Lecture to tell journey from pastor to rabbi

Rabbi Jack Parisi
Rabbi Jack Parisi

Jack Parisi, an evangelical Christian pastor who became a rabbi, will speak as part of Chabad of Tucson’s 2013 lecture series on Sunday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Young Israel.

Parisi’s life-changing journey began when he and his wife, Sally, co-pastors of a church in the Bible Belt of southern Oklahoma, were attempting to understand the roots of their faith.

“There were so many doctrinal discrepancies and so many unanswered questions,” Parisi told the Jewish News in New Jersey, where he now lives. “With no one to turn to, we searched the Torah for answers.”

Along with the Parisis, their congregants started keeping Shabbat. The church’s main symbol was eventually removed, although not without challenges and threats. The Parisis converted to Judaism in 1998.

“We were told by our rabbis that now is the time to tell our story of commitment and mesiras nefesh [self-sacrifice] in order to inspire all Jews to increase their own commitment to Yiddishkeit,” says Parisi, who was ordained as a rabbi in October 2010.

“It is important to us to make the beautiful Jewish people realize the gifts they were born with — the one true God, the true living Torah and each other,” he says.

Rabbi Yossie Shemtov, regional director of Chabad of Tucson, says “The message of this lecture is most fitting, coming from the holiday of Shavuot when the Jewish people were entrusted with the keeping of the Torah.”

Admission is $18. RSVP at www.ChabadTucson.com/RSVP.