Jerry Kaplowitz

Profile Updated: January 29, 2010
Jerry Kaplowitz
Residing In: Germantown, TN USA
Spouse/Partner: Karen, married in August 1980.
Occupation: Registered Nurse, free-lance writer
Children: Rachel - born January 1985
Ben - born June 1988
Military Service: U.S. Navy hospital corpsman (1971-1980)  
Yes! Attending Reunion
Comments:

A visit to the decaying football field behind the old Northwood High School building gave evidence to the 40 years that had passed. I could still envision the crowded bleachers and hear the echoes of the shouting crowd on Friday nights as number 12 tried to pass for a first down. Rust now covered those neglected metal seats and innumerable weeds had long-since replaced down markers on the football field.
For me, four decades meant almost ten years as a medic in the U.S. Navy, a bachelor’s degree in journalism, a wife, two kids, eight years as a photo-journalist for a medical relief organization based in the Delta of Mississippi, a nursing diploma in Boston and a career as an RN in Memphis, Tennessee. However, despite a resume that would fulfill any dreamer, something was more important. A passport full of foreign consulate stamps and a multitude of experiences did not provide true meaning in life. It was a journey that began long ago.
I was taught as a child in Hebrew school the firm fact that all mankind is basically good. However, I knew you didn’t have to teach a kid to be selfish. It was in the nature of every child to want more. King Solomon was on the mark when he wrote, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”
Because of that inborn flaw in our character, God refused to have anything to do with us, which made complete sense. As the Hebrew prophet Isaiah later appropriately concluded, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”
If the God I wanted to believe in was completely holy, he would not tolerate impurity in his presence. That is why he established the practice of blood sacrifice, to provide forgiveness for the sins of his people. The Creator set consequences. He demanded we give up something of value. When Moses received the law from God, he wrote,”For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
In 70 A.D., rampaging Roman soldiers destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the place where the priests conducted sacrifices for the transgressions of the Jewish people. I faced a dilemma. I could not recall one incident when my people killed an animal or shed blood for thoughts, behavior, or acts against their Heavenly Father. But God never rescinded this requirement. The conclusion was obvious and enlightening. No sacrifice. No spilling of blood. My people were doing nothing to address the sin problem. Therefore, the void between God and man was insurmountable and spiritually deadly.
After several intense months of searching and study, I discovered the ultimate solution to bridge the Divine abyss. The true Messiah, my Messiah, was the God-Man, Jesus. It was he who was sent by the Creator to intercede for me and the Hebrew people. However, that “Gentile thing” continued as an obstacle to belief. I could not hurdle that cultural wall. What sounded so easy was again, too difficult.
Several years passed. Frustrated, my spiritual search reached a dead-end. I became bitter. My enlistment in the Navy ended, I was now living in San Diego, California and college increased the demands on my time. I purposely neglected God, relegating him to the dark alleys of my life. Until the day my roommate invited a friend going through a divorce to spend a few days at our apartment. His friend was one of those pushy Christians who tried to convert everyone he met. “We’ll get along just fine,” I instructed the intruder, “as long as you don’t force your beliefs on me.”
The next day, I was the first home from class. I noticed a business card on the coffee table. The name on the card pierced my soul like a shock of electricity. It read, “Irv Rifkin, American Board of Missions To The Jews.”
There’s no way I’m going to touch that card or call that phone number, I told myself. I wasn’t stupid, I knew what “Missions to the Jews” meant. That man was part of an organization that converted Jews and changed them into Gentiles. The card sat on the end of the table for weeks. Each time I walked past, it dared me to look again and call the number imprinted on its surface. I finally did.
“Hi, Irv Rifkin. Can I help you?” asked the friendly voice on the other end of the line.
How about lifting me from my spiritual quagmire, I thought. Of course, now wasn’t the time to empty my philosophical baggage to a complete stranger. “My name’s Jerry Kaplowitz,” I answered casually, “I’d like to meet and talk about some things on my mind.”
“Great,” Irv said. “Let’s have a cup of coffee and I’ll be glad to answer any of your questions.” We set a time and a place. I hung up. Had I really taken this drastic step? Had I done the right thing? Would I just be another notch in Rifkin’s belt?
The evening of the appointment arrived. I hadn’t been this scared since my sub’s unscheduled depth-charge drill off the coast of Russia. If anything, at least I would have some of my questions answered. No harm done. I would stay a few moments and escape unharmed.
Irv turned out to be no threat. He was not menacing or uncomfortably persuasive. A slightly-built man with large black glasses in his upper 30’s, he was originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised as a conservative Jew like myself. He even went to Hebrew school as a boy and was Bar Mitzvahed at thirteen. However, he was unlike any Jewish guy I ever met. Irv professed to believe in Y’shua, Jesus, as the promised Messiah. He was a completed, or Messianic Jew. At the end of a fascinating hour, he invited me to a Bible study at his house the next week. He assured me that everyone in attendance would be Jewish, so I willingly accepted the offer.
Just as my new friend promised, each of the approximately dozen people present at the meeting were Jews. They were young and old and claimed towns from across the nation as their homes, and most had accepted Y’shua. My visits to the study became regular. I soaked up scriptural truth as my thirsty soul became satiated by the invigorating water of God’s word. Irv could tell I was growing closer to the One who loved me.
The clouds of doubt began to dissipate. I did not have to abandon my heritage or jettison my culture to accept Y’shua, Jesus, as the true Messiah. The facts were clear and the prophecies fulfilled.
It was late in the evening on Friday, the thirteenth day of July 1979. I was alone in my apartment; my roommate was visiting his parents for the weekend. I felt compelled to read my Bible and a book on a Jewish man’s journey to faith that I had scanned countless times. However this time, the words of the Holy Scripture became vibrant and resonated through time as never before. The intentions of the Promised One touched not only my mind, but my heart. Moses, King Solomon, David and Isaiah reached across the ages to form a completed tapestry of redemption that had, until now, only been pieces of a confusing puzzle. Through a long line of Hebrew wise men and prophets, the Creator of the Universe revealed his promise for his people. He revealed his promise for me. Finally and with authority, my Heavenly Father confirmed the fact he had sacrificed his only Son to restore a relationship with me. As the clock struck midnight, I knew my spiritual search had ended. Leaden scales were gently removed from my unseeing eyes. I asked Y’shua to enter my heart.
It was the most Jewish thing I could ever do.

