Why focus on Judaism in a Jesus Class?

The opportunity to do a media project in a religion class is something that I wasn’t expecting to do. When we were posed with the topic and the opportunity to choose a form of media, I was a bit stumped. I love to write (obviously) but I’ve only flirted with creative writing. I’m not much of a poet, although I believe that prose can have poetic qualities.
To make it short, I wasn’t going to be writing a poem.
So I thought, and thought. I thought about doing something with ecumenism in Eastern Kentucky. Combining projects with Mission is something that I’m fond of (I’m doing it in one other class). However, then I remembered that we were asked to take this opportunity to learn something new, therefore my Catholic Mission experience wouldn’t be the best fit.
This is where Judaism comes in.
I’ve always been interested in Judaism. As a practicing Catholic, I like to learn where my own traditions come from. And, my Great Grandfather was a Jewish immigrant to the United States. My family doesn’t know much about him. He wasn’t a big part of my Grandmothers life. In fact, I don’t even know what his first name was (it may start with an H though).
Although I don’t know much about him, I do know that he is the only one of my great grandparents who wasn’t Irish Catholic. My Great Grandfather is the only person in my direct bloodline who didn’t practice Catholicism, and that makes him and his faith incredibly interesting to me. So for this project, I thought it would be really interesting to learn more about Judaism, and to learn about Judaism in terms of the Messiah.
Before our class on Judaism, I had never really thought about the Messiah in Jewish terms. For me, it was just that Jesus wasn’t it for the Jews. Prothero’s treatment of this topic was incredibly interesting to me. He touched on every subject from the roots of anti-semitism to reformed rabbis views of Jesus as a Jew.
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Now, for those who know me, I spend a lot of time in Hofstra’s interfaith center. It’s a small, cozy office in the Student Center. Catholic life and Hillel are the main offices in this quad. The two are very close and work together on different events. And in day to day life, they are great companions who laugh with one another.
Rabbi Lyle has agreed to help me out in my greater understanding of Judaism and the Messiah. I see him almost every day, so I feel comfortable asking him questions that may otherwise be awkward. We’ve been emailing back and forth for a few days now. I’ve given him my basic questions that will allow us to have a meaningful conversation.
Here are the two topics/questions that we’ll be focusing on in our conversation:
 1. Within Jewish tradition, what is the Messiah? Is the Messiah supposed to be a Great Prophet? A Savior? Is there a great emphasis put on this subject within Judaism today?
 2. How do different Jewish traditions view Jesus? Obviously he isn’t regarded as the Messiah, like in Christianity. Is he regarded as a prophet? A false prophet? Was he just a regular guy? Is he someone that isn’t talked about?
We’re going to actually sit down this Monday, April 20, 2015. AND he’s going to give me a book that will be helpful to my understanding. It’s on his bookshelf at home, so I don’t have the exact title yet. It should be good though.
I’m looking forward to learning more about this ancient faith and its understanding of the Messiah.
Thanks for joining me on this journey!
-Mary
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