I was born into a Conservative Jewish home. My parents, while not overly “religious,” did their best to follow the Jewish customs and traditions. My mom kept a kosher home quite well. When I was of age, they sent me to Hebrew school where I learned to read, write, and speak Hebrew and studied about the Jewish faith. Of course, the Old Testament was a huge part of my studies. At thirteen, I made my Bar Mitzvah and was now a member of the club, so to speak, a full-fledged Jew.
When I was 16, we attended the services at the Temple for Rosh Hashanah. Since there is no temple in Jerusalem, the Jews don’t pay a tithe but pay dues to the synagogue and buy tickets for the High Holidays. Across the street from our little synagogue was an old age home. I would always see many of the men and women from there at the synagogue, either on the Sabbath or for the holidays. This particular time, an older lady came in and there were no chairs so I elected to give her mine. Holy mackerel, you can’t believe what happened; one of the ushers came over and told me I couldn’t do that since she didn’t have a ticket and had no right to a seat. I laughed at him and started to walk away. I never again went into a synagogue.
When I was seventeen, I was introduced to the occult through a high school friend of mine. His cousin owned an occult shop in my town and he brought me there to meet this cousin. The cousin was a nice guy and was very friendly. The shop owner then introduced me to two pleasant people, Janice and Rich. They were into Witchcraft (Wicca). Since I expressed a desire to learn, I went into what they referred to as a “pagan circle,” where I learned all about pagan beliefs and the deities they worshiped (i.e. the god and goddess, the lord and the lady, etc.). We referred to ourselves as “white Wiccans.” We had no intention of harming anyone through our rituals. Little did I know that the ones we were harming were ourselves. Eventually, I was brought into the “craft.”
After I joined the Air Force I kept in touch with Rich and Janice and they connected me with with different Wiccan groups in different parts of the country. It’s very widespread.
When I was stationed in California, I learned that there were others out there who practiced different aspects of the occult. A gentleman carrying a red leather briefcase with an inverted pentagram (ours were not inverted ) approached me in a mall. He told me he was a member of the First Church of Satan, based in San Francisco. I had no desire to (knowingly) serve Satan, but he piqued my interest. He invited me a ceremony that he thought I would like. I decided to go. He was wrong, though, about me liking the ceremony. I was never so terrified in my life. I’m not the bravest guy in the world but I’m no coward.
As it turns out, I was invited to a Black Mass. I found out, much later, that the Satanic Black Mass is a parody of the Holy Eucharist celebrated by the Catholic Church. I was told (not asked) to remain in my seat and observe. I found out after the “mass” that the guy officiating was a former Catholic priest.
Instead of blessing the wafers and the wine, they began to do disgusting and vile things to them that took me so much by surprise I was spellbound and unable to move. I really wanted to run out but I couldn’t. It was as if I was glued to my chair.
After my discharge from the Air Force, I still was involved with the occult practices, but confined them mostly to white Wicca. I became the High Priest of a local coven. Many covens practiced naked, or skyclad; our coven did not practice that way. We were a robed coven.
One day, my old “mentor,” Rich, reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to conjure a demon with him. He said he was studying the rites and rituals and he knew he could do it. You would have thought I learned my lesson but I was young and stupid. After this episode, I was still young, but no longer stupid.
We went through rather elaborate rituals gleaned from two of the most powerful occult ritual books in the world of ceremonial magick. (Note the “k” which distinguishes it from stage magic.) The experiences I had that night changed my life. I experienced things that night I never thought I’d see. Rich told me that as long as we were in the circle the inscribed on the ground, we were safe. Oh yeah…real safe. If God didn’t have His Hand on me that night, I’d be dead.
An incredibly beautiful woman appeared outside the circle, and tried to entice me to come out. Once again, I was too scared to move. She eventually turned into her real shape and I thought my heart would stop. She turned into the most hideous thing I’ve ever seen. When she disappeared, the real show began. It was as if one of the walls in Rich’s house melted away, and we were greeted with a glimpse of hell. The smell was atrocious—rotten eggs, sulfur—I can’t begin to describe it. Then came the demon that Rich conjured up and I thought my life was over. They can take shapes, even though they are spirit beings. He assumed the most hideous shape you could imagine. If he was trying to scare us, he succeeded. He laughed and said to Rich, “Do you really think that circle can stop me?” At that point, Rich was picked up off the ground and slammed into a wall fifteen feet away. That was it for me. I ran into the back of his house, locked myself in the bathroom, and stayed there for I don’t know how long.