School Story:

I have two indelible memories from my Northwood years. The first is finishing last during my initial cross country team race against Montgomery Blair H.S. I was so slow, I remember spectators packing to go home prior to crossing the finish line. But, I finished! Many years later, that memory of humiliation motivated me to become a successful distance runner in college and in my early adult years.

Second, I'll never forget the head coach of the football team, Gerry Sisson, making me put on a red jersey and placing me on the defensive line during summer practice. I was skinny and attempting to make the team as a wide receiver, but coach wanted to create the worst possible environment to test any "rookie". He succeeded in breaking my spirit, as the massive offensive linemen easily crushed my undersized adolescent body, created pain and a aborting my brief attempt to make the team.

Junior High School

Sligo Junior High, Silver Spring, MD

Elementary School

Forest Knowles Elem. School, Silver Spring, MD

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Jerry Kaplowitz has a birthday today.
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Nov 06, 2018 at 4:33 AM
Jerry Kaplowitz has a birthday today.
Nov 06, 2017 at 4:33 AM
Jerry Kaplowitz has a birthday today.
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Jerry Kaplowitz has a birthday today.
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Jerry Kaplowitz has a birthday today.
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Jerry Kaplowitz has left an In Memory comment for Profile.
Sep 21, 2014 at 4:33 PM

I reestablished contact with Edward a couple of years ago, but hadn't talked with him in a while. We hung out a lot @ NHS & we shared many good memories. I am very sad!!

Jerry Kaplowitz added a comment on Profile.
Jul 08, 2014 at 11:31 PM
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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:48 AM
With Karen in our den at home in Germantown, TN.