Sunday, February 1, 2009

Meet the YouTubers

Meet the YouTubers!

Hi there everybody!

Finally I have some time to sit and do a little on this page.

This page is entitled "Meet the YouTubers" and here I intend to post news, updates, and let you know a little about the wonderful people who have uploaded the tutorials you can find on this blog and, of course, on YouTube.




Video lessons: HEBREW

WEBSITE: Bnai Pueblo

My first featured YouTuber is Gershon. He has prepared and uploaded a wonderful and instructive series teaching us to read the Hebrew alphabet.

Here is the moving Email I received from him:


Normally, we don't talk about being converts, but perhaps my story can help others. Feel free to use it.

I was raised as a catholic, attending catholic schools through high school. I pretty much retired after high school although there were periods I attended church and I did like to read the bible. But the connection with the Divine never seemed to be what it should. I tried other churches, but nothing seemed to work there either.

Then in January 2003, I felt an urge to go back to church. I drove around town until I dropped into a small spiritual church that emphasized a direct connection with G-d. I wouldn't call it christian. I'm not sure what it was.

At the same time, I felt a very strong desire to learn Hebrew. I googled it, found the alphabet and got started. Progress was very slow.

I started reading the "Bible" as I called it then and found a whole new image of G-d emerge. A kind,nurturing G-d rather than the one I'd known before. One that used situations to teach us how to behave and Who truly loved us.

In April, I was talking to one of my clients who knew a woman he said knew Hebrew. So I called her and she invited me to attend a Shabbat Shacharis at the local Conservative Shul.

As soon as I walked in, I knew I was home. When the Torah came out, the tears flowed like I found the family that had been missing for generations. Even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes now.

The next week, I started calling family members to ask about my grandmother's past. I don't know why I did this. I found out she was born in 1885 in Bukosko, Poland. That much I knew. What I didn't know is she was raped by a catholic man when she was 18 because she was the daughter of the rabbi in town. The next day, the man somehow got caught in some farm machinery and chopped to pieces very slowly. The guy was alone, and people knew that, but she had to leave out of fear for her life.

Somehow, in a twist of irony, a catholic man agreed to marry her and take her to the United States. What was she to do? She had no money. She did what she had to do to survive.

There were little hints looking back. She never had christmas lights. Just Channukah candles in the window. She never ate ham even when others were eating it.

I found out her maiden name was Jasiczek. From someone who specializes in genealogy in Bukosko, I found this was a popular Jewish name. I also found out no Jasiczeks survived the war. For some reason the Germans specially hunted them out.

I was able to find someone who went to Bukosko and they checked the baptismal records in the local Catholic churches. There was no record of my grandmother being baptised there nor being married. I'm thinking it didn't happend.

Anyway, on my third time at shul, Rabbi Abraham Raich called me up for an Aliyah.

He stood to his left side of the Bema and he got completely pale. As he was in his 80's I was concerned he was having a heart attack. It appeared as if his hair was blowing in the wind, however there was no fan on. He said "Gershon, Gershon ben Franja, come up here" while looking straight at me.

My name is Gary. But my mother's polish name is Franja. He had no way of knowing that. She lived 1500 miles away with no phone listing. I looked at the guy next to me and said "I'm not Jewish." He said "The rabbi says to go up, so go up."

Somehow, I made it through the Aliyah. It seemed the most natural thing in the world. The words just came out of my mouth from someplace.

Later, I learned he was considered to have the Ruach HaKodesh for recognizing Jewish souls. Given that my mother's mother was a practicing Jew, I was technically Jewish without having the need to convert.

Well, about that time, I found Paltalk. Rabbi Elirok gives great Torah classes in the Jewish Home. (He still does this.) He know I was still figuring out my spiritual path and that never concerned him. Mostly I just sat and listened.

At that point in time, I considered myself fully Jewish. Oh, I knew I'd have to either prove my genealogy or convert, but I knew where I was headed.

I continued learning Hebrew. The rabbi even asked me to lead a portion of the Shabbat Shacharis which is probably forbidden by some obscure rule. He just insisted I lead it in Hebrew which I stumbled through. The people were amazingly patient. Without this, I may not have had the motivation to practice.

At the same time, a wonderful family invited me to their home for Torah Study each Shabbat. It was the high point of the week. The teacher stuck only to Pshat which was just what I needed.

