Jesus Today!

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Our conversation ended with Jewish-Christian relations today, and how the relationship has changed over the past 50 years.

We focused on Catholic-Jewish relations because we were a Catholic and a Jew talking about our relationship. We spoke about Vatican II and the covenant not being broken between God and the Jewish people in the eyes of the Catholic Church. We spoke about how this was a great help in the relationship between Christians and Jews.

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Prior to our conversation, Rabbi Lyle held a mock passover seder with Father Greg and his community at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. He told me about how he can walk into a church today and not feel fear the way that he would have 50 years ago. I heard a lot about this sedar and how great of a teacher Rabbi Lyle was for the Domus Porta Fidei community. Father Greg spoke with me about how important this event was for our community:

I think it’s important that Catholics have a clear understanding of the rich patrimony given to us by our Jewish brothers and sisters and a thorough understanding of the Eucharist can only come through an understanding of the Passover. Both events are simultaneously historically relevant and transcendent events.

Father Greg perfectly summed up why I decided to do this project. Catholicism is so tied to its Jewish roots. Rabbi Lyle told me about how he could walk into the Church and admire its beauty. He can admire the stained glass, the gold, and the chandeliers.

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I really enjoyed learning about this subject. I think that it was very eye opening. I didn’t know much about the Jewish view of the mashiach or the Jewish view of Jesus. I think that I have a much greater understanding of the world around me, especially the world of the Interfaith center.

Until next time,
Mary

Jesus and Fear

When we spoke about Jesus, Christian Jewish relations were bound to come up in conversation.

I had a basic idea of how the Jewish-Christian relationship was pre-World War II. It was much more tense than it is now. Rabbi Lyle explained to me how there was a great sense of fear for a Jew when he or she saw a cross.

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We spoke about a scene in Fiddler on the Roof. I’ve never seen this play, and I’ve never seen the movie. So, I tried to find the scene online, and was unsuccessful. But Rabbi Lyle told me that this movie is a good depiction of the way it used to be. He spoke about a particular scene where one of the daughters walks into a church for the first time. The music becomes very dramatic, and her eyes fill with fear. This is they type of reaction that was typical of the time. A Jewish person walking into a church would have felt fear. We spoke about the medieval thinking that Jews were continually putting Christ to death because of their non-belief in him. We spoke a little bit about Blood Libels, and the inclusion of that in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. 

This part of our conversation was really interesting to me, because we don’t really talk about this stuff in school. Yes, we learned about the holocaust in high school, but we didn’t learn about what led to it. I didn’t learn about that until college, where I took a class on the holocaust. I learned about blood libels because I took a specialized class on The Canterbury Tales. 

Rabbi Lyle gave me a new perspective on Jewish-Christian relations. This is a view that I probably wouldn’t have understood without his help.

In the next post, we’ll talk about Jewish Christian relations in todays world. And then we’ll wrap everything up!

4 Days until Graduation!

-Mary

The Jesus Question

So, as my mid-way post, I think that it’s appropriate to finally talk about the Jesus Question. Obviously, this was the center of our conversation. Everything else stemmed from this question. My questions about the mashiach and my questions about Jewish-Christian relations all stem from this question:

Who was Jesus?

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This is what I said in my Blog Post on Prothero’s chapter “Rabbi:”

I found this chapter really interesting. Jewish-Christian relations are something that I have always been interested in. Learning about it from the Jewish perspective was something new for me. I didn’t realize that many Jewish people would completely shun the idea of Jesus all together. I mean, I haven’t had much contact with people who practice Orthodox Judaism. The way Prothero explains it, it seems like those who practice Orthodox Judaism were most averse to idea of accepting Jesus as a Jew. The Reformed Jewish perspective was really interesting though. I can however, see how it would rub some people the wrong way…The reformed rabbis took up the position that Jesus was a Jew. He was a Jew. Not only that, but he was the ideal Jew. He was actually practicing Judaism in the way it was supposed to be practiced. I think that any well-informed Christian would agree with the reformed rabbis new ideology. I find it really interesting the way that this came about and the way that it affected the dialogue between Christians and Jews.

I wasn’t expecting to get the type of answer that we read about in Prothero. And I didn’t. Rabbi Lyle was very concise and made his answer very simple for me. Although he is a reform Rabbi, he did not align his beliefs with the rabbi’s that Prothero writes about.

Rabbi Lyle told me that for him and most other Jews, it’s not theology (like it is for me,) it’s history. Just like Abraham Lincoln was a historical person, Jesus was a historical person. We didn’t go into detail on whether or not Jesus was a false prophet. To be honest, I think we both wanted to stay away from that path. Rather we talked about whether or not Jesus would have performed the miracles attributed to him in the Gospels. The short answer for Rabbi Lyle was no.


Then we began to talk about Jewish-Christian Relations, which I won’t go into too much detail here, but will begin to explain:

For many Jews, for many years, images of Jesus would have instilled fear. As a Christian living in the modern era, this is hard to comprehend. This is where we began to talk about anti-semitism and how our culture has changed since World War II. I’ll go into more detail in my next post about what we spoke about and how Rabbi Lyle was able to relate all of this to me.

