The Inaugural Lifetime Sacrifice and Service Award read by Elliot Klayman at the Evening Service of the Annual Conference of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations Saturday July 25, 2009, and awarded by the President, Howard Silverman.
Rabbi Daniel Juster was the human architect of this Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. And at critical times he was the mortar that held this Union together from its beginnings. He possessed the vision for its formation, and facilitated its creation when he came together with the leaders of the congregations some thirty years ago. Dan saw a void on the canvas of Messianic Judaism - the need for a Union. He had the foresight to see beyond the individual components that the movement was, and into the corporateness that the movement was to become. Dan envisioned a union of congregations molded together by the need for a structure that would enfranchise the diversity of leadership throughout the U.S., Canada and the world. He assisted in providing the cohesiveness, and the mutual support for which corporate venture was lacking. He seized on a model that was to define this organization for the long-term - the delegate structure. Through this structure it was obvious that his was not a grab-for- power, but one that would truly put the direction of the movement in the hands of the leaders of the movement; and one that would respect the individuality of the local congregation. The Union was to be the dynamic interrelationship of congregations through their delegates who would be a voice for the future of the congregational movement that was then erupting. There had never been such an organization in the messianic movement. Dan co-conceived and co-organized the pre-formation meetings in 1978-79 in Chicago, which employed focus groups for various committees - education, worship, constitution. The rest is history.
In 1979 there were no fewer than 21 fellowships/congregations in North America and 19 of them responded to the call to come to Chicago to launch this venture. Gathered around Dan were men like Jeff Feinberg and John Fischer, Paul Liberman, Elliot Freeman and Ron Pfeffer, who were working together to fill the lacunae in the movement that was apparent to them.
Dan was the first president of the Union and held that office longer than any subsequent president, seven years from 1979-1986. As our first General Secretary, he insured the success and the survival of the organization in its early years by his fundraising and his ideas for further development of the organization. He also was the Secretary of the Union from 1992-96 and all remember suffering through the minutes that he produced those four years. He has been the theology chair and the yeshiva chair of the organization, and was really equipped to serve wherever he was needed most and always responded. Most of all he has been throughout the life of the Union a pervasive voice for reason and temperance.
No founder finds alone, but needs the support of others with encouragement in order to bring the object into focus. Patti Juster was there with Dan as a faithful spouse who prayed the unit through the hardships and vicissitudes of ministry in the early days, and continues to co-labor with Dan in a worldwide vineyard. Together they labored in the fields at Adat haTikvah, where Dan was the Rabbi in the early1970s, and then for the 22 year stretch at Beth Messiah in Rockville, Maryland. Together they suffered the lessons of leadership and the tragedies of success that seem to always befall those whose lives are fitted for the master on the hot anvils of indefatigable devotion to a right and just cause. Together they struggled for the movement to birth to maturity. Together they survived the death of their son, Samuel who has a heavenly seat for this event, whom we remember this evening as rejoicing in the presence of the one to whom we aspire; and to whom the mystery of the ages is now revealed. Together they rejoice in seeing their son Ben as Director of Operations of Tikkun Ministries, International, and in the nachus that he and his wife Lorena have supplied through their children. Together they rejoice in their daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Chad, who leads a messianic congregation in Memphis, Tennessee, and also in the grandchildren that they have supplied. Together they rejoice for their daughter, Simcha and her husband Jonathan, for their labors and ministry in Israel and for their progeny to come.
When Dan formed Tikkun International Ministries, dedicated to the restoration of the Church and Israel, in 1991, there was concern that this would dilute his interest in the Union; and that it would drain valuable resources from our organization. This turned out not to be the case as Dan continued to demonstrate his unselfish devotion to the cause of unification of the movement. This devotion is also manifest in his work with Toward Jerusalem Council II and the desire to see reconciliation between Messianic Jews and the Historic Church. He is tireless for the cause and one avenue to the goal of reconciliation is education. Toward that end Dan co-founded the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute that makes sure that leaders in various cultures are exposed to messianic teaching throughout the world, regardless of their financial ability.
Dan has authored a number of significant books that has helped keep the Union in high profile because of his continuing association with the Union and the widespread distribution of these works. They include: Growing to Maturity, Jewish Roots, The Dynamics of Spiritual Deception, Biblical Due Process and Jewishness and Jesus. In addition he has placed articles in various outlets: the Messianic Jewish Alliance Quarterly, Kesher, Mishkan, People of Destiny, Christianity Today, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society and others. He is an acclaimed speaker and teacher, which has taken him to various platforms and venues including Trinity College (Deerfield, IL), the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations Yeshiva, Messianic Jewish Theological Institute, colleges in Korea and Brazil, and the Messianic Jewish Bible Institutes in Odessa, Ukraine, and Budapest, Hungary. He is currently an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary, in Pasadena and The King's Seminary in Van Nuys California.
Dan's vision is not a domestic vision but a worldwide vision and the U.S. could not contain him. He moved to Israel several years ago and to Florida where he is on the six and six program - six months here and six months there. Israel and the U.S. messianic movements are the beneficiaries of this program.
For 37 years Dan Juster has been laboring with the intensity of a man who knows his mortality and the preciousness of time, working unceasingly in the vineyards of messianic Jewish patches, sowing and planting and watering and discipling and training and modeling. If I were to describe Dan in one word, I could not. But in a phrase, "Dan is a man who is passionate for peace and for justice and reconciliation through Yeshua in a ‘world gone mad.' " It is his idealism that fosters and fuels a new generation of messianic believers, equipping them for the ride ahead through his teachings and books and display of character and simply, his example. We are all enriched because of Dan whether we know it or not or whether we admit it or not. For all of this it is fitting and proper to bestow upon Dan Juster for his work, both inside and outside the Union over a lifetime, the first Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations Lifetime Sacrifice and Service Award. May we rise in recognition of a special man in our midst whom G-d chose to use in special ways. I ask Dan Juster to come forward with his wife Patti by his side. I now return the podium to our President, Howard Silverman, to confer the award.