“A warm welcome to the 235th Post on Zingcreed, the Christian/Atheist manifesto, which sometimes upsets readers for not being radical enough! Way out, man! How about a Zingcreed Pledge to sign? I’m floating this as an idea; what do you think, dear readers? Comments please! Watch this space!” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.
It’s so ironic, this story, I can’t help an exasperated grin coming across my face when I think of it; but it’s also sad – it makes one despair of people. Was Oscar a sucker, and were the guys he went to see/worship in Brooklyn con-men? Or, as Oscar believed, was the sick Rabbi in Brooklyn actually the Messiah?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I first became aware of the ‘new Messiah’ through bumper stickers in Ilford in North London. My work led me to cycle through Western Europe’s largest Jewish community every day for 16 years; and I had started to notice a proliferation of deckels advertising the arrival of the Jews’ long awaited ‘Moschiach’ or Messiah. (You may think that means Jesus, but they don’t.) According to my young Jewish friend Oscar this well-known and revered Rabbi in Brooklyn (where the Jehovahs Witnesses come from, but I’m sure that’s irrelevant) had had a stroke, and his friend/assistant/partner-in-crime, take your pick, decided he was in fact the Messiah who had come to save world Jewry!
The Rabbi himself never made this claim. The glossy brochures (why didn’t Jesus think of this means of publicity? (Joke)) were all written by the devoted side-kick, and -guess what – only he could communicate with the stricken rabbi, and he alone. Visitors queued up out the bedroom door, down the stairs and out into the street. All eager to get the blessing of this poor old geezer and to hear his message to mankind as conveyed through the lips of his intermediary. What a strange way for God to communicate with his people. How could anyone be taken in by this rubbish?
Sadly, Oscar was. He sold all he had and borrowed from friends to raise money for the airfare from London to New York. This was an opportunity he felt he couldn’t miss. I never heard any news of Oscar. Slowly, the bumper stickers in Ilford started to disappear. I heard a rumour that the Rabbi had died.
I never heard of Oscar again.
He was just 15 years old and one of my science students.