Discovering Jesus the Jew

August 6, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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ABC’s Geraldine Doogue has gone on a personal quest to understand more about the Jewish roots of her Christian faith.

Following a visit to Jerusalem at Easter, she became intrigued by the history and traditions of Judaism.

Discovering-Jesus-the-Jew---5Aug15-smallOn the eve of the 50th anniversary of the release of Nostra Aetate, one of the most significant documents of reconciliation ever issued by the Catholic Church, Geraldine asks how a deeper understanding of Judaism might enlighten Christianity.

She meets Rabbis, historians, church scholars, along with ordinary Jews and Christians in order to explore the overlap between Judaism and Christianity. Along the way, she is invited to share in a Friday night ‘Shabbat’, and she catches up with some former neighbours, German Jews who lived next door to her in South Perth when she was growing up.

As a practising Catholic, Geraldine has witnessed a growing sense inside the church that to ignore the Jewish essence of Jesus, is to miss a lot about his real message.

People sometimes forget that Jesus, his mother Mary, the saints Peter and Paul, were all Orthodox practising Jews until the day they died.”

The commonality between Judaism and Christianity is the focus of a Catholic group called ‘Light of Torah.’ Course founder Teresa Pirola tells Geraldine that studying Judaism has been extremely transforming for her as a Catholic, so much so that she now prays in Hebrew. “I’m not trying to be a Jew but these influences are part of the fabric of my Catholic life.”

High profile business and social entrepreneur Evan Thornley has had a long affinity with Judaism. After studying Jewish history and philosophy, he converted and took the Hebrew name of Lev Yonatan. “I feel much closer to my conception of God now than I ever have and maybe that’s probably the simplest explanation of why Judaism has worked for me. It’s made a sense of the divine in my life a much more real thing.”

Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, talks about the significance of ‘Nostra Aetate’ (Latin for ‘in our time’). It was a key result of the momentous meeting of church officials during Vatican Two, from 1962-65 in Rome. It said that a right relationship with followers of Judaism was central to being a good Catholic and it encouraged Catholics to heal the long-standing breach with the Jewish people, who were condemned for centuries as Christ-killers, leading to the tragedy of anti-Semitism and culminating in the Holocaust. “In one sense it’s the beginning of a very long task, and a task that’s long because its pre-history is long and agonised.”

Also Interviewed in the program are Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, Rabbi David Rosen, Fr David Neuhaus, Evan Thornley, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Rabbi Jordan Cohen and Dr Avril Alba.

The Compass program will screen on Sunday, August 16 at 6:30pm on ABC-TV.


3 Responses to “Discovering Jesus the Jew”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    I brought up the discussion [online]on the loin cloth Jesus is depicted wearing on the cross in the church.
    My claim was it was to hide His Jewishness, separating us from Him as it wouldn’t do to have him seen as King of the Jews and Messiah on the side of those promoting progroms and annhilating his own flesh and blood down through history.

  2. Joseph Shellim says:

    LOL. Now she should meet a Roman Pope who calls Mozies as Palestinians. Just saying.

  3. Fiona Sweet Formiatti says:

    Just a small but important point. Rather than ‘Orthodox practising Jews’, I suggest ‘traditional observant Jews’. I know people say ‘practising Christian’; we say ‘observant’. And’Orthodox’ brings up a much later definition and a possible contrast with/exclusion of ‘Conservative’ or ‘Progressive’ Jews…

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