No, Not I - A poem by Holocaust escapee, chief rabbi, and Messiah-follower Daniel Zion

The chief rabbi of Bulgarian Jews during World War II, Daniel Zion, never converted to Christianity. He never had a formal baptism into a new religion. He never stopped keeping Torah. He never lost his identity as a physical and spiritual Israelite. He never lost his Jewish identity.

Yet this man who helped Jews escape the Holocaust -- a man who suffered Bulgarian persecution from so-called Christian anti-Semites, and received public floggings from Nazis during the occupation of Bulgaria -- was a man who loved Yeshua as the Messiah of Judaism after a personal revelation of Yeshua to him.

When Nazi Germany occupied Bulgaria without shooting a single shot, Rabbi Daniel Zion as the spiritual leader of the Jewish community became the object of persecution and ridicule. Daniel was taken and publicly flogged in front of the Great Synagogue of Sofia. During these times Rabbi Daniel walked upright before the fascists and his only reaction was to call upon God.

When there was talk of shipping the Bulgarian Jews to Germany, Rabbi Daniel and his secretary A. A. Anski wrote a letter to the King of Bulgaria. In this letter Rabbi Daniel begged the King in the name of Yeshua not the allow the Jews to be taken out of Bulgaria. Daniel wrote in this letter that in a vision, he had seen Yeshua tell him to warn the King from delivering the Jews to the Nazis. After a long ordeal of waiting many hours at the door of the King's palace in Sofia, the Rabbi and his secretary were able to deliver this letter to the King's secretary. On the next day the King was going to Germany for a meeting with the Nazi Government and Hitler himself. King Boris of Bulgaria stood his ground against Hitler and did not submit to the Nazi pressure to deliver the Jews from Bulgaria to the death camps of Poland and Germany.

By that small miracle, Daniel and many Bulgarian Jews survived the persecution and the Nazi occupation.

After the war in 1948, the state of Israel was recreated after nearly 2000 years. Daniel and many Bulgarian Jews emigrated from then-Communist Bulgaria to Israel.

When in 1954 Rabbi Samuel Toledano became the chief Rabbi of Israel, he invited Daniel to be a judge in the Rabbinical court of Jerusalem. When the rumors started to fly that Rabbi Daniel Zion believed in Yeshua, Rabbi Toledano invited Rabbi Zion to his office and asked him personally about these rumors. Rabbi Daniel explained to Toledano his position. He explained that he accepts Yeshua as the Messiah and he does not accept Christianity as the true expression of the teaching and person of Yeshua the Messiah. Rabbi Toledano said to him that he can live with this position as long as Rabbi Daniel will keep it to himself. When Rabbi Daniel said that he did not think that such a message can be kept a secret, Toledano was forced to take Rabbi Daniel to the Rabbinic court, and allow the other Rabbis to decide what should be done.

In the Israeli Rabbinic court, after evidence of Rabbi Daniel's faith in Yeshua the Messiah was presented in the form of four books that Rabbi Daniel had written in Bulgarian about Yeshua, the right to speak was given to Rabbi Daniel. Here are the words which Rabbi Daniel Zion spoke in his own defense:

I am poor and feeble, persecuted and vulnerable, Yeshua conquered me, and with the New Man he honored me, He delivered me from the poverty-stricken self with his great love, he cherished me.

Every day the canny devil aspires to grab my faith, I hold on to my encourager, and chase the devil away. I stand here alone in my faith, the whole world is against me. I give up all the earthly honor for the sake of the Messiah my mate.

The Rabbinical Court striped Rabbi Daniel from his Rabbinical Title, but the Bulgarian Jews continued to honor Rabbi Daniel as their Rabbi. A Russian Jew who was one of the early Zionist settlers in Rishon LeZion, and had become a "believer", had given Rabbi Daniel Zion a building on Yeffet St. in the heart of Jaffa for a Synagogue. In that Synagogue Rabbi Daniel officiated until the 6th of October 1973. In this Synagogue Rabbi Daniel Zion did not often speak of Yeshua openly, but many times he brought stories and parables from the New Testament. However, each Sabbath after the Synagogue Rabbi Daniel would bring home a group of his fellow worshipers from the Synagogue and they would study about Yeshua and from the New Testament all the Sabbath after-noon until they would go back to the Synagogue to say the evening prayers.

