February 2017 Shofar Article

This past summer, thirty five congregants from Schaarai Zedek and an equal number from Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church toured Israel together. The Schaarai Zedek bus visited Jewish sites while the Church bus visited Christian historical and religious places. On any given day, participants could switch buses because we lodged at the same hotels overnight. This unique interfaith setting led to new friendships and invited questions about each other’s faiths. This interfaith tour was enjoyable and memorable. We look forward to the next one.

In the meantime, Pastor John DeBevois and I are continuing our dialogue with two new education series. The first (see page 8) will occur on three Tuesday nights in February at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church. We will explore our differing interpretations of three New and Old Testament Bible stories and how these varied interpretations have led to different theologies. You will be excited by the distinctive ways we approach “Adam and Eve,” “Isaiah 53 and the Question of Messiah,” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.”  

Often, interfaith dialogue emphasizes the similarities shared by two faiths. Instead, we will take the more challenging approach of understanding and appreciating our differences. We hope you will join us for this trail blazing series.

The second series will focus on Israel and the Middle East crisis. These sessions will be hosted by both congregations (details to follow) on the last Tuesday night in April and two Tuesday nights in May. Topics will include “How Did We Get Here? The Historical Perspective,” “Is a Two State Solution Possible?,” and “Do Jews and Presbyterians Have the Same Religious Vision for Israel?” Please hold April 25 and May 2 and 16 to attend these great sharing experiences.

– From Rabbi Birnholz