Thursday, May 18, 2017

Retreat In Israel

Last year, many Jewish Rabbis gathered together with many Catholic Bishops and Cardinals at the Domus Galilaeae runned by the Neocatechumenal Way in Israel. The retreat was so successful that the Jewish Rabbis asked to hold another retreat this year.  The article below was written by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg who attended the retreat. His article can be found here.

Last night Jews and Catholics, some two hundred of us, sung together around a bonfire ‘Hinei mah tov umah na’im – How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together’. Last night we prayed Ma’ariv, the traditional Jewish evening service, together; this morning we joined Christian singing of the Psalms and Shema Yisrael, with an excellent sermon by Cardinal Bassetti of Perugia stressing how love, love of nature, of animals, of people, of one another, is the essence of God’s word for us all.
All this has taken place in the Domus Galilaeae, home in Israel of followers of the Neocathecumenal Way. To previous generations, such an encounter, marked by generosity and respect, would have been unthinkable.
I have by no means found myself in agreement with everything I have heard during these three days of meetings. I am far more of an egalitarian, less critical of the secular world and have greater sympathy with those who struggle to find faith or understand if there is indeed a God in whom we can believe. I miss wider, more progressive spiritual voices. I have felt uncomfortable with certain judgements and assumptions I have heard, or think I have heard. There could also be further opportunities for closer reflection and study which a future gathering might explore.
But I am moved by the very generous welcome extended to us by the Catholic community here. I am conscious of the profound change this represents for so many, from a history containing shameful and painful periods of contempt and persecution, to the sincere affirmation of Christian indebtedness to Judaism and the commitment to a close future partnership between our faiths and communities. I appreciate deeply the courage, openness and invitation which an encounter such as this represents.
The statement of representatives of the orthodox rabbinate is a deeply important response, including as it does official representation of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel: that Jews and Christians must see in each other honoured partners in the sacred work of striving to fulfil God’s will for our torn and broken world. This is a significant legacy of Nostra Aetate, on which representatives from across the Jewish world worked closely with Pope Jean-Paul II and their Catholic colleagues together.
What touches me most, though, is the spirit of humility and service I have found in some of the Christian participants I have got to know, people who will return to the slums and impoverished estates of the big cities across the world to work with the poor, the homeless and those who find no place in a world of so-called progress by which they have been largely forgotten.
I shall take away from here a deeper awareness of the importance of hearing God’s Torah and teaching from all other human beings, of all faiths and none, and from the natural world also, because ‘leit attar panui minei’, – ‘There is nowhere where God is not’ – so long as our hearts are open to allow God in.
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Senior Rabbi to Masorti Judaism
CCJ President


  1. Dear Diana, as far as I know rabbis belong to Judaism that got its name after Jude, the son of Jacob or Israel. Judaism a consistent religion with many different branches, including orthodox, conservative and reform Judaism. In some reform Judaic denominations, female rabbis are serving.

    We know that St. Paul of the Christianity talks about the "Torah" as the Law. He has interesting teaching about the Law expounded in his pastoral letters that became part of Catholic catechism.

    Thank you for sharing the commitment of the NCW to Judaism, according to its interpretation of the Second Vatican Council documents. Please, keep in mind what rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg says here, regarding the work ahead for future direction, "I miss wider, more progressive spiritual voices."

    1. Dear anon, St Paul "of Christianity" tells us we are New Man apart from the Law. The Law, or as you like to say it, the "Torah", is the same but we became anew by the resurrection of Christ and the love or the Virgin Mary.

      By the way, the son of Jacob was Judah, according to the Bible, and now Jude.

      Vatican 2 had said nothing about "commitment to Judaism". What do you mean by that? Are the two religions the same now?

    2. No, they are not the same. Jesus Christ is Savior.

    3. Dear Anonymous at 9:44 am,

      God is also a Savior. Listen to what the Blessed Virgin Mary said in the Magnificat. She called God her savior.

    4. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.

      John 3:35-36

    5. Diana, it is only Jesus who is the Savior. He is also God, the Son of the Father.

      “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

      John 14:6

    6. Dear Anonymous at 7:04 pm,

      God the Father is ALSO a Savior. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      2096 Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.

    7. Dear Anonymous at 7:02 pm,

      The Catholic Church is not like the fundamentalists who believe that all non-christians will go to Hell. It is not our place to judge who is condemn to Hell. We follow what the Catholic Church teaches through her doctrines. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      CCC 847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

      Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

      CCC 848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

    8. Diana, why is the obligation to evangelize? Because you need to accept the Lord Jesus as your God! If you don't evangelize, then you leave them ignorant of the Gospels, eventually you deprive them of eternal life.

    9. Diana, God the Father is creator of the universe. The world and everything that happens in the world belongs to him. He does not "save" but He gave life. Saving is a correction of what is wrong in the universe.

  2. grow up in faithMay 22, 2017 at 3:37 PM

    Dear anon, many people misunderstand the relation between Judaism and Christianity. These are two separate religions, but they share the same foundation: the Creation and the Ten Commandments. You cannot have agreement between Islam and Hinduism, for example, because they do not share any foundation! What one says, the other says the opposite. So that it about mutual understanding.

