Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rabbi Daniel Zion tz"l, Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria

The way I have heard it explained Rabbi Daniel Zion tz”l began searching out our Mashiach before the war while still in Bulgaria. According to Rabbi Shulam of Netivyah this had become “a well know secret” in that community. Because of his piety and stringent observance, the Rav was never openly challenged regarding his beliefs while he lived in Bulgaria’s capital city. Eventually Rabbi Daniel approached the head of the Greek Orthodox community in that city. Archimandrite Stephen tz”l encouraged the Rabbi to seek out Yeshua but emphasized that he need not, as an observant Jew, feel any obligation to become entangled in any non-Jewish religious establishments.

After the war, Rabbi Daniel and most of his community relocated to Eretz Israel where he continued to act as the chief Rabbi of his people in Yaffo (Jaffa). In 1954 Rabbi Samuel Toledano invited him to be a judge in the rabbinical court of Jerusalem and rumors began to spread that Rabbi Zion was a follower of Yeshua. Rabbi Toledano, who at the time was Israel’s chief Rabbi informed him that he could live with his position as long as the Rabbi would not express this belief publicly (Shulam). Rabbi Daniel could not agree to those conditions and was asked to stand before a beit din. Retaining his dignity before Mashiach, the Rabbi was legally removed from his position. Nevertheless the Bulgarian Jews of Yaffo continued to recognize Rabbi Daniel as a rabbinic authority. Rabbi Daniel Zion led his community praying in a synagogue on Yeffet St. until October 6, 1973.

Below is a story which was related to me regarding the chasidei Yeshua of Rabbi Daniel’s community.

It once happed that a call was made by some opponents of the Rabbi’s community. Authorities had been falsely alerted that this group was one of “missionaries” and that they were converting Jews to Christianity. Police arrived on Shabbat to bring congregants in for questioning. One man in particular seemed non-compliant and unwilling to obey the officers when asked to leave the building. When he was forced from the synagogue he began weeping and crying pleading with the officers not to take him. The police assured the man that they didn’t intend him any harm and were only going to drive him in for some simple questioning and to sign some documents. All the more the man, with tears streaming down his face, pleaded that they not do such a thing. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” the man insisted. He was trembling. The officers couldn’t understand his fear and they continued to assure him of his safety. As they approached the vehicle he became frantic. Becoming increasingly irritated the officers demanded an explanation. Calming just enough to speak, the man explained that he had no intention of being difficult when he was asked to leave the synagogue but that he simply wanted to finish his prayers and that even now he was not afraid for his own safe keeping but for that of the holy Shabbat. The man explained to the non-religious police officers that he had never taken a car on Shabbat and that he could not be expected to desecrate Shabbat without a struggle. Turning towards each other the officers rightly concluded that this man could in no way be a Christian or missionary. The members of the community were allowed to return to their synagogue and their service. This man remains a faithful follower of Mashiach, residing in The Land until this day.

For more information about the life of Rabbi Daniel Zion including a description of his involvement in saving the Bulgarian Jewish community from Nazi deportation follow this link to Rabbi Shulam’s informative article. The above images include a photo of Rabbi Daniel Zion. Dimitar Dimitrav of Sofia, Bulgaria requested and obtained the digital image from a museum in that city. Thank you for all your help. Also included above are pictures taken of a siddur Rabbi Daniel produced for his Sefardic community. On the title page of the siddur the sub-title תפלת דניאל, Tefilat Daniel (Prayer of Daniel) is given, this is perhaps a bit of a play on words, both a reference to the Rabbi's name and to that of the prophet who calculated the arival of Mashiach and turned his prayers towards Jerusalem.


Pastor Steven said...

That's interesting how the Archimandrite did not try and get Rabbi Daniel to become Orthodox. Some Christians are of the understanding that one must leave their Jewish beliefs behind to become a true followers of Yeshua.

But at the same time I think that we Christians need to ask ours selves, if we have not drifted to far from the Jewish moorings of the Christian faith. Any way good post!



Tim Layne said...

The Bulgarian Orthodox church was very unique. When the Nazis were attempting to deport Bulgaria's Jews, Clergy from the church led groups of Christians in laying their bodies across the train tracks and stopping the activity. Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived in peace in Bulgaria.

Rob P said...

Very interesting! I think I have heard of Rabbi Daniel Zion but maybe because its such a great name :)

Tim Layne said...

Something dawned on me this morning after rereading this post and the comment towards the bottom of the article regarding the sub-title of Rabbi Daniel's siddur, "Tefilat Danitl" or Prayer of Daniel. I wrote that this is perhaps a play on words implying a connection between Daniel HaNavi and Rabbi Daniel. It seems to me now that this must be the case. I recall reading that when Rabbi Daniel stood before the biet din (rabbinical court) he powerfully stood as a witness that Yeshua was the Mashiach of G-d and concluded his testimony with a stern warning saying,“And to you, Rabbaim, be it said: ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel Upharsin!’” (Weighed in the balances and found wanting.) This is a quote from the book of Daniel.

Pastor Steven said...

I have enjoyed reading about Rabbi Daniel, what a true servant of Yeshua. It has been great learning about Jewish followers of our Mashiach. And that there were Christians standing against the Nazis in Bulgaria in those days.

Oh, thanks for the heads-up on ArtScroll. I have ordered and received a transliterated linear copy of the tehellim/psalms. As I already pray the Psalms daily. I thought that would be a good place to start.



Tim Layne said...

That's really great. If and when you do also purchase a siddur (prayerbook) I would love to discuss its content with you.

Debs said...

Thanks for sharing this! I found it really encouraging, as a Jewish believer, feeling somewhat distant from my heritage at the moment, to see how this Rabbi stood so boldly for Yeshua, while maintaining his Jewish heritage so strongly.

Anders Branderud said...

Quote: “ if we have not drifted to far from the Jewish moorings of the Christian faith.”

I want to comment on this.
Le-havdil, A logical analysis (found in ( is the website of the only legitimate Netzarim-group)) of all extant source documents and archeology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

The original words of the pro-Torah teacher Ribi Yehoshua were redacted by Roman Hellenists, and the redaction is found in the “gospels”. J…. is described in the “gospels”, and le-havdil the teachings of the historical Torah-teacher Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth are found in the reconstruction (using a logical and scientific methodology to create the reconstruction), Netzarim Hebrew Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM).

The historical Jew Ribi Yehoshua is not the same as the Christian "J...." The historical Ribi Yehoshua was a human.

The above website proofs that the roots of Christianity are Hellenism, not Judaism.

Tim Layne said...

Anders, I don't think you understand what I believe; besides this you have a great deal to learn, although I know you think yourself to be well educated on the issue. Challenge my ideas if you like, but please challenge what I have written rather than giving broad statements about the speculations of your teacher and the history of the Church. Let me debate the points of our disagreement and we will both learn together.

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