Stan Telchin felt betrayed. His twenty-one year old daughter had just told him that she believed Jesus was the Messiah. As a fifty- year old successful business man, who had raised his children well, He couldn’t understand how she could do such a thing. With divided emotions and heated tensions, the united closely-knit Telchin family was soon threatened. To win his daughter back and resolve the matter, Stan set out to prove that Jesus couldn’t possibly be the Jewish Messiah. In the process, He made some amazing discoveries. This is his story.
I was thinking, on September 14, 1974, I’d reached a big 5 0. And my wife Ethel threw a party for me that wouldn’t quit. We had two hundred of our most intimate friends come for a bash at our house. It was remarkable and I really felt on top of the world. Not only did I have a wonderful wife and two fantastic daughters, but in terms of the material things of this world, we had a 6000 square foot house and people got impressed when I’d say that we had 4 BMW’s ( but three of them were stick shift), and a swimming pool, full time help, and a country club. Things were looking pretty good and I was at the point of my life when I thought I really had it made. As a matter of fact, if my mother had been alive she would have been thrilled to pieces. I know my mother-in- law was very happy.
That was in September of 1974 and it was just about six months later that I think I wanted to die. Because that’s the time, on a Sunday night, when I was in my den trying to make my plans for the rest of the week coming up, I received a telephone call from my daughter Judy, who was a student at Boston University. It wasn’t unusual that she should call, but this time she said, “Dad can you talk?”. What kind of question is that, “Dad can you talk?”? Of course I can talk. She never asked me “can you talk?” before, why is she asking me now. And all of a sudden, you can imagine what was going on through my head. Oh-oh! Drugs!, Oh-oh! She wrecked the car, Oh-oh! She got pregnant, Oh-oh! what’s going on here, she flunked out of school. I couldn’t imagine what was going on. Then she said this, “Is mom available?”, and I knew I was in trouble. Big time trouble! She wanted to get both of us on the phone at the same time. This was serious business.
Ethel was in the shower so I told that to Judy and she said, “Dad, I want to tell you something. ” Something’s happened in my life and I’ve spent the last two weeks writing a letter to you and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I was going to mail it to you but I love you so much that I was afraid if I just mailed it to you I would hurt you. I don’t want to hurt you, would you mind if I read it to you on the telephone. I went and got a pad of paper and sat down and said, ” What is it?”.
She then began to share a story with me that I never thought in my wildest dreams that a child of mine would ever tell me. The upshot of 45 minutes of conversation with me, was the fact that she’d accepted Jesus as her Messiah and Lord. As she was saying those words to me, it was like a knife going right into my heart. How could my kid, how could my firstborn, say a thing like that to me. How could my kid do a thing like that to me and to her mom and to all of our people? I kept saying “Judy, your Jewish, you can’t believe in Jesus. You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus at the same time, You can’t go north and south at the same time. You cannot be Jewish and believe in Jesus”. And she told me that wasn’t true, Jews have always believed in Jesus. I said, “What do you know, your only 21 years old, what do you know about anything?” I said, ” Look you’re coming home here in a couple of weeks for your spring break, we’ll talk about it then.” She said, ” OK, I love you Daddy.” And I said,” I love you too” and that was the end of the conversation.
By this time my wife Ethel had come in and she had heard portions of the conversation and saw the look on my face and you can just imagine what she was going through. She left the room and went into the kitchen and I could hear her banging closet doors and slamming the pots. When I finished the phone conversation I went into the kitchen to be with her and we just fell into each others arms and wept. How could a thing like this happen to us? It may be that kind of reaction seems really weird to many of you, but you’ve never experienced some of the things we’ve gone through or the history of the Jewish people and you don’t fully understand it.
I’ll try to give you a little background about our family to help you understand the depths of the pain that I was experiencing. How many have seen fiddler on the roof? If you saw fiddler on the roof you know my story. My father came over to the United States in 1904. He and my grandfather and my uncles worked for a couple of years to save money and then they brought the women over and settled on the east side of New York where many, many thousands of Jewish people came. What happened is they left one ghetto in Russia in order to come into another ghetto on the east side of New York. The story of why they left Russia is something that was really portrayed very tenderly and very meaningfully in Fiddler on the Roof. In the movie the Kasaks came into the Jewish community and for no reason raped the women and desecrated the synagogue, stole and pillaged , to drive the Jew out. That was what my family was running away from when they came here.
There was 6 kids in my family and we all lived on the east side. When things got better we moved to Brooklyn. You had to understand what it was like to be a part of the Russian Jewish family where grandfather never bothered to study English, it was much too complicated. My grandfather’s name was Isaac and he was a chimney maker in the little town in Russian that they came from and when it came to New York there were no chimneys to be made. He wasn’t able to work and life became much to complicated for him. By that time he was 55 years of age and he moved into a synagogue full time. He spent his life in the synagogue. He’s a classic picture of a European Jewish man with a fur hat and a long white beard and a black coat and always shuffling his way from the house to the synagogue. He was extremely orthodox and extremely devout and a wonderful man.
