Mark Lee Golden   Copyright 2013


Chanukkah 2013

The sun sets on a cold November day. My home is dim. Five slim candles are burning in a chanukkiah, a nine-branch menorah on the fourth night of an ancient Jewish holiday. My parents raised me to celebrate what amounted to early guerilla warfare tactics used by my ancestors against an overwhelming, well-trained army. And we won.

I say “we.”

I have a right to include myself in the ancient and worldwide “we” because I was born into a Jewish family. My race is Hebrew. I always state to the curious, that “both sides of my family are Jews all the way back.” But, such heritage and the blood in my veins didn’t drive me or impassion me with a love for the foreign country of Israel. My heart did not yearn for Ha’aretz, the Land. I didn’t desire to make “aliyah,” that is, emigrate to Israel.

“We” had to leave our homeland, the Promised Land, long ago. I know that centuries later my more recent ancestors’ roots drank in what they could while scattered throughout Eastern Europe and Ukraine. But, when America became the Land of Promise, my mother’s and father’s fathers relocated.

In the early 1900s, a 12 year-old girl (who couldn’t speak English), lived in a country village, one day’s horseback ride to Kiev. She left certain family members behind. Her parents booked passage for her on a ship from Hamburg, Germany, to New York. She was one of my grandmothers; that’s why I am an American citizen. On her arrival, she met family who’d traveled ahead of her.

I hand small holiday gifts to my children and smile recalling how they each wanted to say the candle lighting b’rachah (blessing). Tonight, my traditional candle-lighting prayer has no doubt wafted its way through the ceiling onward to heaven joining millions of other similar holiday acknowledgements. “Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melech ha’olam asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu l’had’lik neir shel Chanukkah. Omein.” Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Chanukkah. Amen.

There again a “we” which doubles as an “us.”

 I’d heard about Israel since childhood in synagogue and at home. When growing up in Los Angeles, my grandmother occasionally read the Jerusalem Post newspaper in our home. In adult years, I read about my people’s good, but mostly disastrous and embarrassing, biblical past.

*                               *                               *

In 2010 at age 54, I stood in Jerusalem for the first time. I traveled there by myself. No guided tour. I gazed at the Kotel (Hebrew term for The Wall), also called the Western or Wailing Wall. I brought with me a Bar Mitzvah gift from my parents, a fine but yellowing silk prayer shawl, called a tallit. When I packed for this month-long trip, I felt God nudging me to bring it. I had had misgivings of traveling with this sentimental, 40 year-old object. First, the possibility of theft or loss of luggage. Second, I rarely wore it anyway. Third, limited room in my luggage. I had a large backpack, a day pack and a small soft bag (this way I could be mobile on my feet).

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Praise for The Ring of Torrents

“Messianic Jew, Mark Golden’s extensive research into the history of his culture

has given him a broad understanding of Jewish life in the first century. This

understanding, in turn, has brought about his interest in a very Jewish Mary and

her husband, Joseph. While most Gentile Christians consider Mary mainly in the

context of the Christmas story, Mark Golden has portrayed her everyday life, her

struggles and her questions, as she accepts and lives out her God-given role as

mother of the Messiah.”


Ruth McHaney Danner, author

“In The Ring of Torrents, gifted author Mark Golden re-imagines the most treasured of ancient Christian stories. Readers are drawn into the people, places, and events surrounding young Miriam (Mary) and the mysterious birth of her son Yeshua (Jesus) like never before. This book will both challenge and reward readers interested in exploring the nuances of Jewish family life and religious culture in First-Century Israel.”


Rob Vanhoff, Instructor in Bible Languages and Interpretation History, Torah

  Resource Institute, BA/MA, University of Washington. Co-host of the religious

  podcast and YouTube program , “The Rob & Caleb Show.”

“Mark has done a great job of presenting Yeshua (Jesus), his family, & background

from a Jewish perspective. I enjoyed the story and appreciated the time, research,

and imagination he put into it. The Messianic community needs more books and

writers like this. The Christian community will be edified to read this book and

story, as it is helpful to understand the world in which Yeshua and his family lived,

and the Hebraic context in which the message of the Good News was presented.”


  Rabbi Reuel Dillon, congregational leader and teacher at Synagogue Chavurat

  HaMashiach for 14 years


“The Ring of Torrents drew me into ancient stories as if I was right there intimately

seeing each one played out. The higher education I’ve earned needs fiction like this

to enjoy being a keeper and teacher of Biblical knowledge.”


  Bruce Booker, Ph.D, Th.D., Messianic Rabbi of Beth Yeshua Messianic Congregation,  North Idaho

“Mark Golden, is a beyond the ordinary Messianic Jew. He writes disarming, offbeat

prose designed to ambush the unsuspecting victim-reader. Using his carefully

crafted phrases, ideas and stories, Mark exposes fallacious, unthinkingly assumed

societal conventions, gets you to wonder about stuff, turns your perspective on its

head, forces you to concede to his inverted logic, and invariably drives home his

counterpoint. Rely on Mark’s writing to help you see things differently.”

 James Leuschen, Pastor

“Mark Golden is truly one-of-a-kind! He is one of those creative geniuses who uses

words to paint extraordinary pictures and to tell delightful stories. Over the years

I’ve known him, I’ve come to appreciate his quick wit and his quirky sense of humor.

I highly recommend his work.

Kari Browning, Director New Renaissance Healing & Creativity Center

Send me an email. I’d appreciate hearing from you!

Now Available on Amazon & Kindle      Click here for my Hebrew glossary of over 350 words and phrases with audio pronunciation and definitions. (Sales Tax added for WA state residents.)
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The reader is a Messianic Rabbi using a Sephardic nusach dialect.