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      German Convert from Tel Aviv Wins Master Chef

      Israel’s next Master Chef is a former German Christian who converted to Judaism. He shared his story.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 1/30/2013, 9:54 AM

      Tom Franz's MasterChef victory
      Tom Franz's MasterChef victory
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      The Master Chef television competition concluded Tuesday night with the victory of Tom Franz, a 39-year-old lawyer from Tel Aviv. Franz beat out Jackie Azoulay, a 29-year-old religious woman from the hareidi city of Elad and Salma Fiyumi, a 27-year-old Arab woman who lives in Kfar Kassem.

      Franz has an unusual life story: he came to Israel in his 30s, after having been born and raised in Germany, in a Christian family.

      “One day I went to the hospital and asked to be circumcised,” he told Channel 2. “I felt like that was the first thing I had to do in this country.”

      As days went by, “I knew that I had, in fact, started a conversion,” he said. “From that moment, I started to observe the Sabbath and eat kosher food.

      “At first it was hard to deal with all the kosher laws, but I got used to it quickly,” he added.

      After converting Franz met and married an Israeli woman, Dana, from a secular family. “I was in shock,” she told Channel 2. “I realized that this person dreamed of being a Jew, and knows a thousand times more than me about Judaism.”

      “In a strange way, our connection led me to start keeping kosher and becoming more observant,” she continued. “After the wedding I started covering my head, and I decided that this is my path.”

      Arutz Sheva met the two at a bar mitzvah celebration for the son of Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. During the celebration dozens of young hareidi-religious men approached Tom with requests for autographs or pictures.

      Between requests, Tom studied the desserts. “I love the artistry in food,” he explained.

      After winning the competition Tuesday, Tom gave thanks. “Thanks to the Creator, I had a lot of help,” he said.