Alexander (Sasha) Bolotnikov received his PhD in Rabbinic Literature and the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, OH. He holds a MPh in Hebrew and Cognate Studies and a MA in Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He served as a professor at the Zaoksky Theological Seminary in Tula Oblast, Russia.
Sasha aspired to be a renowned communist nuclear physicist and he always considered himself to be a communist. After all, his grandfather had been a colonel in the KGB, his parents had encouraged him to participate wholeheartedly in all of the Party’s youth activities, and he himself planned one day to be a nuclear physicist, designing missiles to help defend the Motherland.
Over time, however, Sasha’s dreams came crashing down around him. After attending a Communist Youth summer camp, he began to question what happened to Lenin’s socialistic utopia. In school, he learned that he was a Jew, and dealt with a teacher’s anti-Semitic torment. The very system that he loved and supported turned on him, denying the specialized training he sought. All because of one little word stamped in his passport – Yevrei, Jew.
That’s when Alexander decided to find out his real roots and what it means to be a Jew. Determined to learn why so many people hated the Jewish people, Sasha returns his Jewish roots. While Sasha studied at Kiev State he continued his search, digging deeper and deeper into Jewish thought and tradition, and into the Old Testament, He learned that his uncle was a rabbi, and decided to study in a rabbinical seminary. While he continued his search to find real meaning in life, his path crossed with those of many other interesting characters, ranging from Satan worshipers to Christians.
The friction and tension grew until he met with a group of Pentecostal Christians. He was surprised when they didn’t consider him an enemy because he is Jewish; instead they embraced him and encouraged him to study the Bible with them. Sasha had many questions about just what God wants from him and his life. While he has not found all of the answers we are grateful that he is willing to teach what he has learned, and therefore grateful that he is director of Shalom Learning Center.
Pastor at Plantation Seventh-day Adventist Church
Pr. Olaf Clausen
Olaf Clausen has served as a Bible teacher and pastor for nearly 20 years. He is currently completing his MA in Pastoral Ministry from Andrews University Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan and is a graduate of and curriculum developer for the Shalom Learning Center.
Pastor Olaf serves the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada as Jewish Ministries Liaison and Program Coordinator for the Shalom Learning Center (Canada). He currently serves the Red Deer SDA Church in Red Deer Alberta as Senior Pastor and is the former pastor of Beth Tehillah Vetikva Jewish-Adventist Congregation in Camrose, Alberta.
Cause our hearts to understand, to discern, to comprehend, to study and to teach, to observe, to act and to fulfill all the words of Your Torah in love… ~ SIDDUR, AHAVAH RABBAH