|Painting by Elfred Lee found at Elfred Lee Relgious Art.com|
Who is this Ellen White?
Artist Elfred Lee's Testimony of Rabbi Joe Kagan:
"I met Rabbi Joe Kagan at Weimar Institute in CA. His family had come from
Eastern Europe where his aunt had been raped while a priest stood over her
with a crucifix saying, "This is what you get for killing Christ." So you
can imagine the feeling of many Jews towards Christianity. American
Christians are not at all like Europeans.
His family moved to the US while he was young. At age 13 he debuted at
Carnegie Hall as a cantor. He had a beautiful, tenor voice. He received a
very high education and became a rabbi. I met him in his later years in 1978
after he had been on Ronald Reagan's staff in Sacramento as their research
man. If there were any questions about any subject, he was the one that did
the research and found the answers.
He had a very negative attitude towards Christianity. He would never touch
the New Testament. However, he knew the Jewish Old Testament (Torah)
extremely well as a highly educated rabbi would. One day he got hold of a
book called "Patriarchs and Prophets" by Ellen G. White. He read it with
astonishment and wanted to know who this Ellen White was. That is when I met
him. He was asking who is this Ellen G. White, and what university did she
attend. We told him she only had a 3rd grade education. "Then, where did she
learn Hebrew?" he asked. We told him that she never knew Hebrew, but was the
most prolific female writer in history and that this was only one of her
He was amazed at her knowledge, saying that the information in this book
(Patriarchs and Prophets) is Mishnaic. The Mishnah is part of the Hebrew
scholarship. He said the Mishnah had only been translated into English 30
years ago and that only high-level rabbis knew this information. This is the
history of my people and it is very, very accurate. He also said that you
have to know Hebrew to be able to write like this because her sentence
structure is not
English, it's Hebrew...The rhythm, the meter, the arrangement of words and
expressions are not English. He said it's as if she wrote in Hebrew and it
was translated into English.
My family and I developed a strong friendship with Joe, his wife and son.
As we studied the Bible and some Ellen White books together one day, he
said, "I am convinced that Ellen White was inspired by the same source that
inspired the Hebrew prophets. I want to become a Christian. I accept Jesus
Christ as my Messiah." Now, he would not have come to Christ through reading
the Bible. Even though the Hebrew Bible is full of prophecies pointing to
the Messiah, it took Ellen White's writings to prove to him that Jesus
Christ was the fulfillment of all the Hebrew prophecies. And only then did
he pick up the New Testament and read about his Jewish Messiah.
Many times I saw him cry. I was in the middle of a painting commission for a
large mural called "Christ The Way of Life" for the world headquarters of
the Seventh Day Adventist church in Washington DC. He became very involved
with that painting. The painting had originally been inspired by James and
Ellen White who had commissioned an engraver to do a black and white drawing
of the subject. He confirmed to me that Ellen White's concept was very
accurate on the whole plan of salvation in both the Old and New Testament,
but that the engraver had misrepresented her concepts. So he helped me in
many details to make the painting historically and theologically accurate;
especially regarding the sanctuary section, the Hebrew writing on the cross
and the last supper scene. He told me to paint Jesus and his disciples at an
oriental style table, sitting on mats on the floor - not Roman couches as
the medieval artists painted. Further, he said their heads would be covered
and he made sure I painted the wine, the unleavened bread and the bitter
herbs and their symbolism exactly as they would have been. He approved of
the whole painting and we had an unveiling ceremony at the Auburn SDA Church
in late 1979. He had written a song to go with the painting and sat at the
organ as we unveiled the painting. He wept as he sang the words of Jesus on
the cross quoting Isaiah, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" He sang and sang and
wept and wept, his whole body shaking. There was not a dry eye in the whole
church. His voice was so beautiful.
The original painting hangs in the new SDA world headquarters in Silver
Spring, Maryland where they have posters and Bible studies of the painting.
I could never have done it without the inspiration of Rabbi Kagan and Ellen
White. I wish they were still alive!
We were at his secret baptism in the Bear River above Sacramento on Saturday
night Dec. 22, 1979. There were four of us present. He could not even tell
his wife and son that he was now a Christian. As he came up out of the cold
water praising God and singing to his new Messiah, he said, "I am now a
completed Jew. I have now accepted the Old and New Testament and the Messiah
that all Jewish prophets told us about!"
I was recently in Europe giving some workshops on art and some of my
archeological work in the Middle East. I happened to meet a Jewish family
from Israel. Shalom David was originally from Iraq and his wife from Chile.
They were now attending a college in Europe where I met with quite a bit of
opposition to the writings of Ellen White. This Jewish family invited me to
their home for Shabbat (Friday night supper.) It was a most enjoyable
occasion as his wife and beautiful children sang and celebrated the arrival
of Sabbath as Jews have done for thousands of years. I told them the story
of Rabbi Kagan and he got very excited. He said, "The same thing happened
to me! I would have rather burned the Bible then touch it! I wanted nothing
to do with Christianity, but I also read the writings of Ellen White and the
Spirit of God was on that woman. Her writings are as if she wrote in Hebrew.
You can definitely hear the Hebrew rhythm, meter and expressions in her
books. I also believe she was inspired by the same source as the Hebrew
prophets. And she has helped me fall in love with Jesus Christ, my Messiah."
I just met yesterday with a rabbi living here in California - Rabbi Ben. It
was a follow up to a Sabbath meal I was invited to this last Sabbath with
him and a group of Adventists. He went through the whole ceremony at the
meal just like Rabbi Kagan and as my new friend (Shalom David) in Europe
had. So yesterday we were talking over Hebrew ceremonies and how they are
still effective in healing disease.
Rabbi Ben told me that he has also had the same experience. He hated the
Bible but that Ellen White brought him to Christ and helped him read the New
Testament and fall in love with the Messiah. He also told me that he had
gone to visit one of the most influential rabbis in America who is in his
90s who must remain unnamed. While in this rabbi's library talking, he was
scanning the many, many books on his walls and there he saw the book
"Patriarchs and Prophets" by Ellen White. Rabbi Ben asked him about it and
where he had gotten it, "Why do you have this book by a Christian author?"
The rabbi said, "This as a very authoritative source on our history."
I recently shared this testimony on T.V. at 3 Angels Broadcasting Network.
My phone has been ringing day and night by interested people from as far
away as India and Australia saying, "we want to know more about Joe Kagan
and Ellen White."
The book "Patriarchs and Prophets" can be found in any Adventist Book Center
or at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on old Columbia Pike,
Silver Spring, Maryland. Posters of "Christ The Way of Life" can be found