Calling All Readers

In light of this blog’s six-month anniversary, I’d like to announce a call for papers (or guest blog posts, or e-mails, or questions/comments, or anything else you’ve got).

A major reason that the Jewish community is contemptuous and afraid of Jewish conversions to Christianity is the equation of conversion and assimilation, on one hand, and of assimilation and the disappearance of the Jewish people on the other. The chief rabbi of Israel had at one point said of Cardinal Lustiger that, by converting to Catholicism, the latter was accomplishing Hitler’s goal of annihilating the Jews. The sentiment is common. Christian converts, the logic goes, tend to marry other Christians, most of whom are non-Jewish – which means that their descendants will drift progressively further from the Jewish people.

From the Christian perspective, this poses a non-trivial conundrum. If we believe that the Jews, as a people of the election, have a special relationship with God, then preservation of this people is important. So far in Jewish history, “preserving the Jewish people” has only meant one thing – marrying Jewish. Most Christian Jews would perceive such a restriction in marriage practice as unconscionable.

Is there then a way to preserve the Jewish people within the Church? Does it require avoidance of Jewish-Gentile Christian marriages? If not, what other means are there? The answers probably lie hidden in the experiences of people like you and me.

I would love to hear from you if you are:

  • A Christian who is part-Jewish in ethnic origin
  • A Jewish or part-Jewish Christian with children from a marriage with a non-Jew
  • A non-Jewish Christian with children from a marriage with a Jew (whether Christian or not)
  • Anyone else with thoughts on this specific topic

Please drop me a line (or a paragraph, or a paper, or a book recommendation), either in the comment section to the blog or at groomsfamilyblog at gmail dot com. Let me know also if you would be willing to be interviewed on this topic in the future.

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About The Groom's Family

I was born in Soviet Russia and grew up in Israel. I was baptized Orthodox Christian in 2006. Today my husband and I live in Northern Virginia. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!
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15 Responses to Calling All Readers

  1. melxiopp says:

    Something like the Greek and Armenian practice of adding “hadži” (hajji, hadji, haji) to one’s name after making pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The same could be done by families with Jewish ancestry.

    Of course, the adoption of a specifically Jewish surname could also be done, perhaps even following matriarchal lineage, i.e., children are given the mother’s Jewish surname.

    Of course, I’m not sure what the nature of post-Resurrectional Judaism is now that there is neither Jew nor Greek. Yes, there may be a special place for Jews in the grand scheme of things still (perhaps even relevant to the Last Days), but is this descriptive or prescriptive? Are we to maintain Jewish ethnic identities in a way distinctly different than how Christians are to treat any ethnic identity at all? Ethnicity and citizenship are quite secondary, now, e.g., Letter to Diognetus.

    • @ melxiopp – that’s an interesting idea! Surnames or middle names, perhaps combined with the equivalent of the claddagh ring for those of Irish ancestry… hmm.

      To your bigger question – St. Paul writes of the Israelites as those “to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:4). There is more at stake than ethnic identity; it is a matter of membership in a people to whom God has made a special promise, which will be fulfilled at the end of days.

      In addition, there is imagery throughout the Old Testament suggesting Israel as the bride of God, and affirming God’s eternal faithfulness to this betrothal (see my earlier post, “Blog is Back! And So Is Marriage”). If God is faithful to us as a people, we must be faithful to Him, and how can we do so if we lose awareness of our membership in this people?

  2. Eleazar says:

    Re : above,
    Great idea! By way of further blog suggestion:-‘Celebrated Hebrew Christians’ Bio’ Profiles-Contemporary and Historic’.
    Khagim Tovim!

  3. Pingback: Call for papers/posts/feedback at the Groom’s Family | Between Jerusalem and Constantinople

  4. melxiopp says:

    I’m just not sure those are eternal promises of specialness as it was as God prepared a woman and a culture for the Incarnation of the Son rather than it is St. Paul acknowledging to Gentiles that the Jews of his day should not be held in disregard for not having all become Christians immediately. They should be valued in the way the things of the altar are valued – for their past connection with the Body and Blood of Christ. That said, not everything is the altar is not treated as is the chalice and the veils and the altar itself.

    The Tradition – assuming it is guided by the Holy Spirit – would also seem to argue for the fact that the promises to Israel in the OT are either transferred to the New Israel of the NT (the Church) or fulfilled and superceded, except insofar as important peoples can be honored in their descendants – not that the important people’s race is by nature ‘honored’ in a special way.

    In some ways, the issue here is quite similar to the issue facing Gentile Orthodox in the so-called Diaspora. What of the totality of their cultural traditions is essential to keep in a new land where they and their children are joining a new culture? Is the liturgical language of the old country necessary? What about food traditions around great church feasts? What about the kinds of clothes traditionally worn? What about marriage customs surrounding the services in the Church?

    Similarly, what makes a Jew a Jew since Pentecost? Since Constantine? Is it keeping kosher, circumcision, is it keeping the OT passover instead of or alongside of the NT Pascha? I’m not sure it is more than an acknowledgment that one’s ancestry is Jewish while one’s faith and practice is today’s Orthodox Christianity, one’s race is that of the New Israel while one’s culture is that where one is (cf. Letter to Diognetus), but as a sojourner here.

    • The Groom's Family says:

      @melxiopp – I think there are two issues here.

      One is that there is a covenant between God and the Jewish people, which is not unlike a marriage covenant. Whether or not that means Jews are “special” (or whether being “special” is a good thing), it indicates a commitment and an ongoing relationship those nature we don’t fully understand.

