Born in New York and raised in Miami with conservative Jewish parents and a religious grandfather, artist Shoshana Silver found her own path to Yeshua in 1978. Her journey exemplifies how the Good Shepherd seeks and saves the lost and those seeking him — even though the person himself doesn’t yet know it.
As an art student in university, Silver applied for further study, but unbeknownst to her at the time, God had blocked her entrance into many of the universities she preferred. Meanwhile, a private art teacher of hers, who had no idea about Silver’s applications, was impressed with her work and, as a fellow alumni at State University of New York at Albany, she offered to talk to the chairman of the art department there for Silver. Silver headed to the university with her portfolio and was accepted on the spot by the chairman based on the merit of her work.
Albany hadn’t been on Silver’s radar at all, but she accepted. Little did she know that God had a plan.
“During my studies in Albany I found myself in severe crisis and couldn’t paint at all. I was in pieces, and had no idea what to present for my finals,” she told KNI.
At the same time, another art student named Tanya — a believer — gave up her own art studio to share Silver’s. Though Silver didn’t want to, she agreed to share her studio. Eventually the two became friends and Silver noticed that Tanya’s encouragement and love was making a difference.
“After four months … I started to paint again,” she said.
Tanya would read scriptures and pray in the background while Silver painted.
Another person, Bonny, would frequently visit Tanya and after a visit would go from depressed to happy – even laughing joyfully as she left.
“I was jealous,” Silver said.
She approached Tanya to ask more about her beliefs. “‘You know something that I don’t,’” Silver said to Tanya. “‘Feel free to tell me, if you want.’”
Eventually, Bonny became a believer in Yeshua, but Silver insisted she didn’t need to believe in Yeshua in order to be happy.
It was afterwards when another friend, who was Jewish, visited Tanya that got Silver’s attention — and provoked her to greater jealousy. She heard the friend say she’d see Tanya on Sunday for church.
Reacting with jealousy, Silver called out, “I’ll see you on Sunday too!” But when Sunday came, Silver was torn.
“I’m Jewish, and Jews don’t go to church!” she said. “I called Tanya to cancel, but she answered in her typically calm tone: ‘If you change your mind, I’ll come over to you and go with you in your car, and sit with you through the service.’”
Astonishingly, Tanya and her parents went out of their way to bring Tanya to Silver so she could accompany her to church.
“Their kindness overwhelmed me,” she recalled. “I was even more overwhelmed when I walked into the church: There was a great big cross right in front of me! ‘Oy,’ I said, sat down and kept silent the whole time. I stayed only because her parents invited me for lunch.’”
Later another friend invited her to a Bible study, telling me that the teacher was Jewish and that he was also going to demonstrate a Passover seder night. Silver was curious as to how a seder would be demonstrated without food so she decided to check it out. The teacher and his wife talked about the symbols of Pesach (Passover). They lifted the matzah, showed the holes, spoke about the afikoman, about the three pieces and about breaking the middle portion. They hid the afikoman.
“I remained indifferent,” Silver said. “‘So what? I thought. ‘My grandfather used to do that.’ But each of those symbols was like an arrow straight to my heart. When the teacher finally broke the matzah, he said, ‘Crushed for our iniquities.’”
“All of a sudden, in one go, the veil was removed from my eyes,” Silver said.
She called out to Yeshua: “‘Everything they told me about you all my life wasn’t true,’ I said. ‘It wasn’t true, and I cannot deny You any longer!’ From that moment on, I knew there was no turning back.”
The change was evident in her countenance.
“People came up to me and said ‘something happened to you,’ but I didn’t answer. I didn’t want to talk about it,” she said. “When I got in the car, Tanya understood something happened. I told her, ‘If God wants me to give up my brushes, I’ll do that.’ Tanya, who knew painting was my life, understood at once.”
Silver continued living in Albany for several years after completing her master’s degree in order to build herself up in the faith. From there she returned to Miami Beach and joined a Messianic congregation.
Several years later she toured Israel.
“I could see the scriptures coming alive before my eyes,” she said. “I took in all the sights and all that we learned from the Bible. During the two years following those tours, I came to realize that the Lord was calling me to return to Israel, the land of my fathers.”
Silver moved to Israel in 1995, settling in the North and in one of the congregations there. She worked as an English teacher, painting in her free time. In 2004, she moved to South Korea for a year to teach English in a public school. She ended up staying for six years and returned to Israel in 2011.
Since then, she has been painting full time.
“I like to create light in my painting, by the method of utilizing oil colors,” Silver described. “My wish is that the paintings will be a blessing to anyone who looks at them.”
Silver’s oil paintings include stills, landscapes, portraits, Judaica and worship in prayer, praise and dance, all according to the Lord’s leading. She sells her art, both originals and prints, on the web and personally, and will be happy to respond to any questions. More of Silver’s art can be seen on her website.