Mark Hardie
Founder, Chairman, CEO of "The Taylor Swift Party" | Attorney | Army Veteran

Returning to the Jewish King: My Return to Judaism


Barack O. Mandela, who served in the IDF and US Army, at Golani Bezeq base near Jenin. (From Barack Mandela’s Personal Collection)

In December 1995, I converted to Reform Judaism at Temple Beth Israel-Judea in San Francisco led by Rabbi Herbert Morris. Next, in May 1997, I converted to Orthodox Judaism at the Rabbinical Court of Los Angeles led by Rabbi Abner Weiss.

Afterwards, from 2000 to 2002, I served as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the fierce battles of the Second Intifada. While in the IDF, I became a follower of Zionism and Zionist religious beliefs. I was influenced by fellow soldier, Avraham Tau and his father, Rabbi Tzvi Tau.

Once I was honorably discharged from the IDF, I spent 9 months studying in Machon Meir Yeshiva (Academy) in Jerusalem where I studied Zionist philosophy. I learned about the strong spiritual connection between the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I was a member of the nationalist Likud political party.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks shocked the people of America, I decided to return to the USA to protect my home country from the horror of political violence. I left Israel to protect the freedom and democracy of America.

After returning to the United States, I enlisted in the United States Army where I underwent combat training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Due to my military service, I became an American nationalist and a patriotic member of the Republican Party.

Barack O. Mandela, serving in the US Army, at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas in 2008. (From Barack Mandela’s personal collection)

As time went by, I started to drift away from Judaism and Torah. Eventually I stopped attending synagogue services, and I ceased many Jewish practices. I even took down the ‘mezuzot’ from the doors of my living space.

I began to dabble and experiment with many different beliefs and philosophies such as: Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Scientology, Christianity, Atheism, faith healing, African spirituality, and pagan beliefs. I began to ‘play around’ with different belief systems.

Although I still considered myself Jewish, I no longer followed Jewish laws, practices, or beliefs. I also lost contact with my friends still living in Israel.

Recently, however, I came up with a unique new year’s resolution for 2023. I have declared 2023 as the “Year of My Return to Judaism”. In summary, I am reestablishing my spiritual connection to the Jewish faith, Jewish people, and Israel.

I affixed a kosher ‘mezuzah’ to my front door. I attended Shabbat service at the local synagogue. I contacted several of my old friends living in Israel.

Then, I wrote letters to Rabbi Dov Begon, the head of Machon Meir Yeshiva (Academy) in Jerusalem. In my letter, I thanked Rabbi Begon for having been my mentor and role model. I am thankful to  have studied under his leadership and guidance.

I also wrote a letter to Midreshet HaRova college for women in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. I am thankful to this special school for inspiring me to become a better person. In the year 2000, I met several inspiring and prayerful women from this holy school.

Today, I feel like I am converting to Judaism again. I feel like I am ‘born again’ into the Jewish world. I have been listening to Jewish music regularly such as: Yaakov Shwekey, Benny Friedman, Avraham Fried, and Ohad Moskowitz.

I consider God Almighty to be the eternal and infinite ‘King of Israel”. Therefore, I am literally “returning to the king”. I was the ‘lost sheep of Israel’ wandering in the wilderness. I was distant from the holy path of Judaism.

Now, I am a strong Jewish man who is passionate about building the Jewish nation, strengthening Jewish families, and drawing closer to the divine Creator known as “HaShem”.

May the Source of peace and blessings continue to strengthen me on my journey towards the King of Zion.

In the near future, I hope feature films and documentaries are produced about my powerful Jewish journey.

About the Author
Licensed Attorney. I earned a Doctor of Law at the University of California Law San Francisco (Hastings) . I earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside. I was an international student at the University of Costa Rica Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law, and Bar Ilan University. I am a military veteran of the United States Army. I am a laureate of the National Defense Service Medal from the Pentagon. I am a financial donor to following: Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, Berkeley Law, Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, UC Hastings College of the Law, UC Davis Law, Columbine High School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy, Sidwell Friends School, Viewpoint School, Beverly Hills High School, Eton College in the United Kingdom, Special Olympics, Children's Defense Fund, Obama Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Barbra Streisand Foundation, Princeton University, Florida A&M, Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the British Red Cross. I am former special assistant and staff attorney to Governor Pete Wilson of California. I was public affairs assistant to US Senator Barbara Boxer. I was public affair assistant for Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert and Jerusalem spokesperson Haggai Elias. I am a former member of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. I am a member of the American Legion and Jewish War Veterans.
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