Jean-Marie Élie Setbon, the son of non-observant French Jews, was first attracted to Jesus when he saw a crucifix at a young age. He hid a crucifix in his room and contemplated it often, even though he knew his family would be hurt and angry if they ever caught him.
Seeing the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur from his apartment window, he was drawn to the church, where he found himself powerfully pulled toward Jesus in the Eucharist. After several years of surreptitiously attending Mass, he resolved to convert to Catholicism in spite of the scandal it would cause, but God had other plans.
Upon graduation from secondary school, Jean-Marie moved to Israel to delve deeper into the faith of his ancestors. He lived in kibbutzim, learned about the history and religion of his people, served in the Israeli Army, and attended two different rabbinical schools. Eight years later he returned to France as an ultra-Orthodox Jew.
While teaching in a Jewish school, Jean-Marie married a woman who shared his faith, and together they began raising a family; yet his yearning for Jesus remained, becoming the source of a long and difficult internal struggle.
Jean-Marie’s moving and unusual conversion story is about his battle between loyalty to his identity and fidelity to the deepest desires of his heart. Above all, it is a love story between Christ, the Lover—the relentless yet patient pursuer—and man, his beloved.
Jean-Marie Élie Setbon was born in France in 1964 to mostly secularized Jewish parents. Mysteriously attracted to Jesus Christ since the age of eight, he began going regularly to Mass a few months before his bar mitzvah. After secondary school, he continued his search for God in Israel, where he lived in kibbutzim, served in the Israeli Army, and attended two different rabbinical schools. In 1989 he returned to France an ultra-Orthodox rabbi. He entered the Catholic Church in 2008 and is a lecturer and an educator specializing in theology and biblical exegesis.
Praise for From the Kippah to the Cross:
"An absolutely riveting story of how a non-religious Jewish boy, gifted with an irresistible attraction to the God of the Cross, delves deeper into his Jewish roots and becomes an ultra-Orthodox Jew with a 'secret' love for Jesus. Filled with twists and turns, this book will have you on the edge of your seat as you follow the heartfelt true story of a Jewish-Christian being led by God's providential love."
- Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, Author, Mary of Nazareth: The Life of Our Lady in Pictures
“A gripping, unspeakably beautiful account of a human soul intensely in love with and seeking God, and a God who is intensely in love with, and seeks us. Along the way the reader learns a great deal about how Jesus works in the soul, the many ways He reaches out to us, and the way that the Catholic Church is the ultimate fulfillment of Judaism’s love for, and longing for, the Messiah – Jesus.”
- Roy Schoeman, Author, Salvation is from the Jews
“Conversion stories touch the heart and mind deeper than a mere theology. They are theology put to story and song. From the Kippah to the Cross is such a story. It takes us soaring on the wings of eagles as Setbon’s story unfolds and and we glimpse the panorama and beauty of the whole story of salvation.”
- Steve Ray, Author, Crossing the Tiber
“From the Kippah to the Cross takes the reader on a remarkable journey. It is a witness to the persistent and transformative love of Christ, and gives readers valuable insight into the unique difficulties and questions of Jewish seekers and converts.”
- Holly Ordway, Author, Not God’s Type