Tuesday, February 21

Called to Controversy by Ruth Rosen

Upon receiving Called to Controversy I had no idea what to expect.  I requested it from Booksneeze because the title sounded interesting, a reason that has not always worked out so well in the past.  Ruth Rosen tells the story of her father, Moishe, the man who founded Jews for Jesus.

To my delight, I found Called to Controversy to be an enjoyable and engaging read.  Though I had never heard of Moishe Rosen before, Ruth writes in such a way that I could imagine what it would be like to actually meet Moishe.  The book starts with his childhood, where he grew up in a Jewish home.  He held to his Jewish identity until after his marriage to Ceil, when both were introduced to and converted to Christianity.  To their families this was the ultimate act of betrayal, and for a while they were shunned by their family.

However, this didn’t stop Moishe, as he began growing in his Christian faith and feeling led to preach.  He took Bible classes and often did street preaching.  He learned how to deal with hecklers, as well as how to grab people’s attention.  He was certainly not the clichéd ‘fire and brimstone’ street preachers that many think of today.  After moving to California he began to help Christians learn how reach out to Jews.  Evangelizing to Jews was particularly hard, since conversion from to another religion usually ended up with being disowned by one’s family.

There were many moments of humor.   When Moishe first took part in communion, he had been told it was the Christian equivalent of Passover.   However, Passover is a large supper in Jewish communities, so Moishe made sure he came to communion with a large appetite, only to be surprised by a piece of matzo and a small cup of juice.  He left thinking, “They invite you to a Passover feast, they give you a crumb of matzo and a thimble of grape juice, and then they have the nerve to make jokes about Jews being stingy.”

However, there were also moments of tension.  During Jews for Jesus rallies hecklers were often present, harassing those demonstrating or ministering, sometimes resulting in physical threats and intimidation.

Ruth writes lovingly of her father, though she also doesn’t attempt to paint him as a perfect man.  She tries to illuminate her father’s weaknesses as well, but sometimes her closeness to him makes the inclusion of his flaws an afterthought.  There were also some stories which ran a little long and held extra details which were not needed.

Still, I found Called to Controversy to be an engaging biography.  Moishe was an interesting person to learn about, and I also enjoyed reading about the Jewish community he grew up in and the insights he was able to provide.

4/5 stars

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze 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


  1. I just read that book and I liked it!

  2. I'm glad you liked it! Not knowing what to expect, it was quite a relief for me to become engaged with the story.