Doreen Wachmann speaks to a man who converted 7,000 people to Christianity
OCTOGENARIAN Calev ben Avraham was once the chief European evangelist for the Seventh Day Adventists Church of God, being responsible for 7,000 conversions to his faith in places as far afield as Burma, the Philippines and India.
Now this convert to Judaism, who is currently suffering from heart problems, shares his time between Eilat and Jerusalem, writing books prophesying the advent of the Messiah to the Jewish people.
So what was it that drew this enigmatic man, who tried most Christian denominations, to finally espouse Judaism and want to save and heal Jews?
Calev was born into a family of Marranos in the Low Countries of Europe. Wanting to put his pre-Jewish past behind him Calev would not specify in which country he was born.
But he did tell me that as a child he lived during the Second World War in Preston and London.
His parents, he said: "erased all Judaism from their lives and raised me as a Roman Catholic".
But he said: "I was a very nosy guy. I wanted to know everything. I didn't accept the fact that they were bowing down to images of stone. I searched almost every sect that existed.
"I was with Methodists, Protestants and Spiritualists and Seventh Day Adventists Church of God. I did the whole works.
"If you ask questions you get excommunicated. I was very disappointed with Christianity.
"Eventually I came to the conclusion that we have to go back to the source, which is Judaism. I was 57 when I turned to Judaism."
During his time as a missionising evangelist Calev admits to having converted one Jew to his version of Christianity.
In hindsight he now says: "When the very rich Jew with a taxi company converted he lost everything. Hashem was punishing him."
The more Calev studied of Christianity the more he came to the conclusion that what he was teaching was "against Hashem's way".
He went as far as to label the very Christianity which he used to missionise to so many others as "the greatest Satanic lie which is believed by millions of misguided people all over the world".
The miracle of the re-gathering of the Jews in their biblical land proved to Calev that God had not abandoned his chosen people as Christian doctrine taught.
But it took Calev 10 years to convert to Judaism.
He said: "They pushed me away all the time. They didn't trust me because they knew I was an evangelist. When I was depressed from my religious search I went to an Ashkenazi synagogue. But I didn't get anywhere with them."
Living by this time in Israel, Calev was recommended by his kosher butcher to see a Sephardi rabbi who referred him to Rabbi Meir Malin, the head of Knesset Yehuda Yeshiva, Jerusalem.
He said: "He treated me as his son. I lived with him till I found an apartment in Kiryat Arba. When he passed away I had a lot of pain."
After working for 12 years as a salesman near the Cave of Machpela, Calev says that he was inspired to write books opening up the prophecies of the book of Daniel to the world.
Living in Eilat in the winter and in Jerusalem in the summer because of his second wife's health, Calev is optimistic that the Messiah is on his way.
He says: "It can happen any day. This is a time for the Messiah to come when the Arab world is turning against each other and when energy like oil will cease to exist. There will not be a two-state solution.
"It was prophesised 3,000 years ago that all the miracles that happened in the past will be re-enacted for the whole world to see. You have to have large screens TVs for that to happen."
Calev claims that many miracles that happened during the Six Day War were not recorded.
He said: "A group of soldiers were ordered to clean a minefield at night. A great wind came that revealed every mine so they could detonate mines without being harmed. Not one soldier was killed."
He reckons that when the next war comes, the nations of the world will not be able to harm Israel with their tanks, aeroplanes or bombs.
Calev also claims to be a healer having kept alive, with God's help, a cancer-suffering neighbour who, three years ago was given only months to live.
But both Calev and his wife are currently in poor health, but Calev is still hopeful that the Messiah will come in his lifetime.
He refused to have his picture with this article, saying: "I don't want a photograph. I do not want to be idolised like the Lubavitcher Rebbe."