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Education

Son of Holocaust Survivors Receives Faculty Citation Award

03.10.2020

“What a shock, and thank you,” Dr. Michael Rydelnik said as he received the Faculty Citation Award in February. He has taught Bible and Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute for more than 25 years, and continues to host Moody Radio’s popular Open Line show.

The annual award is kept a secret until it is announced at the end of a tribute video played during Founder’s Week. But in this case, the first few seconds of the introduction left no doubt: Raised in an observant Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Holocaust survivors who celebrated his bar mitzvah at age 13 . . . well, who else could that be?

Overcome with emotion while watching his own life unfold on video, Dr. Rydelnik couldn’t stop the tears. A faculty friend leaned over while the video finished and handed him a tissue. “Here, wipe your face. No one wants to see you blubber,” she said, not unkindly.

“I was so touched by the whole thing, I was still wiping my tears as I went to the platform,” Dr. Rydelnik recalled. He managed to control the “blubbering” by the time he reached the platform with his wife, Eva, who also graduated from Moody.

The Moody Alumni Association presents the award to recognize faculty who exemplify a life of loyalty to Christ, honorable character, ardent service, and accountability to the Word of God. Given all of the faithful teachers who might qualify for such an honor, Dr. Rydelnik says he was surprised when his name was called.

“We have such great faculty, and I feel like there are so many who could have won this award, so many people who are deserving,” he says. And then he adds a small confession: “Eva is really the better teacher in the family. When she subs for me, the students like her better!”

Not having planned an acceptance speech, Dr. Rydelnik fell back on a verse from Psalm 115, something he memorized a long time ago: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.”

“I am grateful that He has allowed me to serve Him,” he said.

Dr. Rydelnik says he’s not ready to retire just yet. He still loves the classroom and appreciates how he has personally grown through the experience. “If I had it to do over, I’d listen more and talk less,” he says. “I’ve learned so much by listening to my students and hearing their questions.”

“And I don’t want to quit doing radio. It’s one of the things I love,” he says. He’s grateful for an audience of people from every walk of life, and he enjoys the challenge of teaching Bible truths in simple, practical ways.” You can listen live or to past programs by going to openlineradio.org.

He’s not old enough for a bucket list, not just yet, but he does have a few dreams.

“I’ve got some books to write,” he says, then fires off a tantalizing list of ideas, enough to keep him busy for another decade.

“I want to tell my own faith story in a book that gives a Bible exposition of messianic prophecies—the ones that convinced me to believe in Jesus,” he says. And something called 50 Common Questions about the Bible, and A Moody Handbook of End-Time Prophecy, and then maybe a book called Where Was God: Understanding the History of the Holocaust and the Problem of Evil. Then he pauses for a second to catch his breath and laugh. No, Dr. Rydelnik hasn’t run out of ideas!

As much as he loves teaching and writing, he ends with an ongoing goal that motivates his ministry.

“I live in a Jewish community and I want to keep on making friends with my neighbors and sharing the good news with them!”

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