Jonathan Hughes from Reno, NV

I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, the biggest little city in the world. It is nestled at the boundary of the high desert and the Sierra Nevada mountains, only 45 minutes from Lake Tahoe. 

Since high school I've had an interest in the Jewish people and their homeland. I visited Israel for the first time in my early twenties and was disappointed to find that, during my prime touring time, Friday and Saturday, the country was essentially shut down for Shabbat. It cemented all my preconceived ideas of how the Law was oppressive. This became ironic in my journey to Messianic Judaism because it was the beauty of Sabbath rest that later brought me to messianic beliefs.

A friend who had grown up in a messianic home moved back to Reno and influenced many of my friends to participate in the Shabbat. I found the Sabbath moving and beautiful. Not wanting to be accused of jumping on the bandwagon, I secretly started to do simple things like turning off all electronics or preparing food before the Sabbath. Eventually I joined my friends, relaxing on the Sabbaths.

My friends in the community group were open to the ideas of Messianic Judaism. We celebrated festivals, Erev Shabbat dinners, and learned Torah together. As the months went by, while they continued to value the foundation and perspective that Messianic Judaism had on their faith, people started to become less interested in observance. I found myself more and more alone in my observance and study. I was trying to celebrate the festivals by myself and to learn at a deeper level. This is simply untenable in the long run.

The community group dissolved as people's lives changed, so eventually I found myself without a tight-knit community and without a group to practice Messianic Judaism on any level. It took me a long time, but I finally asked myself what I wanted to do next in my life, and I decided I wanted to learn about Messianic Judaism in a community setting. I felt I had carried myself along as much as I could without a community, it was time to move to Hudson.

I don't remember praying much about the decision to move. I knew it was the right decision to make. The prayer picked up after I decided to move, as I navigated all the practicalities of moving away from the only place I ever knew as home.

I arrived in Hudson in July of 2015.

Besides missing my friends and the familiarity of Reno, I have enjoyed being a part of the community in Hudson. I could not have arrived at a better time than before the fall festivals. This was what I was missing: a community to celebrate the festivals with. I experienced my first Yom Kippur in a shul—a moving experience. Being able to move from sukkah to sukkah on Sukkot was wonderful; the warm hospitality and laughter lasted a whole week!

From the time I arrived, the community has been full of hospitality, from people praying for me to get a job to people reaching out to anyone who might know of an available job, from the people showing up to help me move in, to the people who patiently teach me Torah, it has shown me that this was the right decision.

I highly recommend making the decision to move to Hudson. There is a feeling of anticipation and a clear vision for what this community will be doing in the future and the impact it will have in advancing the knowledge of the Kingdom. We need devoted, loving families and individuals to join us in this work; it is the only way it will happen. See you all soon and with G-d’s help, I'll be there to help you move in!

 

Will you pray about coming to Hudson?

Beth Immanuel, Hudson, Wisconsin, and even Messianic Judaism are not for everyone. Life in any community takes commitment and sacrifice, and for some, Hashem has simply not opened the door. But please pray and ask God if this is a place where he wants you to be.

Also, join our Come Home to Hudson Facebook group to connect with other families that are considering the move or have already made it.