Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Catholic Church's Jewish cardinal

Mort Reicheck's blog continues. At eighty, this guy has a historical perspective that all should envy. Here he discusses Jewish ethnicity as distinctly different from faith. He makes reference to Messianic Jews who have embraced Christianity. I understand many Messianic Jews see themselves as completed Jews. As a Christian I rather like the notion. Thanks to activities in my younger days I think of myself as an honorary Jew as well.

The death earlier this week of France's Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger underscores the very sensitive issue of Jewish identity. The traditional Orthodox Jewish view is that some one born of a Jewish mother is a Jew, but that Jewish identity is erased if a Jew converts to Christianity or any other religious faith. The late French cardinal steadfastly challenged that view...

Lustiger, who was the archbishop of Paris until his retirement two years ago, was born to Polish Jewish immigrant parents in Paris. In 1940, after the German occupation of France, he was hidden with a Catholic family where he was exposed to and converted to Catholicism at age 13.
The ethnicity argument is that Jewishness is more than a religious faith. With a common language and written alphabet (Hebrew), history, tradition, and culture, Jews are also an ethnic group. Historical and geographic circumstances, however, led to the emergence of three separate Jewish ethnic sub-groups--Ashkenazim (European), Sephardim (Mediterranean), and Mizrahim (Middle East and central Asia)--all of whom possess these common characteristics.

Some would even argue that belief in Judaism as a religion is not necessarily a requirement for Jewish identity. The late Cardinal Lustiger obviously held this view...

Solid, short read.
Go learn something.


Anonymous said...

Hi, hoots,
I can identify with your feeling of being an "honorary Jew." I am a Christian too, but sang in a Conservative Temple choir in Miami a decade or more ago, and felt that I was learning much about the roots of my Christianity. At that time, I was Episcopalian, but now am Catholic, and I do not find Fr. Lustiger's sense of a "dual identity" the least bit strange. Why should those Jews who decided Jesus was NOT the Messiah, be more Jewish than those who decided that Jesus WAS the Messiah? Why should it not be possible to keep the Jewish law and the Christian law at the same time? Perhaps Fr. Lustiger did this. Who knows, did he keep kosher? He could have, and at the same time received the sacraments of the Church. Let us expand our ideas of the possibilities here. The Holy Spirit is present in the Old Testament and in the New -- can He not guide us to some reconciling insight here?
Thanks for writing what you wrote,

Hoots said...

Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. No matter what various authorities may say, the bonds between the two faiths are as clear and strong as the color of our eyes. The high school I attended was where Jewish families in that town sent their children. We couldn't have a meaningful band rehearsal on a Jewish holiday because so many were missing. My closeness with Jewish friends goes way back, including a couple of Messianic Jews, an interesting latter-day group that is regarded as Christian, even though many of them observe Kosher traditions and think of themselves as "completed" Jews.
I like the line of the Jewish leader who said "We can wait together for the Messiah and when He returns we can ask Him if he's been here before."