I went out to check on Rich; I thought he was dead. He would have been better off if he was. He was foaming at the mouth and babbling incoherently. I called 911, managed to convince them that I came to the house to hang out with Rich and, oh look at what I found. I don’t think the police believed me but they never pressed the issue; there was no sign of drug use or physical harm. For 20 years, Rich was at a psychiatric institute on Long Island; he had apparently lost his mind. He died eventually of self-inflicted harm.
The next day, I met with the people who were in charge of a number of covens, mine included. I told them I was done and was leaving the scene. It got ugly; we pushed, we shoved, we exchanged punches, I left. This was in the dead of winter in February 1982. As I sat in my car, waiting for that clunker to warm up, two of the guys came outside and were looking at me. I could see their mouths moving and assumed they were chanting some kind of incantation. I was right. Within seconds, the driver’s and front passenger’s windows blew out. Out, not in. They looked shocked and went back inside. I almost had heart failure. I threw my car in drive and took off. The next morning, at the glass place, the guy commended me on doing such a great job cleaning up the glass. I told I did no such thing and he laughed at me. I believe God had His angels around my car and they prevented the glass from touching me.
During this time, I was working with a gentleman, Ray, who was a new Christian. He “sensed” I was into something and began to witness to me. I tried to be respectful and told him I wasn’t interested. After the night we conjured the demon, I quickly became interested. After I got to work, I ran over to Ray’s workstation and begged him to take me to church. That night, we met the pastor of his Southern Baptist church. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was delivered from years of occult oppression. Having basically served the devil for many years, I knew his power; I knew what of he was capable. The night I accepted Jesus into my heart as my savior, I finally knew the power of God and I knew that the devil no longer had power over me. The creator of the universe defeated him because of His love for me…ME! What a humbling experience.
I knew my parents would be terribly upset when they found out I became Christian, especially since I essentially did it out of fear. I didn’t tell them for some time. I was afraid of what their reaction would be. The name Jesus was anathema to most Jews and my parents were no different.
I stayed with that church for a while, learning as much as I could of the Bible and building a relationship with God and His Son. In 1984, I was married in an evangelical Lutheran church that my wife attended. She was not keen on the Baptist way of worship so, naturally, she rarely went to church with me. After a time, I began to get very uncomfortable there. At least once each Sunday, either the pastor or someone in the congregation would comment about the Catholics who went to church down the road from our church; all I heard was how “those Catholics” were marching straight to hell.
After a time, my wife and I began to attend her church, albeit infrequently. Eventually, we stopped going altogether. We moved out of that area and never attended any church until our son was born in 1997. All of sudden she was preoccupied with getting him baptized so we took him to the local Episcopal church to have him baptized.
All through my marriage I rarely attended church and, on those rare occasions when I (or we) did, I always felt something was missing. We divorced and I became depressed. A work friend of mine, a Pentecostal, invited me to his church. I wasn’t thrilled with being around too many people but I gave it a try anyway. They had great music! It was a fairly mixed congregation age-wise and the people were very nice. Their worship, though, was strange to me — speaking in tongues was something I’d never experienced. At the time I knew little about that but I was never comfortable with it. The pastor always told people to speak in tongues on command. I found out later that was not biblical.
I eventually ended up in a ministry position there; I became their soundman. I used to work a soundboard for my friends’ band so I was a natural. I stayed in that church for almost four years; all that time, I heard about how Catholics were “religious” and a dead religion. It seemed that any church I attended always had something negative to say about the Catholic Church. I needed to find out why. If the Catholic Church had nothing to offer, why were all these fundamentalist and Protestant churches so preoccupied with them?
In 2009, I decided I needed to find out what the deal was with the Catholic Church. I began to read as much as I could about the Church, from the Protestant side and the Catholic side. Having been raised Jewish, I still had some deep seated obstacles regarding Christianity in general, but the more I learned about the Catholic Church, the fewer obstacles I had. I read Scott Hahn, Tim Staples, Patrick Madrid, and others. The more I read the more I realized that the Catholic Church was, indeed, the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
In 2010, I enrolled in the RCIA program and at Easter Vigil in 2011 I was brought into full communion with Mother Church. Since I was never baptized, at the other churches I had attended, I received the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil Mass. I knew in my heart and my spirit that Jesus truly was the Messiah and my Redeemer.