Jewish People Telling Their Stories
Testimony of Aaron Zaretsky
My name is Aaron Zaretsky. I grew up in a Jewish family in Toronto. We lived with my grandparents (Bubie and Zaidy) for the first years of my life. My Bubie kept a kosher home. We had separate dishes and we ate kosher food. We went to an Orthodox synagogue where the men sat separate from the women. My grandmother said without God we could do nothing.
On the eighth day I was circumcised and the rabbi gave me the Hebrew name of Elijah. My mother and father named me Aaron.
Growing up in a Jewish home we always celebrated the Jewish Holidays. My parents blessed me at every opportunity they had.
I had a hard time speaking because I was born with dyslexia, nonetheless, I could sing. My parents loved me the way I was, but I had a lot of challenges because I was dyslexic. It was difficult for me to read and to attend Hebrew school. Public school was difficult for me and I experienced many challenges. I was placed in special-education with kids who had emotional problems because educators then didn’t know how to deal with people with disabilities. But all the time I felt God’s presence in my life.
When I was very young, because I couldn’t communicate very well, I had an imaginary friend. I called him Teacher. My imagination took me to places with Teacher who helped me to learn how to handle life. I had a hard time communicating with people and my imaginary friend helped me. My younger brother would also play with my imaginary friend, we called the game baby and the teacher. We pretended that we travelled to different places, bringing food to the needy and sneaking in to feed the people. It seemed to be so real. I can remember some of the details like having to fly to Africa under the radar so that their government wouldn’t catch us. This was very vivid.
When I was 12 years old, life began to change for the worse. I began attending Junior High School. And this is where I lost my imaginary friend. My younger brother was always picking on me and used to beat me up. He was very violent and was constantly fighting with me. He always liked to lie about everything, and he even stole stuff from me. And this is the time when I started to pray to God. I believed that if I prayed every day, God would protect me.
At school I was still being picked on. And at Junior High girls kept following me around the school to tease me and the boys would push me to the girls. I was going to a regular class and also getting help from a special education teacher.
I was not able to be bar mitzvah because of my dyslexia.
On top of all this, my father was having a nervous breakdown because of trouble with his job. As a result, my mother and father were having problems with their marriage. And on top of that because people wanted to beat me up and I was beaten up by my brother I had to be on valium for a bit and I was getting help at Sick Kids Hospital. All this time I prayed to God to help me.
Then I went to High School and things started to change for the better, even though I didn’t know it at that time. I had a special education teacher who was Scottish. He was a born-again believer and loved the Jewish people. I never met anybody like him, most Christians that I met called me a Jesus killer. It was very confusing to me. And then when I was 16 my parents split up. And I lived with my dad and my younger brother.
Life was getting more confusing, my teacher kept telling me about Jesus and so I tried to prove to him that he was nothing more than an anti-sematic. How could he be gentile and love the Jewish people? Somehow he seemed to love me more than any other person I had in my life. He even met my grandmother and she thought he was a Jewish man. I told her he was Scottish. She liked him anyway because he believed in God. This teacher started to help turn my life around. I had left school and he got me back to school, and he helped me move into my mom’s place out of the chaos of living with my father. And he continued to witness to me.
He first took me to his church that met together in a school. Then he introduced me to Ed Brosky who led a messianic congregation in the school library. The congregation went on to become Melech Yisrael. I asked God to show me signs that Yeshua is the Messiah.
One day something started to happen in my heart. I felt that it was time to accept the Messiah. God started to show me things. I felt that if I didn’t accept the Messiah into my life then I would miss out. I felt God asking me to trust Him, that he would change my life and that he would heal me of my disability. Right then and there I made the decision, so in the parking lot of the library I professed that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. I felt a great burden came off me. And my life was about to change forever.
The first thing that happened was with my best friend John, who told me that we could earn $1000 for the summer by joining the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve. We went to apply, while I was taken for a physical examination John thought I had left, so he left the place. So he ended up not applying but John took a summer job at Dickie D ice-cream riding on a bike and selling ice-cream, and he made $2000.00 that summer.
I ended up in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve, which meant that I had a problem because of my handicap. But now I know that God used the CAF to change and to heal me. The things I went through while I was there were hard for me, I remember going right when they asked me to go left, I remember all the push-ups I had to do, I remember failing my basic course. For some reason, they couldn’t get me out of the army.
Eventually I was trained as a cook in the army and God healed my physical handicap. I got out five years later.
I had asked the recruiting officer how I got into the army and he told me that it was a mistake and they mixed up my paperwork so they couldn’t get me out. I told him it wasn’t a mistake, that it was God who got me in and helped me, there was no way I could have gotten into the army other than God. And I got to witness to my sergeant.
I was going to high school and I was going to the army one day a week and on week-ends and during the summer months.
After High School, I went to Humber College but there was no help for me there. They sent me to the Ontario Vocational Rehab which is now called ODSP. They trained me to help me get a job and I ended up in Goodwill Industries. I wanted to start as a cook but they gave me a job in Goods and Inventory control, so they trained me there and they sent me off to Women’s College Hospital to work at a work study. At that time, I had moved out of my mom’s house to live with five other guys from my Congregation. My mom at the time was not happy that I believed in Yeshua and tried to talk me out of it by introducing me to an Orthodox Jewish man to talk to me. At the time I was very active in the Jewish community, helping out at the Jewish Community Center. And I was also producing some TV shows including my clown show. I started to do clowning in the mid-70s.
God was starting to heal my emotions. I heard in my heart that if I would trust God and Yeshua, he would heal me and make me normal and so at that point I trusted in Him. And God started to move things for me. I got a full time job at Women’s College Hospital making good money and benefits. I was able to go to Bible College and study under Ed Bronsky. I was doing children’s ministry at the congregation I attended and I was attending Messiah conferences which helped me to grow spiritually. Looking back now, I realize that God was really working on my family. My father became a believer in 1987.
At first, my mother thought I was in a cult, but at 21 I wanted to go back to my Jewish culture. Since I did not have a Bar Mitzvah, I started to learn Hebrew and took bar mitzvah lessons. When I told my mom that I was having a Bar Mitzvah, she wanted to make a big party and invite all her friends and family. Then she realized that I was more Jewish than she was and that I wasn’t in a cult. She said she was too old to change. But Andrea, who is now my wife, was instrumental in helping my mom to become a believer.
Today I am a children’s pastor at a Messianic congregation as well as having a ministry called Touching Hearts Ministries. It is a member of Artists in Christian Testimony Canada, which ministers to children in vulnerable areas of the city.
I also minister in churches as a clown, and I am a pastor that ministers at a Tamil church once a month. I believe God called me at a young age and even though I didn’t know him then, He knew me, He gave his only begotten Son to die for me and forgive me for all the bad things I’ve done. He redid my life, he made me perfectly and wonderfully made so that I can do what I do for such a time as this. My life would not have been worth anything if Yeshua did not come into my life.
He changed me from what could have been a disaster to being a blessing. I know He talks to everyone but not everyone hears him. If you listen to your heart you will know he’s been with you all the time and what he can do for you, you can only imagine. I imagined and it became real.
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew18:3,4
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11