      The other is the history of the Jewish people. But many notable Jewish converts of the 20th century saw in the suffering of the Jewish people, particularly under the Nazis, an imitation or analogy of the suffering of Christ. The rejection and humiliation of the Jews by the nations, including so-called Christian nations, parallels the rejection of Christ by the Jews (Cardinal Lustiger writes especially well about this – see earlier blog posts for references) – and yet the Jewish people perseveres. One could dismiss all this as merely the adventures of a God-forsaken nation whose fortunes are of no more interest to Him than those of any other group. And perhaps it is one. But I tend to see the mystical parallel, and wonder what it means and how it will play out in sacred history.

      I think the “acknowledgment that one’s ancestry is Jewish while one’s faith and practice is today’s Orthodox Christianity,” as you put it, is important: it enables Jews to be Christians not in spite of their being Jews, but because of it.

  5. Eleazar says:

    B+H – Will keep you posted.
    Recommending to your readers,Yves Hamant’s ‘Alexander Men:(A Man For Our Times)’
    translated by Iconologist-scholar and researcher Fr.Steven Bigham of St.Vladimir’s Seminary NY.

  6. Eleazar says:

    …As concerns Israel within Israel,one indeed need look no further than Shaul Ha Tarsi; namely,
    Pavlus – ‘Shaliach to ths Gentiles’!
    Shana Tova & Yeshua-Yerah prosper!

  7. melxiopp says:

    I haven’t read the book yet, but this review of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s Orthodoxy and Hetorodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems Through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith made an interesting (controversial? accurate?) point regarding Judaism pre- and post-Christ from at least his (the?) perspective of Orthodox Christianity:

    “That said, there are some things that come across more sharply than others. It is accurate to point out, as Fr. Andrew does, that since Orthodox Christianity sees the Church as the New Israel and God’s chosen people, present-day Israel and Judaism have no special status from an Orthodox perspective. It is also uncomfortable to read stated so matter-of-factly in so many words. Again, as noted earlier, pointing out disagreement seems to lend itself easily to accusations of prejudice in the current era. Nonetheless, Fr. Andrew both makes it abundantly clear that’s not where he’s coming from and extends the same notice of similarities and agreement that he does to every other religion discussed in the book.”

    http://leitourgeia.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/review-orthodoxy-and-heterodoxy-exploring-belief-systems-through-the-lens-of-the-ancient-christian-faith-by-fr-andrew-stephen-damick/

  8. Romanós says:

    I am an ordinary simple believer and follower of Jesus. By ethnicity, a second generation Polish-American, no mixture, all Polish, baptised Roman Catholic as an infant, chrismated Greek Orthodox at age thirty-seven, now in my sixtieth year of life. My family name, Gorny, is shared by Jews and Christians of Polish background. We know of no Jews in recent generations except those married in, once by accident, having mistaken one of my aunts for a Jew. I have been a Jew inwardly ever since I was a boy, fascinated by Hebrew script, the language, the history, the rabbinical writings, the synagogue, the holidays, tradition, tradition, tradition. Early in my marriage we celebrated Pesach and Channukah along with Christian traditions. Later, my wife rebelled against that and my Jewish ways. Now, I pray the Tehillim almost daily in Hebrew. I read the Tanakh, and my well-worn copy of Pirke Avot. So, now you know, I am not exactly a Jew, but what am I? I don’t pretend to be one, but I love God’s people Israel, and I do not accept the majority view of ‘replacement theology.’

    If I were an ethnic Jew believing in Jesus of Nazareth as the Mashiach, I would continue living as I am living now. I attend and support my local Greek church. I keep my Judaism as a private matter. But if I were a Jew by ethnicity, I would have a right to wear tzitzit if I wanted to, or pray in the liturgy wearing my tallit, though in the temple among other brethren, maybe not my kippah, but at home, yes, my kippah. I would keep kosher, circumcise my sons (I did do this as a Gentile), keep the Jewish festivals along with the Christian ones, keep the shabbat, hang mezuzot at my doors, all within reason and modified by occasions and circumstances, not to offend my Gentile brethren, but only to testify to them that, though I with them believe in Him who is the Holy One of God, I am still a son of Yisrael and a member of the Groom’s family.

    I fully expect, as a Greek Orthodox Christian, that non-Christian Jews are part of the plan of salvation, and that Christ upon His return, will gather them to Himself, surprising many who think they have priority, according to His saying, ‘some first will be last, and last first.’ We can never know for sure at which end of the line we will be found on that final march into Paradise.

    Having just discovered your blog through Byzantine Jewess, I will continue reading, as I have opportunity, to better make your acquaintance. Barukh ha-ba ba-Shem Adonay! Shalom, Sister, shalom.

    • Romanos, thank you for writing and especially for sharing your remarkable story!

      Have you ever done some genealogical digging (beyond the “recent generations”)? I wouldn’t be surprised if you came up with some Jewish ancestry, however distant; there does seem to be a genetic memory for this sort of thing.

      Shalom to you.

      • Yaakov says:

        Shalom,

        There is and only ever has been one Israel. That Israel is the Church. Fr. Thomas Hopko made the point that there is no such thing as the ‘New Israel’. There is a ‘New Jerusalem’, but there is only one Israel.

        I am a Jewish Orthodox Christian. My wife and I do celebrate Shabbat, Channukah, and other Jewish traditions. It is important to me that my children know their cultural and ethnic heritage. One story that I like is a brief section in St. John Climacus’ Ladder of Divine Ascent: “While they all were being given a meal, John saw “a man with short hair, dressed in a white tunic like a Jew, going around with an air of authority and giving orders to the cooks, stewards, cellarers and other servants.” Once the meal was finished, the man was nowhere to be found. “It was our lord Moses,” said John, “He has done nothing strange in serving here in the place that is his own”

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