    Now, the relation between Judaism and Christianity is quite different. Because of the shared foundation, the teaching also goes parallel. Even the concept of God in the Torah presupposes the Holy Trinity. Prophets were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even if Sadducees did not believe in resurrections, the Pharisees did! That is why the highly educated Pharisee, Saul, was able to convert to St. Paul on the road to Damascus, because he already believed in resurrection! Resurrection is about being the Son of God, because a loving God would raise his sons/daughters for sure.

    Because all three persons of the Holy Trinity are already present, even if somewhat hidden, in the Torah, it comes as a natural conclusion already in Judaism to look at God as the God Head of the Holy Unity. This Holy Unity is what Christianity calls the Holy Trinity! This gives the shared foundation between Judaism and the Catholic faith: a firm and essentially unique view of God.

    1. Dear Grow in faith, what do you mean? The Holy Trinity is unique to Christianity! Some Protestants are anti-Trinitarians but Catholics believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

      There is not Holy Trinity in the Jewish religion, because they are still waiting for their Messiah. They have never accepted Jesus as Messiah, because a Messiah is triumphant on earth and cannot die on a cross! This means the Jewish Messiah must be a powerful earthly king who defeats the enemies of Israel and unifies the 12 tribes again under a new kingdom! There, the new Temple is built and will stand forever.

      Jesus did not satisfy these expectations from a Messiah, therefore He is rejected by mainstream Jews! He is considered and impostor. Read: “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’" (Matt 27:63) This view is still prevalent among the Jews.

    2. grow up in faithMay 22, 2017 at 6:57 PM

      Jesus is not a Jewish Messiah, true. So Judaism has a pint of not (yet) accepting Him as Savior. That is why He will come again! At the Second Coming He will be exactly like a triumphant king and the heavenly Jerusalem will replace the Temple of Zion. Please, read the Book of Revelations for details.

      It is also important that the Virgin Mary will be crowned as the the Queen of Heaven. It is again a fundamental concept from Judaism that there is a all-encompassing substance of material origin expressing the human nature, which is translated into Christianity as the Queenship of the Virgin Mary. This substance is expressed by the virgin birth which gives the material world a temporary divine character in Jesus Christ.

      When Jesus is coming again, the Jews will believe and the difference between Judaism and the Catholic faith will be finally eliminated for good.

    3. Dear Grow in faith, the Second Coming is way too far away and speculative to build on it you salvation. If the Jews are only saved at the Second Coming then that might be too late for them.

      What you write abut the queenship of the Virgin Mary is beyond me. Is Mary an "all-encompassing substance of material origin"? Where did you read this in Judaism?

    4. I find these conversations very interesting and curious. On one hand you have the NCW claiming that "ordinary Catholics" (you know, the ones that go to Mass) aren't really Christian, but are more pagan and that they have to be catechised and converted.

      And yet, on the other hand, these same people claim that the Jews, who outright reject Jesus Christ as King, God and Savior, are somehow protected from error and are saved because of their physical genetic history! Not because of what they believe, but because of who-they-are!

      This amazes me, not the least because any survey of modern people who claim Jewish ancestory, will show that the majority don't even believe in God (the Father), let alone Jesus Christ.

      Yet, once again we have these NCW experts telling us how wonderful are the Jews and how we should be more like them.

      Forgive me, but I think you're mad.

    5. grow up in faithMay 24, 2017 at 1:50 PM

      Dear anonymous at 10:30 am, I would not underestimate the importance of the Second Coming. You will be surprised that the Jews go to eternal life before you, because they accepted Christ. Then you will knock and the door might be closed. Because many are called but only a few are elected.

      The Second Coming is not that far, it may come tomorrow or in your life time as St. Paul also said. Islam fundamentalism is like a beast feeding on the innocent. Read the Book of Revelations, it is like you see the schedule. There will be 1000 years of reign and then the world is over.

      The all-encompassing substance of material origin expressing the human nature is coming alive in the Queenship of the Virgin Mary. I'll show you this in a different post.

    6. grow up in faithMay 24, 2017 at 2:03 PM

      I quote you a writing about the Jewish concept of matter.

      "Desire, pleasure—these imply diversity. The form of each thing is its conception in the Creator’s will and wisdom. Much as Berkeley wrote, things are divine ideas.

      Once there is desire, there is conception. Conception is the funnel through which desire is translated into ideas. In the language of the Kabbalah, desire is keter, the crown; conception is chochmah, wisdom. “How diverse are your works, O G‑d,” sings David; “all of them You made with wisdom.”

      Wisdom is where the parameters of this diverse universe are conceived. Like the artist’s flash of inspiration. So too, when desire conceives wisdom, endless diversity condenses into a single point."

      "So when we say “G‑d spoke,” we’re saying that He created a subjective experience of His ideas. He created a world of otherness, a place of beings that perceive themselves as autonomous entities, and therefore walk around inside all these ideas perceiving them as well as autonomous things. In other words, as matter."

      You see here desire, pleasure, conception. This is all about the all-encompassing substance governing the world. Just like a Queen who dwells in heaven. What you got is wisdom, diversity and matter. This is our world. Mother Mary is the Wisdom of the Psalms.

      Why do you think matter and mother are almost the same word? Because as the mother gives birth to a child, the same way wisdom gives birth to matter. This all-encompassing substance is the heavenly production, the Queenship of Mary in Heaven.

    7. Dear Anonymous at 12:21 pm,

      See my response in the following weblink: