Surreal to be Standing on That Stage
Interview with Messianic singer Joshua Aaron who lives with his wife and their five children near the Sea of Galilee
Joshua Aaron is an American-Israeli Messianic singer, song-writer, recording artist and worship leader whose music has become very popular on iTunes and YouTube. We asked Joshua to share some of his recent impressions and experiences.
Israel Today: Please describe your connection with Israel and your upbringing?
Joshua Aaron: My mother is Israeli. My father is Polish-American, not Jewish. I accepted Messiah at age 5. I grew up in America with a mixed culture of an Orthodox Jewish grandmother on one side and a Christian grandmother on the other side. The more I fell in love with Yeshua, the more I fell in love with his “brand” of Judaism, and then the more I fell in love with Israel.
My maternal grandmother fled Poland in the early years of the Holocaust. She made it out and came to Israel.
My Jewish mom and her brother were separated as young children in northern Israel when my maternal grandmother gave them up for adoption as a single mother during the War of Independence in 1948. My mom ended up leaving Israel and moving to Pennsylvania. (My mom and uncle had no contact for 50 years. Then in 1998 my mom flew to Tel Aviv to surprise my uncle on an Israeli TV show.)
How has it been for your family to return to Israel, make aliyah and get “absorbed”?
Both beautiful and difficult. It took a lot of early years in a vulnerable position. At the beginning my kids could not speak Hebrew, but were in Israeli elementary school. It took them about a year just to be able to speak with their friends and two years to get passing grades.
When we first moved here my daughter got Scarlet Fever twice, and my son was bit by a poisonous spider. His arm got all swollen, and we didn’t know enough Hebrew to understand the doctor.
We ending up having to leave Israel and move back to the US for a while. Then later we returned in 2015 after getting better prepared spiritually and in terms of my music career.
What can you say about life in the Galilee?
I can see why Yeshua always tried to get out of Jerusalem and come up here. Two-thirds of his miracles happened here in the Galilee. Today a lot of people up here think that if this is where it all began, this may be the place where an awakening could start again before Messiah returns.
I love to swim, and I go to the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River all the time with my family. Another bonus is that it is one of the most inspiring places to write about Yeshua as a song writer.
Up here in the Galilee I am also close to my uncle, aunt and cousins, and we have a sweet community of young families around us.
What is your “take” on Messianic music?
I think music has always been one of the most incredible ways to connect people with what they believe. It really started in the bible with the songbook called Psalms helping connect people with God.
Over the internet my goal is to bring the listener/viewer to Israel thru music and video – to see the stamp of the God of Israel on the Land of Israel: that it exists, that the miracle of the return of his people has happened before our very eyes. And to point toward the Messiah’s return here.
How has Covid-19 affected your music ministry?
We had figured all public, live music ministry was going to be on hold for months, but when you’re following God you have to be like a surfer – alert and ready to catch a wave, like I tell my kids.
That’s what happened with Covid. We were flying from Israel to be part of a family wedding in the US. No singing events were planned, just the wedding, but then I posted on social media that we were going to be in the US. People started contacting me, asking “Can you come play for us?” I asked my wife what we should do. The opportunity seemed to be happening. So we said, “Let’s say yes and be as safe as possible.” Before we knew it 20 concerts were happening – mostly outdoors, in 12 states. I took 2 Covid tests just to be sure. I experienced a difference between states. North Carolina felt cautious, but in all rural areas people didn’t wear masks. We had a Mennonite/Amish crowd in Ohio who didn’t seem to be concerned about Covid.
At the end of the trip we rented an RV and traveled around Northeast USA to have a family experience, play some concerts and still feel safe together in a home on wheels.
In Virginia an older lady drove 5 hours to come to a concert! She had not left home for months, hadn’t seen family, but she thanked me for giving her a chance to get out of the house. She was standing carefully at least 6 feet away from me with tears welling up.
It’s not that I was anybody special, but no one else was doing it. Safely, we were seeing the body of Messiah come together… and to have my family with me to see it since we were going around in an RV, wow!
I am actually flying to the US again now for a few weeks since I was asked to play music for the Christian TV series “The Chosen.” (The series is “fleshing out” what daily life might have looked like for Yeshua’s disciples.)
Can you give us several music highlights?
I would say in general to help be a bridge to the nations from Israel.
I have had people write about being ministered-to through the music, receiving comfort.
I wrote a song together with Aaron Shust called “Safely in his arms.” We were just thinking of getting through [these months of] Covid, but the song has helped people feel eternal victory in Messiah – even people who were dying.
How was it to play in front of the Pope?
When we moved back to Israel, I had just finished 6 years of public singing. So we did a sabbatical year with no concerts. I focused on the family getting integrated into Israel and took 2 Hebrew courses.
Then one of my first invitations was from the Vatican which invited me to come to Poland for World Youth Day with 3 million in attendance. I had to pray about it. I am not Catholic and not a huge fan of this pope. But I prayed and felt peace to go. It was surreal to be there and come full circle, to be a representative of generations of my family because almost all of my family came from Poland, both the Jewish side and the non-Jewish. All 4 of my dad’s grandparents came from Poland to America, and as I told you my mother’s mother fled Poland during the Holocaust.
So there I was standing on that stage after all this history. It was surreal to feel like I really had heard God in the “still small voice.” Right there on the stage all the puzzle pieces were suddenly making sense.
The event was played on all the Polish channels. I was just a small part of it, the Jewish singer that “showed up” that day.
Can you share a response that surprised you?
We filmed an outdoor concert in the Old City of Jerusalem at the Tower of David. I went “back and forth” that night whether I should wear a traditional kippa on my head, since I don’t normally. But my mom said “You better wear it,” and my Orthodox Jewish grandmother would have wanted me to as well. And it turned out that seeing me wear a kippa on that video did something for an Israeli woman: a friend was sharing Messiah with her as his neighbor. She was intrigued with Yeshua, but couldn’t get over the stumbling block of thinking that he was a “foreign Christian.” She couldn’t get it that Yeshua came to extend the work of God from Israel to include the nations. She ended up watching my concert, and had an epiphany seeing this Jewish singer in the Old City of Jerusalem, sing about Yeshua with a kippa.
How can the Israel Today Community pray for you?
Pray for the next generation of families here in Israel. As a Jewish believer I came to help build the first floor. Others have built foundations. Others will continue to build, as we get closer to the return of Messiah. Pray for the children, that they would be lights in this country.