David Ben-Avraham ’08 says he has, at times, felt he belonged “neither here nor there,” as a Jew who keeps the rabbinical laws and accepts Jesus as the Messiah. “You’re kind of an outcast of both parties,” says the dual citizen who grew up in Israel. Over time, Ben-Avraham , who is now a nursing graduate student , says he has come to understand that his “minute minority” status offers unique opportunities to bring people together. His family — looking for a peaceful setting in nature — moved to Colorado when he was 16, swapping houses with a family who wanted to live in Israel. Two years later, the then-18-year-old Ben-Avraham returned alone to Israel to fulfill the military-service requirements mandated for all qualified Israeli citizens. “The hardest part was dealing with murder, essentially,” he says of his three-year stint as an army medic who treated suicide-bombing victims. But, the experience also opened a door. “I had worked since [age] 14 in all kinds of jobs, and this was the first I could see myself doing long term,” he says.
Five years later, Ben-Avraham was back in Colorado, with an associate’s degree in science and ready to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing. As he searched for a school, he noticed the words “Messiah College” and took notice. “The name was actually quite attractive ... quite appropriate,” he says, with a soft chuckle. Besides a suitable name, Messiah also offered an ingredient that, thus far, had been missing from Ben-Avraham’s faith experience. “I had never lived or been in a Christian community before,” he says.
During the following two years at Messiah, Ben-Avraham developed close friendships with “fellow believers who ‘walked the talk,’ which was absolutely incredible,” he says. He also discovered his ability to answer questions from students eager to learn how Judaism and Christianity are connected.