By Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter.
That began to fall apart when we Presbyterians started considering — and eventually approved –disinvestment from companies the church said have been benefitting financially from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Some of us Presbyterians in the heartland — without imagining that we can solve all of our differences — plan to begin a grassroots effort to try to recreate respectful and warm associations with some of our Jewish neighbors. We will aim to “mend a broken relationship,” as former Presbyterian General Assembly Moderator Heath Rada has described the task.
Perhaps there are lessons in this for Catholics and Protestants, too, in their sometimes-testy relations.
We’ll begin with help from the great author and New Testament scholar from Vanderbilt University, Amy-Jill Levine, who attends an Orthodox Jewish congregation. She’ll be in Kansas City for several days in October for some lectures, and will spend at least part of her time helping Presbyterians and Jews understand how they can create opportunities to sit down with each other and share their hearts. Levine has discussed this process in some of her writing, including her book The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus.
That book — and her latest one, Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi — should be required reading for anyone preaching from any Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox pulpit. For as Levine says, you can’t understand Jesus without understanding Judaism.