Messianic songwriter and singer Joshua Aaron was born and raised in the United States but has made his home in Israel for the last eight years.
He lives in a small community outside of Tiberias, overlooking the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spent the greater part of His ministry years.
With his distinct smile and close-cropped hair – which he prefers to cover with a kippah – Aaron's musical videos have gone viral on YouTube with more than 120 million views and an average of 2 to 3 million visits a month. His version of “How Great is Our God / Gadol Elohai,” which he sings in Hebrew, reached more than 22 million views at the time of this interview. Aaron performed this song with Andrzej Lampert (singing in Polish) and Wayne Ellington (singing in English) at a concert before 3 million people in Krakow at World Youth Day which appeared on Polish television.
Aaron’s most recent project was a concert last April at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem where he was accompanied by musicians Shilo Ben Hod, Jamie Hilsden and Aaron Shust, who came from the United States. Aaron explained that the Garden Tomb – believed by many to be the site where Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion – was chosen as a symbol of the nation rising up from the “death” imposed on it by COVID restrictions, most of which have since been lifted.
The location was also selected for being a peaceful oasis in the midst of a busy neighborhood, Aaron said. Coincidentally, it was the same night protests by Palestinians at the nearby Damascus Gate broke out and the night before four Palestinians were arrested in clashes with the police. Aaron said many people opted not to attend the concert because of that, but 400 people still showed up and soldiers guarded the entrance.
In 2019, Aaron performed to a sold-out crowd at the Tower of David in Jerusalem in a live concert later released as an album that climbed to first place on the Christian album chart on Amazon and first place in World Music on iTunes.
Aaron, who has been recording for 13 years, said his goal is to make music that shares the Messiah. His own family story, for him, is a picture of God's restoration. Aaron's mother, Chana (nee Epstein) Brody Manarchuck – an Israeli born in Haifa in 1948 – was adopted as an infant and later moved with her family to New York. Decades later, Chana – along with Aaron and his sister Shoshana – were reunited with Chana's biological brother, Micha – on the air during a special Israeli television show. Chana had learned that her mother, Ruth Epstein, was a Holocaust survivor from Breslau, Germany (now in Poland following World War II).
Micha, who was 3 years old when the siblings were separated, said he remembered Chana as an infant and had always wondered where she had gone.
“I believe my mother’s story is a picture of God’s family. One day a great reunion will take place that will unite all believers,” Aaron has been quoted as saying. “This is the heart of Messiah as read in John 17:21 that we would be one… not a broken family but joined together as God has intended for His purposes.”
Before his death in 1983, Jewish evangelist Marty Chernoff was instrumental in bringing Chana to faith in Jesus. Aaron himself accepted Jesus as his savior at age 5.
Aaron often notes that he had an Orthodox Jewish grandmother and a Polish Catholic father and that all four of his grandparents came from Poland. Aaron recalls visiting his grandmother as a child and constantly being told to put on his yarmulke (traditional Jewish skullcap used during prayer).
“I was sort of annoyed by it when I was young, but later in life I was grateful for the reminder to stay connected to my roots,” he said.
The family celebrated the Jewish holidays at his grandmother’s house and attended mass with his father on Sundays. This Jewish upbringing influenced his move to Israel with his wife and children.
Challenges with the foreign culture and their initial struggles with the language drove them back to the U.S. for five years. But since 2015, the Aaron family has been back in Israel.
Aaron won the Independent Music Award in 2013 for the original song “Hoshiana” (Lament for the nations) and again in 2014 for the original song “You Are Holy.” In 2015, he won for the song, “He’s Coming Again.”
Aaron is currently working on the Garden Tomb concert album set to be released Sept. 25 in audio and video form.
Aaron is planning to promote the project by airing videos of the concert on American television during the Easter season.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.