by Gladys Neigel
The Shabbat (Sabbath) is drawing to a close on a balmy evening in December as visitors and members gather beneath a giant menorah set on the grounds of the Beth-El Shalom congregation in New Port Richey, Florida.
State Senator Mike Fasano of the 11th District accepted the congregation’s invitation to light the 10-foot-high menorah. It is a joyous time with music, food, and a message about the real miracle of Chanukah and the importance of the freedom of worship that we have today. For a congregation of 18 members, an attendance of slightly less than 100 at this Chanukah celebration is an achievement.
Outreach for the members of the New Port Richey congregation, as well as its sister congregation in St. Petersburg, often use the traditions of the Jewish faith to encourage visitors to attend their fellowship. Celebrations for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (feast of booths) have also drawn many visitors. Friendship fellowship has also included a group meal at a restaurant where new attendees and visitors bond with members.
Utilizing traditional methods of outreach, the congregations have held many courses and seminars such as a monthly Eat Smart Cooking Seminar, a Stop Smoking Forever course, and various Bible meetings. A beginning Hebrew class was held, and two gentlemen who attend services recently conducted a six-week self defense course.
For decades, it has been difficult for Jewish people to leave their traditions behind and accept the Messiah. Jeff Zaremsky, the congregation’s leader, has combined Jewish traditions with the Messianic message and, over the past four years, has welcomed 17 people to this Messianic ministry of Florida Conference.
Editorial Note: Jeff Zaremsky recently authored a book entitled Jewish Discoveries. TEACH Services, Inc., publisher, announced that the book portrays how “Scripture intertwines with Jewish traditions to form a rich heritage of faith and spiritual truths.” It is available from the Florida Adventist Book Center and other retail bookstores.