Many Missions, Missionaries, and Christian Societies, visited Rabbi Daniel Zion in his Jaffa home. They wrote many articles about him, and at rare occasions would even offer him large amounts of money for the use of his name in their ministries. In every case Rabbi Daniel rejected their offers. He did not want to destroy his witness with the people of Israel for a handful of dollars. If any one would give him some free-will offering without any strings attached the Rabbi would accept it and pass it on to charitable organizations of the blind, or to orphans and widows. He himself lived in abject poverty. There was nothing in his own house that was of value and he would never lock his home.

Rabbi Daniel Zion wrote hundreds of songs about Yeshua the Messiah, Sabbath, and the good life.

Rabbi Daniel's major contribution to the Messianic Judaism is his personal example. He lived 100% Jewish lifestyle, and was 100% follower of the Messiah Yeshua. He did not compromise faith for neither money from the Christian missions, nor did he succumb to the pressures of the chief rabbinate.

In 1979 Rabbi Daniel Zion departed to be with the Lord in a ripe old age of 96 years. The Bulgarian Jewish community of Israel gave him full military, and state honors. His bier stood in the center of Jaffa with a military guard and at noon was carried by men all the way to the Holon cemetery on foot. He was buried as the Chief Rabbi of Bulgarian Jews who saved them from the Nazi holocaust. A true Jew in every sense, a man who stood up against fascism, the Nazi's, anti-Messiah Jews, and anti-Jewish Christians. Yeshua was his savior and friend and until the last days of his life Rabbi Daniel Zion lived up to the poem that he wrote with the acrostic of his name, Daniel Zion the Servant of God.

His poems survive to this day. Below is one of Daniel's poems, set to music by the Messianic Jewish music group Meha Shamayim.

No not I, No not I, only you are Yeshua in me!

Only you bring me before the God of my fathers,

Only you can heal me from every evil illness,

No not I, No not I, only you are Yeshua in me!

Only you teach me to love all creation,

Only you teach me to love even the enemy,

No not I, No not I, only you are Yeshua in me!

For this reason I will stay in your love,

For ever will I be within your will,

No not I, No not I, only you are Yeshua in me!

Daniel Zion's poem: No, Not I.mp3

Credit for most of this post is due to Joseph Shulam's article on Rabbi Daniel Zion.


  1. "Yeshua in you, my hope of glory."


    All glory to the Father!


  2. Hey, I'm back. I've a question to pose to you after chewing on this a bit. It goes back to my adopting traditional holidays and calling Jesus by His Hebrew name rather than the name I have know Him by all of my life and intimately by for over 30 years. Do I need to give up my identiy as a Gentile? I keep thinking about it and culture is so ingrained into our identity that I don't think it can be fully accomplished. Not in this life anyway. For instance, if I start saying Yeshua, I will always deep inside be thinking, Jesus in my own language. (thank you for the audio by the way, now I at least know how it sounds when pronounced correctly. I've been trying and I still can't do it.)

    My next point is really the rub for me. As a Gentile believer in Christ Jesus, I have been made holy apart from the Law. For me that means that my new nature does not run contrary to the Law (which I've been spending a lot of time reading lately). The Law is what I desire and through Jesus, I believe I probably 'keep' the Law as well as the most common Jews. It seems to me that you come at Grace from the perspective of the outward being correct while the inward spiritual observance is wanting outside of Christ. In you, it is fulfilled when you accepted Jesus/Yeshua as your Messiah. I come at it from completely the opposite direction. I was a complete heathen and when I accepted Christ, I was changed and my feet set on another path entirely but the Law and the Ordinances for me are confirmation and affirmation of Christ in me.

    Aren't bot a marvelous work of God? Isn't my own cultural identity important in giving God His glory?


    p.s. This isn't to argue but to learn.

  3. Hey again Pam,

    Regarding Messiah's name, I think it doesn't matter a whole lot, honestly. If I call Messiah "Jesus", he knows I'm talking to him. Personally, I choose Yeshua over Jesus simply because that's his original name. If you choose to call him Jesus, I wouldn't be offended or think any less of you.

    Pam, you asked, "Do I need to give up my identity as a gentile?"

    My answer is you should drop your identity as a worldly, godless person. When you believe in Messiah, you come to know the God of Israel. You're no longer a godless, worldly, humanistic member of the nations. Instead, you're a godly, righteous child of God, a member of his chosen, grafted into Israel and the promises given to Abraham.

    That does NOT mean you're a Jew, or that you need to become one. We need to make a distinction here: Jews do not comprise all of Israel, neither physically: Jews are about 1/3 of all physical Israelites, nor spiritually: Paul says not all Jews are true Israelites.

    Paul makes it clear in Romans when he says that some natural branches -- Jews -- were broken off the Israel tree so that you, a wild olive shoot -- gentiles -- can be grafted into the tree. This is how Jew and gentile are one in Messiah: we have been grafted into the same tree, the olive tree of Israel. Where previously only physical Israelites, God's chosen, could come before God, now Messiah has opened up all the things of God to the gentiles, resulting in no distinction to God between Jew and gentile, we're on equal footing now. And what a grand opening it has been -- 1/3 the whole gentile world knows the God of Israel - WOW!

    You may think, "Jeez, that seems unfair: Jews don't have to change their identity, but gentiles do?"

    The reason is, we Jews had to change our identity already. The word Hebrew means, "one who crosses over". Our ancestor had to cross out of the world long ago. We had to cross over out of Egypt long ago. God gave us a set of righteous commandments that makes us distinct -- set apart, holy -- from the nations. We already changed our identity.

    Gentiles, on the other hand, have not had this experience. You come straight out of the mess of the world. It is God's desire that we, both Jews and gentiles, live holy before him, and so gentiles must also leave behind the world's ways -- it's ungodly traditions, it's practices, it's holidays, it's standards -- and replace it with God's ways, God's holidays, God's standards.

    So, while Jews need to open up to Messiah, gentiles need to abandon the world's ways in favor of God's righteous ways. I believe God is doing both right now, and I think we are both evidence of this.

    I hope I've addressed your questions. Let me know if I missed anything.

  4. Thanks, Judah. Actually, you confirmed much of what I've been thinking. I do wish I knew more about olive trees. I think I would have a clearer image in my mind. I keep thinking of fruit trees and how some growers will graft in various types of apples into one tree. All the branches take sustenance from the same root but each branch bears a different kind of fruit. However,they are all apples. I don't know how wild olives differ from a tended olive tree. We have Russian Olive trees here but I don't know if that is the same as a wild olive.

    Anyway, I probably think too much!LOL!

    It is exciting to see God bring different people together in Christ. I can't wait until there is true peace in Israel and all the world is brought together in Him.:0)


  5. What an amazing story.... I wish I could have met this Rabbi...

  6. Judah,

    This is off topic, but I have no other way to ask the question. I know that the Muslims celebrate Ramadan during the Sept-Oct time frame. They also refer to it as God's holy month.

    Someone I know had a conversation with another person about this topic in regard to Jewish faith. I guess my question is; is there something in the Bible or Jewish tradition about one month being more holy than the any of the other months, in God's eyes?

  7. Gary, no, not that I'm aware of, there is no holiest month in the Hebrew Bible to my knowledge.

    Now, the Day of Atonements/Judgements (Yom Kippur) is the most solemn day of the year. You can read about that in Lev 16:

    This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or an alien living among you- because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments 33 and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.

    It is the only time in Scripture we're commanded to "deny ourselves" (some translations say, "fast").

    Yom Kippur often falls in September in the western calendar, so perhaps some Jews believe that month to be holier than any other. However, I've never heard of this tradition..

    As far as Scripture is concerned, I'm not aware of anything in Scripture where one month is more holy than another; instead, the only holy times are God's 7 holidays: Unleavened Bread, Passover, First Fruits, Pentacost, Booths, Atonements, Tabernacles, and of course the weekly Sabbath.

  8. Shalom, Shalom. Just stopping by to let you know that because of this blog I totally purchased the "Meha Shamayim" CD and... I love it. :) Thanks for posting.

    I'm Nat, btw.

    Be blessed.

  9. Shalom Natalieh,

    Glad you like the music. I'm into Messianic music and I've found their music to be some of the best out there.

    Nice blog by the way, I'll be subscribed.

    Blessings in Messiah Y'shua.