishe Rosen with a sympathetic and respectful context and tone. Rosen was a man who inspired an entire generation of evangelists and revolutionized missions and evangelism to the Jewish people. His real zeal and passion speak for themselves. His successes are preserved in the pages of this book; however, his mistakes and shortcomings are preserved here too. We don't always seem them specified or distinctly portrayed, but they are unmistakably there. Moishe Rosen was a man who was mightily used of God in spite of his humanity and weaknesses and this biography challenges and inspires in the face of our real humanity.
In addition to the story of the man, the book uncovers a journey into discovering evangelism, missions, vision and the establishment of a work for God. It works to inform the reader of the Jewish heart and mind, while also passing on the lessons Moishe learned and passed on to others regarding how to reach the lost and be faithful in leading an organization. These lessons are well articulated, but subtly spun into the retelling of the man's life. The lessons are impacted and qualified by the controversies that surrounded Moishe's life and ministry.
In dealing with the controversies, pain and anger surrounding Jews for Jesus and Moishe Rosen, the author maintains an quiet honesty. There is a consistent subtle tension between the lines of the text: an almost apologetic tone, which seems to acknowledge, albeit not quite directly, that there were times when Moishe Rosen's leadership was toxic. There are hints and sometimes outright admissions that Rosen hurt and perhaps damaged a number of those who ministered with him. The presentation of the man presents a conflict as the reader is inspired, awed and blessed by this very human example of strong faith and indefatigable zeal, but also pained and disheartened by the indication of difficult conflicts and mistakes in ministry. It is faith in Christ that answers and resolves this humanity and Called to Controversy is very much a challenge to believe, recognize and admire what Christ can and will do in even the most flawed vessels.
I would recommend this book to those in missions, leadership or in the process of founding a work for God. It is an inspiration, a warning and a call to compassion. It is an exhortation to believe and serve a great and merciful God in the name of Jesus Christ.
My thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review, but an honest review.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Enlightening and InspiringFeb. 13 2012
Alexis K. Wisniewski
- Published on Amazon.com
Subtitle: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus
I didn't know much about Jews for Jesus, or Moishe Rosen, before I read this book, but the synopsis was intriguing and I like biographies. It was great to "meet" Moishe for the first time through his daughter, and, later, employee.
Called to Controversy opens by following Moishe's Jewish family as they emigrated to the U.S., and settled in a Jewish community in Colorado. Both of his parents' families came from Europe, in time to avoid a certain Adolph Hitler's rise to power in Germany.
The stories of Moishe's childhood - collected from Moishe himself before his passing, as well as his wife and close friends - are enlightening insights not only into what shaped this amazing man, but into the American Jewish community itself.
The depth of the culturization [I just made that word up] of Judaism is stunning. The blind resistance to Jesus as Messiah is heart-breaking. Thousands of years ago, the Jewish people were lost because of their refusal of Jesus as the Christ. Now, at least in the U.S. the Jewish community is lost because of their ignorance of Jesus as the Christ.
The stories of Moishe's wife, and then Moishe, coming to faith in Jesus are beautiful passages. Their communities, and families, disowned them, although he believed it was difficult for them to do.
Through interviews, research and first-hand experience, Ruth Rosen traces Moishe's call to bring the gospel to his people, and she - at Moishe's request - is blunt and honest. Moishe's mistakes and faults are reported unapologetically, and surprisingly so from someone who is not only a daughter, but an avid supporter and fan. If any author has ever removed her own prejudices and emotions from a story, Ruth Rosen has done so.
From Moishe's call to the mission field, to his sponsorship at a Christian university, to his failed attempts at street-preaching, to the building of an international ministry and his inability to really let go of it when he retired - Moishe Rosen was an inadequate man, in the hands of a Master. Moishe was honest about his mistakes and his shortcomings, but he always went back to God, and God used his faith to do amazing things.
Moishe's story, told in such a raw narrative, is inspiring in so many ways. He will inspire you to do the work of an evangelist - especially among the Jewish people.
He will inspire you to look to God, instead of your own weakness, and he will inspire you to be obedient in one step at a time so God might build something world-changing through you. A lot of leadership biographies claim to do these things, but Moishe's actually does. I don't think he would be offended at my saying he really was the most normal, faulty person that I've ever read of God using for huge things.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Inspiring Story- Rocked My Mindset!March 9 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Let me began by saying that I never read a book twice. Knowing the ending of a book completely ruins the story for me. But I am more than willing to read a well-written paragraph over and over and over again. The book Called to Controversy was so interesting that I'd read entire CHAPTERS of it again. I began reading the biography out of pure curiosity. I've always been interested in the controversy between Christianity and Judaism, but never understood how complex it is. My curiosity turned into fascination as I discovered the story of Moishe Rosen - a man whose mindset and beliefs seem to mirror my own despite the fact that we have completely different backgrounds. Moishe Rosen was a husband, dad, and founder of Jews for Jesus. He had a Jewish heritage, but not a Jewish faith. His first Christian church experience freaked him out. It was so different from the typical synagogue setting that he was used to. The terminology used during the service baffled him. Moishe had never used words like "benediction" and later made it his goal to get rid of any typical Christian jargon from his speech. He wanted to simplify everything he said so that anyone, regardless of religious background, could understand his message. I LOVE that concept. I get so fed up with trying to "sound Christian-y" when I'm in church that I lose focus on God and what's truly important. Called to Controversy made me rethink EVERYTHING about the way I approach God and others. Through a few personal stories, Ruth explained how a goal of simplicity affected Moishe's ministry. For instance, one day Moishe was sharing about how the Holy Spirit had "touched" him. Someone asked him, "where?" thinking he was referring to a physical touch rather than a spiritual conviction. Moishe immediately felt bad because he had broken his promise to speak with simplicity and focused on restructuring his methods. Moishe constantly struggled to merge his Jewish identity with his Christian faith. Moishe got ridiculed for his faith in Jesus. Most of his family denied him and thought he was insane. His father made him visit a psychiatrist because he couldn't accept the idea that a Jew could believe in Jesus. One protestor literally stabbed Moishe as he was leading a march. Despite the opposition, Moishe didn't give up. He relentlessly shared the Gospel with everyone around him. Called to Controversy represented Moishe as a non-conformist. He did not care about the way others viewed him and appreciated if people complained about him to his face. Moishe was confident, outspoken, and sometimes considered offensive. He wanted to help others and share about the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. Moishe was crazy about God. His intensity was often misjudged by critics. People often advised him to "chill" and sand away his uniqueness until his was a normal-calm-preacher-man. Moishe refused to compromise and fit into a mold. Thus, he stood out. Sometimes, this was a bad thing. Ruth was honest and spoke about some of his flaws. I really appreciated that. It gave me a different perspective of the man and humbled my opinions of him. Ruth wrote that Moishe could be overbearing and controlling. At the same time, he was quick to encourage others. He had a way of recognizing talent and showing people how they could most effectively use it. Pros: The setup of the book flowed nicely. The design was clean and simple. Each chapter began with a quote from Moishe which reflected a bit of his personality. Ruth Rosen writes candidly about her dad. She probably knew him better than anyone. I loved the personal stories she shared from her dad's past. They made me giggle, want to jump up and scream, "Yes! Yes! The church should do THAT!", and want to give Moishe a high-five in heaven. Cons: Towards the last fourth of the book, I lost interest. The format became more informative about the ministry Jews for Jesus rather than Moishe. Ruth's writing style changed and became less personal. While I'd enjoy learning more about his ministry another time, I was more interested in Moishe as a person. The last few chapters were boring. But...the awesomeness of the rest of the book totally outweighs the ending. Overall, I loved the book. I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. Check it out! *This book was given to me to review by [...] All opinions are my own.*
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Moments with MoisheFeb. 16 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Imagine you have just made a discovery, and that discovery leads to a decision, and that decision changes everything in your life--how you view the world, your relationship with your family and friends, your employment, even where you live. This is what happened to Moishe Rosen.
This is the story (biography) of the life of Moishe Rosen written by his daughter, Ruth. This is a fascinating history starting with the beginning of his life being raised in a nominally practicing Jewish family, to the meeting and marrying of his wife, and his conversion to belief in Jesus as his Messiah.
A good background is given about Moishe's life for the reader to understand the sacrifices Moishe made in his personal and family life, as well as, in his employment when he announces his beliefs publicly. I am sure that many will be surprised that often Jewish people who accept Jesus are ostracized from their families and communities for the rest of their lives. This book explains how Moishe and his wife, Ceil, face those situations, and the very real and deep sacrifices they made for their faith.
The book also covers the change in course Moishe's employment took because of his new faith, and how that affected both Moishe's and Ceil's lives. There are some funny accounts of Moishe and Ceil suddenly being surrounded by Christians and Christian terminology and how confusing that can be to someone who has never heard those terms. There are also accounts of a very Jewish couple going to a Bible college.
This story journeys through the beginning of Moishe's first years attempting to witness to other Jewish people about Jesus, including street preaching and the violence and hecklers they encountered. It also talks about the fist mission that Moishe was associated with, and the blessings and difficulties that went with it.
The story then carries us through the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, including protest marches for Jesus. It also tells how that time period affected Moishe's ministry and how "Jews for Jesus" grew out of that time.
The book ends with the last years of Moishe's life and the way Moishe "retired" from Jews for Jesus, including how very difficult it was to walk away from something he had birthed and, as well as, something that he and his family's life revolved around.
Moishe was a very interesting man. His daughter painted a complete picture of him, "warts and all", but it is very obvious she did it with love.
This is a great story of a man and his wife whose decision about Jesus radically changed the course of their lives and thousands of other people's lives as well. Moishe was a larger than life man with a larger than life story.
I enjoyed this story and was inspired that Moishe kept his faith throughout all the ups and downs he faced in his life. Read this and be intrigued.
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating ReadFeb. 15 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
The daughter of Moishe Rosen is the author of this story of her father and his journey that begins from childhood as a person raised up in a Jewish culture filled with rules and regulations but no real understanding of the "why's" of these traditions. The author says right at the beginning that of course she has a bias with this being a story of her father but that she would give as fair a presentation as possible. As you read, you watch the progression of his life where he develops cynicism towards religion; and then that pivotal moment where he comes face to face with the presentation of the truth of Jewish Jesus. Then all of the challenges that come with that radical choice. Of course as the title suggests we get to read about the birth of this new ministry," Jews for Jesus". Personal pictures included in the book were an added plus.
I enjoyed this book SO much. Not only was it well written but the style just kept the reader interested. The author did give what I believe was a very fair picture of her father and his relationship with others. I don't always read a biographical book but I am glad this is one that was on the list to choose. Who would I recommend this book too? Anyone, everyone who enjoys reading about people overcoming difficulties. I do believe we can learn much from reading people's autobiographies or biographies from those very close to them. Learning from those who have gone before us. We CAN learn from their failures as well as their successes.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255