Franciscan Perspective: Insights on Judaism

Paul Keggington

June 08, 2011

Jesus was born of a Jewish mother. Did you know that for Jews their mother (not father) is the most important lineage link to their Jewish heritage? Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, Sister Mary Bodwin highlighted this fact on the first of 4 nights of sharing Insights into Judaism June 6, 13, 20, 27, 2011.

Offering evening classes in hopes of enriching her own and others’ background in Judaism, Sister Mary further referenced this linage connection with the example of Edith Stein, also born of a Jewish mother. Edith did convert  to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun first in Cologne Carmel. Realizing the danger she caused others from her Jewish ancestry, she asked and received permission to transfer to a foreign monastery. In 1932 she secretly crossed the border into Holland where she was welcomed in the Carmel of Echt. (She did this with a blood sister who also became a Catholic Carmelite nun.) Later, Nazis  invaded Holland. When Dutch bishops felt called to issue a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of Jews and the expulsion of Jewish children from the Catholic schools, the Nazis arrested all Catholics who were daughters and sons of Jewish mothers in Holland. Edith (and her sister) died at Auschwitz. 

Franciscan Note:  the only time in history when there is record of Jews living in Assisi is during the Holocaust, when the town and its churches, monasteries and convents became a safe haven for several hundred Jews.

The only book used for these sessions is the Bible. Maps and a vocabulary sheet of @ 45 words are important resources. Beginning with Genesis, especially beginning with the person of Abraham, the first class proved that Scripture is significant study material for Judaism.

Clearly the greatest gift Judaism brought to the world is monothiesm. Believing in one true God and an understanding of covenant were both important to Jesus who welcomed Jew and Gentile to love God and neighbor. They were important to Francis. Are they important to us?

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