The Slobodkins

23 11 2004

Yesterday I picked up this week’s issue of WORLD Magazine and read the following:

L’Abri’s golden jubilee

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of L’Abri Fellowship by Francis Schaeffer. Thousands of young backpackers, burned-out hippies, and other seekers trying to sort out the big issues of life flocked to this study center in the Swiss Alps where they learned about biblical Christianity and its implications for life today . . .

Among other things, the article explained that WORLD desires to hear from L’Abri alumni from the Schaeffer years for an anniversary project. I thought, “I should send this to the Slobodkins.”

Hylan and Rita Slobodkin are Jews. They married quite young–I believe he was 21 and she only 19. As newlyweds in the late sixties they embarked on a journey in search of truth. Their travels took them to India and other centers of spiritual enlightenment before they found themselves in the midst of a unique community.

L’Abri. There Francis Schaeffer, a man of amazing intellectual gifts and prophetic insight, gently and convincingly led them to the foot of the cross, where they found both their roots and their Messiah.

Hylan is currently the rabbi of Beit Tikvah, a Messianic congregation in Seattle, Washington, where the stated goal is “re-establishing the Jewish roots of our faith, recognizing Yeshua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah, already come and coming again.”

The Slobodkins are unapologetically Jewish and openly Christian. My daughter, Grace, is close to two of their children, Israel and Eliza. As their guest she has celebrated Passover seder in their home and experienced other elements of Jewish worship and culture.

Hylan and Israel are fluent in Hebrew and often converse in it. Once when Grace was visiting in their home she began quoting one of the Psalms in perfect Hebrew.

Hylan’s jaw dropped. “You know Hebrew?”

Grace grinned. “Sure. Are you surprised?”

“How . . . when . . .?”

She laughed. “I’m kidding. I was just quoting the words of a Hebrew song our choir sang.”

An interesting story. Rita’s grandparents were young lovers in Germany when Hitler began persecuting Jews. Her grandfather was taken to a concentration camp. One day all the young men in his age group were marched out, lined up, and executed by firing squad. But none of the bullets hit him.

He had the presence of mind to fall anyway, and remained as still as possible among the dead bodies for two days before finding a chance to escape. He eventually made his way to a refugee camp where he and his young fiancee were reunited.

When George and I were in Seattle, Grace and Eliza (now roommates) arranged a dinner date for both families. We arrived at her apartment and knocked, but no one answered. The sound of a guitar and singing carried through the door. Assuming they couldn’t hear us knocking, we let ourselves in.

The living room in their apartment is upstairs, and we followed the sound of lively music to a gathering above us. A slender, striking man with grey hair and piercing-yet-compassionate eyes, Hylan had his foot propped on the coffee table and was playing and singing his heart out. When he finished, the girls introduced us. We felt we knew them at once.

We piled into their SUV and drove to Capitol Hill. Over Thai cuisine we chatted about various topics, sometimes laughing, sometimes serious, always comfortable.

Grace and Eliza smiled their pleasure. “We knew you would be friends.”

After the girls said good-night, we remained on the sidewalk talking as though we’d known each other for years. Friends. More than friends. Family.

Had the bullets not missed, there would be no Hylan and Rita. No Israel and Eliza. Had there been no L’Abri, there would have been no autumn evening of companionship–an evening that may mean nothing more than a pleasant memory or may bear profound eternal significance.

It’s all working together. The big and the small. I hope I never become too busy or self-absorbed to look and listen. Everybody has a story. I don’t want to miss it when it intersects mine.


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8 responses

24 11 2004
Anonymous

Your writing rocks, baby

EZ,

Loved this: “everybody has a story. I don’t want to miss it when it intersects mine.” I love the way you wove all the stories together, and of course, I love the way God weaves His amazing stories together.And, I’m so glad He wove my heart to yours.

24 11 2004
Anonymous

Your writing rocks, baby

EZ,

Loved this: “everybody has a story. I don’t want to miss it when it intersects mine.” I love the way you wove all the stories together, and of course, I love the way God weaves His amazing stories together.And, I’m so glad He wove my heart to yours.

28 11 2004
emma_furlong

stories

What a lovely warm story and I agree we all do have a story. I loved your ending, I dont want to be too busy and miss the intersecting either. And the great thing is that God is writing my story. I don’t know how it will end yet, there have been lots of twists and turns. And I’m so glad He is writing it, if it was left to me it might not get finished!!!!!
Emma

28 11 2004
emma_furlong

stories

What a lovely warm story and I agree we all do have a story. I loved your ending, I dont want to be too busy and miss the intersecting either. And the great thing is that God is writing my story. I don’t know how it will end yet, there have been lots of twists and turns. And I’m so glad He is writing it, if it was left to me it might not get finished!!!!!
Emma

28 11 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: Your writing rocks, baby

Thank you! I’m so glad, too.

♥ EZ

28 11 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: Your writing rocks, baby

Thank you! I’m so glad, too.

♥ EZ

28 11 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: stories

Thanks, Emma. You’re right. The story twists and turns all the way to happily ever after. :o)

Take care.
EZ

28 11 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: stories

Thanks, Emma. You’re right. The story twists and turns all the way to happily ever after. :o)

Take care.
EZ

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