Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hope for Judeo-Christian unity?

The Archdiocese of Boston and the Anti-Defamation League are partnering to teach Jews about Christianity. According to The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson:

...interest in Christianity among Jewish educators has been growing in part for one simple reason: the high rate of interfaith marriages. Many Jewish educators now teach children who have a Christian parent or grandparents.

I'd like to think it's more than that.

The world's largest faith is often mentioned in Jewish schools largely in negative contexts - the Crusades and the Holocaust. But the advocates of the New Directions program are arguing that Jewish teachers should be able to answer questions about Christianity accurately and respectfully both for moral reasons - because it's the right thing to do - and practical ones - because many children in Jewish schools have Christian relatives, and most live in predominantly Christian communities.

I'd like to think "because it's the right thing to do" trumps the "practical" considerations. Or that maybe the "practical" considerations are God's tool in bringing this effort about.

The story is both hopeful and frustrating to me. Mostly hopeful, thank God.

"What has struck me, and I include myself in this, is how little Jews know about Christianity," said Diane Rosenbaum, the senior associate director of the Anti-Defamation League's New England region. "As Jewish educators, it is important to know about other traditions so you can teach about them with the same respect you want Judaism taught with."


The blithe comment about "the Crusades and the Holocaust" is disturbing, of course. But perhaps this effort will enable a deeper understanding of the misunderstandings so entrenched in these events.

Catholic educator Celia Sirois co-runs the program with her Jewish counterpart, Naomi Towvin. The story notes that Sirois spent 45 minutes answering a question about The Trinity.

Don't even try, Celia! :-)

Pray that this effort bears much fruit.

And may the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob bless us all abundantly during this holy season, and always.