Etz Chayim-Tree of Life Messianic Congregation was founded in 1995 by Sharan and Mordecai Silver. Sharan and Mordecai still lead the congregation which is located in Las Cruces, NM.
Sharan, whose Hebrew name is Rut or Ruth, is the Rebbetzin, Davidic Dance teacher, chooses the music, Hebrew teacher and Bar and Bat Mitzvah teacher as well as the Administrative Assistant to Rabbi Silver. Mordecai is the Spiritual Leader and Rabbi of Etz Chayim. They have led the congregation since its inception. They have two grown children and three grandchildren, who all reside in Las Cruces.
Mordecai and his wife Sharan are assisted in leadership of the congregation by Paul Gasser, who serves as Elder, and his wife Barbara. Paul and Barbara have three children.
Michael “Mordecai” Silver is the Rabbi of Etz-Chayim Tree of Life Messianic Congregation located in Las Cruces, New Mexico in the south-central part of the State of New Mexico. He moved there in 1993 with his wife Sharan and their two children.
Mordecai Silver was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania into a Jewish family and was raised in Conservative Judaism attending synagogue and Hebrew school. He was raised in the Jewish customs and traditions and lived in Jewish areas of the city. In 1976 Mordecai came to the understanding that Yeshua was the Messiah of the Jew as well as of the Christian. He accepted Yeshua as his Messiah and thereby began a journey that would take him into Messianic Judaism and then into the Church and then back to Messianic Judaism and finally into the Whole House of Israel.
Some may ask why Mordecai and not Michael? In the Ashkenazic or European Jewish tradition the child is given two names, one English and one Hebrew. Following this tradition the author was given these two names.
Mordecai started his ministry in 1995 with the planting of a Messianic Jewish congregation in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The congregation started out as a home group and quickly grew but there was hesitancy on the part of many in the group to study their Hebraic or Jewish roots. Mordecai then parted from the group and followed what he felt what God's leading and started up a Messianic Jewish congregation following the traditions and customs of the Jewish people.
Over time as he studied the scriptures he encountered a problem. The problem was that in almost all cases that the term Israel was used it was not referring to the Jewish people alone. Being raised Jewish the author had always been taught that being Hebrew, Jewish and Israel were all one and the same. But as Mordecai continued to study the Scriptures the veil that had been placed over his eyes was slowly being removed and he saw that Israel was not Judah alone. That there was more to this than he had been taught.
Then several years back he came across the teaching of the two houses of Israel. Finally he saw some of the truth that been hidden away and entered into a new phase in his spiritual walk as part of Judah and as part of Israel. God has been blessing the congregation and drawing in those who are becoming part of those who are one in Messiah and Torah observant. Mordecai views the two house teaching as that, a Biblical teaching, that speaks to the equality of all Believers in Messiah and Torah.
Mordecai had received smicha or ordination as a rabbi from a Messianic Jewish organization in 1996 but when the truth of the equality of all Believers was revealed to him he encountered resistance from his Messianic Jewish brethren. After requesting his Messianic Jewish brethren to refute the unity teachings from Scripture, the only response he received was “to go talk to the other rabbis.” After prayer and seeking the counsel of his congregation Mordecai resigned from the Messianic Jewish organization and joined with a different Messianic organization where he received smicha or ordination. Mordecai has since resigned from that organization and now devotes his time to his congregation and a ministry outreach called Tree of Life Messianic Ministries that offers help to new groups and leadership.
While being rejected by his Jewish brethren for being a Believer in Yeshua now Mordecai was being rejected by his Messianic Jewish brethren for daring to accept non-Jews as equals. The Church, for the most part, deals with Mordecai with an arms length approach.
As one who has been raised in the traditions, customs and beliefs of traditional Judaism Mordecai has been able to bridge the gap between Jews and non-Jews. He has been placed in a unique position by the Father, because of his upbringing as a Jew and then as a Believer in Yeshua who traveled the road through Christianity and then into Messianic Judaism. This journey has given Mordecai an understanding of both Judaism, Messianic Judaism and Christianity that he has been able to use in reaching out to Judah and and non-Jews and showing them the problems in each one of the belief systems while being able to guide them to the Whole House of Israel.
Mordecai has appeared several times on Light of the Southwest, a prime time program, shown by Prime Time Christian Broadcasting out of Midland, Texas that reaches into the Southwest region of the United States. He has had the opportunity to share the truth of Torah and Yeshua and is now working to get the truth of the Two Houses out.
Mordecai has been married for over forty-two years to Sharan, a Believer in Messiah Yeshua since 1975. They are indeed living examples of Judah and Ephraim. They have two children. Both of their children were a blessing from God as they were adopted from Korea as babies and they are both now adults. Mordecai and Sharan also have three grandchildren. They have all been a blessing from God. On their 30th wedding anniversary Sharan and Mordecai renewed their vows in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony and Sharan had her Bat Mitzvah, thereby joining herself to Judah.
Mordecai is the Director Tree of Life Messianic Ministries which handles Mordecai's books and DVD set. Mordecai is the CEO of JSI – Judaic Studies Institute and Chancellor of JSI University where the training of leaders for Yeshua and Torah is the core function of the institute with locations in the United States and Australia with new locations coming. JSIU is a distance learning school with a satellite location location in Chicago, IL under the guidance of Rabin Deborah Brandt. JSIU has an accredited course from Associates to Ph.D., or you can obtain certificates in individual subjects.
Mordecai has a program on Saturday morning, afternoon and evening on HRN – Hebraic Roots Network. Check their schedule for the time. Mordecai airs his videos from his congregation on Facebook, You Tube (on two stations) and Google+.
Paul was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents were Presbyterian, yet Paul would attend Jewish Day care and summer camps. Paul moved to Durango, Colorado when he was 7 years old. He graduated from Durango High School and attended Colorado State University on a full ride football scholarship. He graduated from CSU in the spring of 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine. Over the next 10 years, Paul’s life would have its ups and downs, from the birth of his two older sons, to being in the World Trade center when it was struck by the airplanes on 9-11.
Soon after, Paul began his study of Torah. He devoted himself to the Scriptures in study and in lifestyle. Being from a Jewish family (Ashkenazi) the Torah came easily to him and once he put Yeshua and Torah together, he felt complete. For 10 years, Paul would study Torah for hours each day. He would read about what the Jewish sages taught and was even the leader of a Messianic Jewish group in Colorado. He is now working towards his Rabbinical ordination through JSI along with a Master’s degree in Jewish Studies.
In 2012, Paul moved down to Las Cruces, New Mexico and began attending Etz Chayim. He continued studying Torah under Rabbi Silver, as he found that Torah and Messiah were both taught there. Towards the end of 2013, Paul was asked to lead some Bible studies, and stepped in for Rabbi Silver when Rabbi needed to be gone on Shabbat. Also, in 2013, Paul met a wonderful woman, Barbara, and the two were married by Rabbi Silver in July 2014. Paul knows Barbara is a gift from God and her support of him is very important. He is also a proud father of triplets.
Paul continues to challenge people and their mindsets at almost every Bible study, asking them to show why they believe, what they believe, by using Scripture. He also learns from the others present and grows in his walk weekly.