Then came a very difficult time in my path. I would open a class in Paltalk each morning and just read from Hebrew books. The Artscroll Study Series at first. Then other books. All from Jewish sources. I got unmercifully attacked by many of the Jews there. They would say I wasn't Jewish. I'd say fine as technically I probably wasn't at the time. Then they would accuse me of being a missionary. I wasn't. I had no interest in the other stuff. I'd get booted from rooms and lied about to the Paltalk administrators until I got banned. It finally stopped when I took legal action.

Normally, I wouldn't talk about such things, but it's important to how I feel. G-d forbid that a Jewish soul should come to my website and be turned away from Hashem because I say something like "You aren't Jewish." G-d forbid a person trying to find their way to Torah should be turned away from me. Everything I've read suggests such a person is higher than a high priest and attains a level no born Jew can ever attain.

What did a born Jew have to give up? What beliefs did they have to change? What did they do to deserve to become Jewish? Did their family and friends ever reject them because they were changing their faith?

If a christian wants to take one step towards Torah, I welcome them. I don't try to push them off by telling them to be a Noahide. For all I know, they could be the Moshiach. Afterall, Rabbi Akiva was a pagan until age 42.

All I ask is we don't debate christian beliefs. Let's just learn Torah. If it's good for that person, great. If not, that's fine, too.

The pain of being rejected by the Jewish people is something that will never leave me. I know I was born with a Jewish soul. But it has also taught me to be fully accepting of people wherever they are in their spiritual journey.

Well, a couple of years later, Rabbi Hersh Mendyl Shatzka asked me to study with him. We started with translating the Kedushat Levi. At first just a few lines a week. After a year or so, we started on Tzvat HaRivash.

In June 07, I went to the Miqvah.

Learning Hebrew was just something I had to do. Somehow it enhanced my connnection with the Holy One of Blessing. The more I learned, the closer I felt. It didn't matter if I even understood the topic. Just the process formed a connection.

I believe learning Hebrew awakens the Jewish soul. It's my belief that only a Jewish soul can become really proficient at Hebrew. This is NOT the same as saying all Jewish souls can learn Hebrew. I think there are reasons many can't.

So, I started the Youtube site last spring to awaken Jewish souls. I knew just a few letters would awaken people. I also knew the Aleph Beyt was the most difficult part. Those that were awakened would find a path.

I also know many people of other faiths will use the website. I would never discourage that. But perhaps it should come with a warning label. "Warning - learning Hebrew can be hazardous to your old beliefs."

Well, due to a computer glitch, I lost all my data as well as my website. So I left youtube for awhile. But then noticed more people were coming. And each day in my email there would be a couple more subscribers. I decided to add more. Then my rabbi started getting calls from his friends. They had found the videos and were using them in their congregation.

Somehow, I was able to recover most of the old data on my computer. It wasn't lost afterall thanks to a chance backup I'd made.

Well, I know this doesn't tell a person how to learn Hebew. The answer is simple. Just learn it.

1. Learn the Aleph Beyt.
2. Start stumbling through words in the Tanach or Siddur.
3. Start to Davan slowly in Hebrew. A little each day.
4. Start to translate whatever seems fun to you.

Repeat 2, 3 and 4 until one gets there. I

On my website at I've organized the lessons a little better to access the Youtube videos. Most of them are the same videos.

I also have a section on learning by singing. Little songs that will help build vocabulary and pronunciation and will be easy to remember. Eventually the songs will get longer. There will likely be 100's of them. All recorded at our Shul. The goal of learning these songs is not to learn Hebrew. That's a side effect. The goal is transformation in our lives.

The site will expand to other areas. I'm currently working on a translation of Shmirat HaLashon from the Chofetz Chiam. (Guarding the Tongue.) Learning to get along with other people is one of the most important aspects of Judaism. Perhaps THE most important aspect.

Eventually, there will also be a link to a place where people can find study partners. It's very difficult to study alone without someone at our own level. A teacher is simple. We can go to the writings of the sages. It's not as good as a person, but it works to some extent. Having a study partner to motivate us to keep studying and to grow together is essential.

Finding such a person in today's small communities is very difficult. But with the internet, there are more opportunities.




1 comment:

  1. hmmm very good...but Yeshua is the messiah...don't miss that...He was don't have to adopt a western "Christian" viewpoint to believe in Yeshua...and I don't know it all...but I do Yeshua!

    be good