-Mary

Conversation: The Messianic Age

I feel like my entire conversation with Rabbi Lyle was really interesting. The Messianic Age was yet another topic that interested me from our conversation.

Essentially the mashiach will usher in the Messianic Age. This is basically an age of peace and prosperity. I think this is one of those things that is distinctly Jewish. When Rabbi Lyle and I began to talk, I hadn’t heard of this before. It made perfect sense though. It didn’t take many questions for me to understand this concept within our conversation. This was true especially after I was able to take my own beliefs out of the conversation.

But then I learned more. So, Rabbi Lyle is a reform rabbi. He decided to give me his perspective on this age and on the mashiach. Now, I’m not an expert, but I’m going to try and recount what we spoke about. Basically, within reform judaism, there isn’t necessarily going to be a maschiach. The messianic age will be ushered in my acts of goodness done by ordinary people. I found this really interesting. I had never heard of this concept before.

Now, I haven’t been able to speak to Rabbi Meir yet. But Rabbi Lyle suggested that I get his take on traditional Judaism and the messianic age. Rabbi Lyle did however give me an overview of traditional Judaism’s view of the mashiach and the messianic age. Traditional Judaism prays three times a day for the coming of the maschiach. There is a messianic fervor in todays society (probably because of Christianity,) but overall most Jews probably don’t think about this subject on a daily basis.

We spoke a little bit about messianic groups within Judaism. We didn’t go into any great detail on this subject though.

Next time we’ll talk about Jesus (finally)

-Mary

Conversation: The Anointed One

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but there was one main reason why I decided to pursue this topic. One thing that blew my mind in class was the fact that within Judaism, the Messiah is NOT supposed to be Divine. Obviously, this blew my mind. Growing up in a Christian mindset, I just kind of assumed that the Messiah was always supposed to be a divine being, like Jesus is for many Christians. Well, I was wrong.

This is where Rabbi Lyle and I decided to begin. He came prepared for me with some references that I would be able to look at in more detail. For that, I am grateful. It’s a good refresher (especially since it’s been a couple of weeks).

Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 8.26.03 PMBasically, the concept of the Messiah developed over time. Scholars believe that the concept of the Messiah was introduced during the age of the prophets. Scholars believe this because the Messiah is not mentioned anywhere in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). However, traditional Judaism holds this tradition to be true. The 13 Principles of Faith, which is essentially the most widely accepted list of Jewish beliefs, holds the Messiah to be a fundamental part of Judaism.


However, unlike Christian belief, the Messiah is not to be a Savior. He is not supposed to be a superhuman, or a divine being, but rather a human. This is where my class started to intersect with the conversation. In the resources that Rabbi Lyle gave me there is a good quote that I think sums up this notion:

The word “mashiach” does not mean “savior.” The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word “messiah” that this English word can no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept. (jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm)

Another point that we spoke about was the lineage of King David. Basically, in Jewish thought, the mashiach will be a descendant of King David, and will be a great leader like King David. Rabbi Lyle also told me that there have been many “anointed” people throughout Jewish history. Many Kings were “anointed.” So, in a sense, there have been many mashiach(s) (I don’t know how to make something plural in hebrew). In the resources that I was given, there is a section about who the mashiach could be. Here is what it says:

It has been said that in every generation, a person is born with the potential to be the mashiach. If the time is right for the messianic age within that person’s lifetime, then that person will be the mashiach. But if that person dies before he completes the mission of the mashiach, then that person is not the mashiach. (jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm)

Overall, our conversation went really well. There was one thing that I was trying to be conscious of, and that was the tense I used when asking questions. As a practicing Catholic, I believe that Jesus is the anointed one. When asking questions, I tried to be conscious to use the future tense rather than the past tense.

In my next couple of posts, we’ll look at some other parts from conversation, like:
– The Messianic Age and Reform Judaism
– Reform vs. Traditional views of the Mashiach
– The Jesus Question
– Jewish-Christian Relations

Talk to you again soon!
-Mary

Interview Numero Uno

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Rabbi Lyle and I had been emailing, so he had my main questions before our meeting.

Yesterday, I was able to sit down with the Reform Rabbi on Campus. Rabbi Lyle and I spoke for about an hour, and I took about three pages of notes.

He came prepared with materials for me to take home. There were two articles from Jewish sites that educate Jews (kind of like Catholic Answers for me) and there was a book written by another Rabbi about the Messiah in Reform Judaism.

One thing that I found particularly interesting from our conversation was the teaching of the Messianic Age rather than a traditional Messiah in Reform Judaism. I’ll be exploring that more so in another blog post.

Tomorrow, I have the privilege to sit down and talk with Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Meir also works with Hillel on campus, and he is a Modern Orthodox Rabbi. I learned so much from Rabbi Lyle, so I’m really excited to sit down Rabbi Meir.

After my conversation with Rabs (Rabbi Meir) I’ll be able to better plan out how I’m going to break up this topic. I feel like I could write a book with the information I have already learned, but I’m excited to get another opinion and to see another way of teaching!

-Mary

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