In Memory of Rabbi Betzalel Budoff, 1950 – 2014
Our friend and colleague Rabbi Barry (Betzalel) Budoff passed away unexpectedly the evening of July 25, as he prepared to celebrate Shabbat with his family. The entire UMJC community joins with the Budoff family, and with his home congregation, B’nai Maccabim in the Chicago area, in mourning their loss. Rabbi Betzalel was a pillar of our community, and a true friend and mentor to many. Baruch dayan emet. Blessed be the true judge.
Betzalel Budoff was raised in a Conservative Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York, and accepted Yeshua as the Messiah at the age of 23.
He was soon confronted by anti-missionaries, who raised many questions to which he hadn’t yet come to have answers. The resulting confusion, which came from the emotional and pressure-filled meetings with these anti-missionaries, caused him to renounce his newfound faith. Shortly after he began to attend Yeshiva. During his studies, the scholarly background that he lacked when originally confronted started to form, as did a renewed interest in questions concerning the Messiah. Now, however, he was able to approach and answer these questions from a traditional Jewish perspective. The prejudices he was expected to have against Yeshua disappeared, and in their place the truth about Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel began to take form again. The more he investigated the subject of the Messiah from the Yeshiva’s own resources, the more firm his conviction became that Yeshua truly does fulfill the Scriptures concerning the person and coming of the Jewish Messiah. As a result, Rabbi Betzalel renewed his faith in Messiah Yeshua.
Rabbi Betzalel worked for a number of years with Chosen People Ministries, and in 1980 he moved to Los Angeles, where he served as the Rabbi of Ahavat Zion Synagogue. He was in Los Angeles for 11 years, and during that time also served on the Executive Committee of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), as its recording Secretary and as General Secretary. In 1991, Rabbi Betzalel moved to Chicago, where he served as the Rabbi of Adat HaTikvah for six years. At the end of that time, he started a ministry called D’vehkut, and began to develop materials for use in Messianic Synagogues. He also began attending Congregation B’nai Maccabim. Late in 1999, Rabbi Betzalel translated and published a Messianic Jewish Siddur, which is in use in a number of Messianic Synagogues around the country. Then, in January 2001, Betzalel became the Rabbi of B’nai Maccabim, where he served until his untimely death. He also served on the UMJC Steering Committee as Midwest Regional Director. Rabbi Betzalel was a dear friend, mentor, and valued colleague to many within the UMJC and the wider Messianic Jewish community, whose warm and optimistic presence will be greatly missed by all. His many contributions to our community will stand as a memorial of his dedication to his family, to his community, and to Messiah Yeshua.
Rabbi Betzalel is survived by Dyann, his wife of over 35 years; his two daughters, Hadassah and Chyah; and his grandson, Aaron Israel.
Adapted from www.bnai.org.