On February 3rd, Rabbi Joe Charnes joined Pr. Annabelle for an interfaith Scripture Study looking at Psalm 71:1-6 and Luke 4:21-30. We learned about the beauty and richness of chanting/singing the psalms by singing in Hebrew and discussing the emphasis of the words of this prayer. Looking at Luke 4, we discussed the tension between Jesus/Christianity and Pharisees/Sadducees/scribes/Judaism that seems embedded in the New Testament. How do we hear these texts in their contexts, acknowledge the ways they have been used in anti-Judaic or anti-Semitic ways, and think about how these texts might sound to our Jewish brothers and sisters? We had some 40 people in attendance and here are some of their reflections:
“I was so impressed by the Rabbi’s knowledge of New Testament. I did not realize how much Psalms referred forward to New Testament. As I listened to the Rabbi, in how he described the “Rest” of the Sabbath, sounds like today’s advice of being ‘mindful and present’. I have started reading the Psalms, I have been reading the New Testament for a long time, and I have a new outlook on reading Psalms. It was an enjoyable morning class.” – Carol G.
“I learned that we don’t put enough expression into our Psalms. They are beautiful gifts to us and we need to feel them internally when we are reading them. I learned that you have to dig deep into the scriptures and find the different ways they are linked and I am not very good with that at this point.” – Sherry F.
“(What did you learn about the Psalms?) That the notations before our verse 1 are important. (What did you learn about how we read our own Scriptures?) That when we read the Scriptures it is important to do so with meaning; just saying the words is ineffectual.”
On February 8th, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation and Community Lutheran Church partnered together for “Soul of the Sabbath.” Confirmands and middle schoolers from Beth Chaverim, CLC, and St. David’s Episcopal gathered together to eat, to begin and learn about the Sabbath, and spend time getting to know one another. We learned what it means to set apart this time as holy time for stopping and for turning again toward God. Members of CLC had this to say about the evening:
“I learned that is it so important to stop and rest and reflect on the Sabbath. We live in a hurry up world and we need to keep time for that reflection and rest.” – Sherry F.
“I really enjoyed the concept of centering oneself before prayer to make oneself open to receiving God’s message. I also enjoyed the Shabbat and the various rituals such as lighting the candles and bringing the light inward so that we can reflect that light to others. I felt that learning about Judaism is important in learning more about the culture that was Jesus’s during the time of His ministry.” – Tina Precht
“(What did you enjoy?) I enjoyed that they weren’t all that different from us. (What did you learn about Judaism?) That they do confirmation as well as us and they do practically all the things that we do in church.(What did you learn about Sabbath and the importance of taking time to stop, rest, and reflect?) I learned that it is always necessary to not just stop rest and reflect but to take time to stop and just let life catch up to you and rest, as well as rest as much you can to let life be relaxing. (What did you learn about your own faith?) That we are not much different than any other communities or congregations or churches.” – Braedon B. (Confirmand)
“(What did you enjoy?) I enjoyed learning about their Sabbath day traditions and rituals. (What did you learn about Judaism?) I learned that they speak Hebrew and English during their services. I also learned that their book of worship, the Torah, consists of the first five books of the old testament. (What did you learn about Sabbath and the importance of taking time to stop, rest, and reflect?) I learned that their Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. I learned that taking time to stop helps you focus on your relationship with God and helps you face your problems. (What did you learn about your own faith?) I learned that Judaism and Christianity are very similar. The only difference is that we believe the Messiah has come in human form through Jesus and they are still waiting for a Messiah.” – Tahina S. (Confirmand)
“I learned that Judaism involves a lot of meditation and prayer and that on the Sabbath day they will pray as long as it takes to feel replenished- often for many hours. I liked challah bread!!!!” – Caroline S. (Confirmand)
On February 9th, we celebrated the end of the Sabbath together with Havdalah, marking our re-entry back into the rhythms of everyday life. After dinner, Rabbi Joe, Rabbi Amy Sapowith, Pastor Joe, and Pastor Annabelle gathered for a panel discussion on sin, forgiveness, justification, and salvation. They took questions from those gathered and in the discussion, we all learned not only about our neighbors’ faith, but about our own.
“(What did you learn about Judaism?) Three things: 1) that they don’t consider the eating of the apple to be the first sin. 2) that, like us, different congregations use differently melodies for the same text. 3) that they pass the peace like we do. (What did you learn about the Sabbath and the importance of stopping, resting, and reflecting?) I was in agreement with these concepts and I try to practice them during Sunday services and at the Wednesday Eucharist, in addition to during my day-to-day activities. Doing so brings me closer to God. (What was your favorite part of the event(s)?) The opportunity to have meaningful conversations with Rabbi Amy and other members of Beth Chaverim. To ask and answer questions about how we are the same and different.” – Susan D.
Thank you so much to Rabbi Amy Sapowith and the Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation and Rabbi Joe Charnes for making this partnership and these events possible! It was a blessing and we look forward to other events in the future.