Charles Andrew Schonberger 1841-1924
Schoenberger was born into an orthodox Jewish family in the town of Mor, Hungary, one of a large family of ten children. His childhood was happy, and his family life close knit.
One day, when Charles was 18 years old, he visited the sick father of a schoolmate. The older man asked him to read aloud from the Sermon of the Mount. Charles had never before seen or read the New Testament, and he found it fascinating. On a following visit, he met Israel Saphir who lived in the same building. Israel invited Charles to his apartment and began to teach him from the Bible. Charles left with a New Testament of his own, and began to study it diligently. Eventually he confessed that he did believe in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.
Charles stayed with the elderly Saphir until the Lord took him home. He then went to the Mission House at Bale for a year, and afterwards to London, where he attended classes in the English Presbyterian College, for a session. He next went to Germany, and completed there his theological studies, under the direction of Professor Franz Delitzsch, who took an intense interest in the Jews and in Jewish missions. Schonberger finished his studies in 1868, and went for a year or two to Pesth to assist Mr. Koenig and Mr. Moody.
In 1871, at the age of 30, Charles married Israel Saphir’s youngest daughter, Johanna. Perhaps after the inevitably severe persecutions and trials he suffered as a result of his profession of faith, it was a comfort to him to be adopted into the Saphir’s warm family circle.When married he was settled in Prague, where he remained till 1884 in connection with the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews. Later he moved to Vienna where he succeeded Dr Isaac Salkingson. He spent much time and effort combatting the prevalent anti-semitism in Austria. In those years, he had the joy and privileging of leading two of his brothers to faith. His elderly mother-in-law joined her daughter there, and lived with the Schoenbergers until her death in 1879.
Schonberger was closely attached to the Rabinovitch movement in Russia, having the privilege to baptise three of the Rabinovitch daughters; and he assisted Rabbi Lichtenstein in Hungary. He was a lifelong friend of David Baron, with whom he co-founded the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel.
From 1921 the Schonbergers settled in Berlin where he continued to preach the Gospel to his people. A deep personal tragedy struck in those years, when their only child, a daughter, died.
Schonberger died in 1924 at the age of 83. The motto “Christ and Israel, and Israel and Christ are inseparable” (I Cor. 13:13) is engraved on his tombstone.
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. Keren Ahvah Meschichit, Jerusalem. New edition 1999
Carlyle, Gavin. Mighty in the Scriptures: A memoir of Adolph Saphir. New York.
Gartenhaus, Jacob. Famous Hebrew Christians. Baker Book House, 1979.