Messianic Jewish Vendor Combines Passions for Prayer & Music

Jun 13 2016
Posted by: The Contributor
Messianic Jewish Vendor Combines Passions for Prayer & Music

By: Allie Gross

Where do you sell The Contributor?
I sell at West End Avenue and Bowling Avenue, on the corner there. Close to the synagogue that I go to, Sherith Israel. I’m orthodox, and so I go to Sherith Israel... I’m there 14 hours a day, six days a week, just about. My regular customers, we get to know each other. Some people I don’t know their names, others I do, but they always look forward to the new issue, they’re always wondering how I’m doing, how my wife’s doing. Seventy-five percent of the sales that I do are to the members of the synagogue.

You mentioned you’re from Alabama originally. What brought you to Nashville?
It was actually music that brought me here. I’m a guitar player. I play guitar, I play bass, I play drums, a little bit of keyboard. I’m pretty much eclectic when it comes to musical instruments. I actually play at a church, I’m an active member at Green Street Church of Christ.

So you belong to an orthodox synagogue, as well as a church?
My father’s Jewish and my mother’s Catholic. I guess I have both religions that I was raised up in. And so I was raised both with the Latin Bible, the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek New Testament as well, and so I consider myself   —even though I practice orthodox Judaism — I consider myself a messianic as well. A messianic Jew is a Jewish person that follows the tradition of the Torah and the Haftorah, which is the second portion of the Old Testament, and the messianic Jews they also believe that Jesus is the Messiah. ... I go to the synagogue on Friday nights and sometimes on Saturday mornings. And then I go to church on Sunday mornings. So I have both.

What kind of music do you play?
I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old. My father, he wrote over 300 songs in his life, and he was my inspiration honestly for when it comes to music. I guess that’s why when I listen to music, I listen to mostly 70s and 80s rock and roll. My favorite bands would have to be Journey, Boston, Aerosmith, AC/DC. And there’s a few other bands that are newer like Evanescence and 3 Doors Down, stuff like that.
I do messianic music. It’s usually bilingual music that I do, it’s in Hebrew and in English. Most of my inspirational music that I write is prayers from the Old Testament, from songs and stuff like that. Or I just think of certain prayers that the messianic Jews do...I put them to music.

Tell me about your wife.
She draws disability just like I do, and we’re in the process of getting her a wheelchair so she can get up and about. She’s literally been [sequestered] in the room for over eight months because she can’t get out. She’s unable to walk long distances, stand for long periods of time. And so it’s up to me to be the man of the household and provide for her and I, and we both pay the rent together on our disability. We pay for our phone bills. And it’s up to me with The Contributor to pay for the food and the house.

How did you two meet?
It’s a funny story actually. Her and I met at a family reunion – no, we’re not related. Her grandfather and my father knew each other from Israel. Both her grandfather and my father were born in Tel Aviv, Israel. They were great friends, and when they both came over to America they started a family, and my wife’s family stayed in Illinois and my family stayed in Alabama. But we would always have a family reunion at the same time here in Tennessee, and at the end of the family reunion we’d all go to the Johnny Cash Ranch. Like I said, my dad was a songwriter. That’s how Johnny Cash met my dad.

What do you like about selling The Contributor?
What I like about it is the people I get to meet. There’ll be some people that are rude, some people that are really nice and it just depends on the day. I like the challenge, I really do. It’s challenging work. I do it full time. I’m up at the crack of dawn and I don’t even leave my spot until the sun starts setting. In the summertime I’m at my spot 14, 15, 16 hours a day. Walking back and forth on the sidewalk for 16 hours a day is really taxing, but you get to meet all sorts of people.
I was actually selling ... on 12th and Broadway and I met [Garth Brooks]. He actually gave me a dollar bill and he signed it, which was awesome, and I didn’t even realize who I was talking to at first. Until after I looked at the dollar bill and I was like, you got to be kidding me. I was talking to Garth Brooks like he’s a normal person.

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