Grandma was a fireball. She was 4 foot 8 inches tall and she ruled the roost. She had 14 kids and six of them lived . There was an enormous warmth in our family and a tremendous love that we had for our grandpa and grandma so the aunts and uncles were very close. None of us had anything.
It was the depression time and that was shortly after I was born. I was born in 1924 and the depression hit and my father didn’t have any work and my brothers worked very hard and did what ever they could to support the family. What we had was a sense of togetherness, a sense of being Jewish. Although our synagogue life was nothing like our grandfather wanted or perhaps what it should have been because my father always had to work on Saturdays and my grandfather wasn’t always sure that our home was kosher enough, there was a tremendous Jewishness in our life.
I joined my first Zionism youth organization when I was 12. I didn’t know anything about Zionism but I loved to dance and I loved to sing. We would dance and sing and it was wonderful. But if you go back with me to about the time when I was 5 or 6 when we were still living on the east side, I remember one time a guy called me a Christ killer. I didn’t have the faintest idea what that was. But I remember coming home to my mother in tears and I remember her comforting me and putting me on her lap and warning me that there is us, the Jewish people, and then there’s them, the Christians. She told me the best thing to do was to stay away from them because if you get to close to them sooner or later you’re going to get hurt.
About three years later we were living in Brooklyn and I remember playing stick ball with some of the kids on the school lot and the game was over and I’m on my way home. It’s a Sunday, and there was this lady all dressed in black walking along. It’s July, it’s hot and she’s all dressed in black. I was a very skinny kid and this lady’s eyes just transfixed me. I couldn’t move. She looked at me and I froze in my tracks. She walked up to me with her purse and she knocked me to the ground and said “Get out of my way you dirty little kike”. I rushed home to my mom and again my mom had to comfort me and reminded me that there is us and there’s them.
Along all of these years, you can’t help but hear the stories about what was going on and you’re getting the stories that are beginning to happen in Germany in the late 30’s and early 40’s. It was not a very pretty story so as far as I was concerned I wanted to stay as far away from them as I could possibly stay. Even in our own community, I lived on 43rd Street in Brooklyn, the guys from 41st and 9th Ave. would come down and it would be time to get the Jews. So maybe this is a Polish week this week or next week it might be the Italian group but sooner or later we were ready, we had to be ready. I remember there was this guy. I hated him. First of all, he was smart, and he was big, and he played ball. He could really hit a ball. He was wonderful but I hated him. However, when they started coming to get us, guess who was on my side. I was right next to this guy because when He was on my side I knew that he and , mostly he, could take care of whoever was coming at us.
So this is what you have to understand. You have to understand that the word Christ and the word Christian to me in the light of my knowledge of the Crusades and in light of my knowledge of the Inquisition and in light of the experience of the Morano Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity in order to save their lives and then preserve their Jewishness as a secret, and in the light of the Holocaust and in light of the hatred that I had experienced and the anti-Semitism that I thought was coming from the Christians, the last thing I wanted to get involved with was Christians. I wanted to stay as far away from them as I possibly could.
During World War II, we had a batch a guys in the outfit and we wanted to have a service on a Friday night. We arranged with the captain to have the award room to have a service. There was about 20 guys and we were trying to go to have a service and none of us knew what we were doing, but we were all scared. I’m mean I was what? 19? and gone over seas. All of us were somewhere around 18 or 19 years and we were all scared. I remember the derisions and laughter at us as they made fun of us. They poked fun of the kikes that were going in to pray. That doesn’t sit very well.
So you begin to understand a little bit of what I’m expressing to you about my rage and my sense of betrayal. When my kid, my firstborn, my Judy, tells me she just joined the enemy.
Well move with me a couple of weeks later now and she’s coming in for her spring break and we pick her up at the airport, Ethel and I. We had another daughter, Ann, who was then 17 and Judy who’s 21. Ann just did not even want to go to the airport. She did not want to even see Judy so Ethel and I went. It’s only a 40 minute ride from the airport to where we live but can you imagine almost 35-40 minutes of silence. We didn’t know what to say to each other. What do I say to someone who’s done this to me because I was taking it personally. She had a great Jewish education. First we belonged to a very conservative Jewish synagogue and then we moved to a reformed congregation and when the money started to flow we joined the most prestigious reformed congregation in Washington, DC. It was gorgeous. She had a fine education. How could she throw all of that away.
We get into the den and by this time Ann comes out and she greets Judy. We try to make small talk but the tension is building, You can about imagine that. I turn to her and say, “Well, Judy, what is this craziness that you’re into?” From there the conversation went downhill. She tried to explain all the things that had happened to her over the last 9 months. Things that she’d read that she’d never read before. Being with friends that had made her jealous of the life that they were living and the life that she was not living and talking about the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob as though He was real. In time she received Jesus as Messiah and Lord.