Joseph Shulam was born in Sofia, Bulgaria on March 24, 1946 to a Sephardic Jewish Family. In 1948 his family immigrated to Israel just before the establishment of the State. Joseph grew up in Jerusalem. While in high school he was introduced to the New Testament and immediately identified with the person of Yeshua. Joseph’s fascination with the teaching of Yeshua eventually brought him to faith in God and the Messiah. This caused his family to reject him. As a result of that rejection he traveled to the United States and finished high school in Dasher, Georgia. After a short study in Michigan Christian College, he returned to Jerusalem and enrolled in the Hebrew University, there he studied Biblical Archaeology and Bible. From the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Joseph returned to the United States and studied New Testament and Chemistry in David Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. There he met Marcia Saunders and after a short courtship they were married.
Upon his graduation in 1969 they immigrated to Israel and started a congregation in the Tel-Aviv area. In 1972 Joseph entered an Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva (Rabbinical College) in Jerusalem. He studied in the Yeshiva for three and a half years. After Rabbinical Studies Joseph returned to the Hebrew University and studied History of Jewish Thought during the Second Temple period. In 1981 Joseph and the small fellowship that was started in his house established one of the first official non-profit organizations of Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in Israel – Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry. Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry purchased the building on Narkis Street in 1982 as the congregational home. This was the first time that a Messianic Jewish Congregation had their own building and not an inherited protestant church.
Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry is dedicated to three major goals:
- Building bridges of understanding between Israel and the nations, between Jews and Christians, through the Restoration of the First Century faith of the Disciples of Yeshua.
- The study, research, and teaching of the New Testament in light of the Jewish Context and Roots, and publication of materials and books related to the Jewishness of the New Testament.
- Aid and help with the needs of the Jewish Disciples of Yeshua and the poor of Jerusalem by humanitarian assistance and food distribution.
Joseph has lectured extensively around the world and has assisted in encouraging Disciples in countries like, Finland, Germany, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, United States, Spain, Portugal, China, Hong Kong, Egypt, Italy, France, Holland, Japan, Korea, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Switzerland, and of course Israel.
Joseph has two children, Barry and Danah, and two grandchildren, Joseph and Noaam. Joseph speaks seven languages, Hebrew, Bulgarian, English, Ladino (Spanish), German, Arabic, and French.
Joseph has written and partnered in writing the following books:
- Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Romans
- Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Acts
- Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Galatians
- Hidden Treasures: The First Century Jewish Way of understanding the Scriptures
- Planted in the House of the Lord: God, Israel, and the Church.
- Starting a Messianic Jewish Yeshiva
- Speak Tenderly to Jerusalem
Netivyah’s goals remain the same as they always have been. Currently there are two major tasks Joseph is working towards. The first is the remodeling and expanding of the Netivyah Building after finally triumphing in a long court battle for the permits. This remodeling will produce for the first time in two thousand years a Synagogue of Jewish Desciples of Yeshua in Jerusalem. There is a great need for the financing to complete this project. The second project is the restoration of the Marrano Jews from Portugal and around the world back to the Jewish fold and to the land of Israel.