Ken and Flora Wilsker
Volume 11 – May 2015
Dear Havurim (friends),
We want to wish you a very blessed Easter, Passover, and Pentecost (Shavuot) season. We have been so busy with settling into our new home and jobs, so please forgive us for being a bit late on this Newsletter. We enjoyed a wonderful Lent. We were very happy to be with our former Havurah in Louisville, KY and celebrate the Passover Seder with them in our former Parish. We also enjoyed a sweet Pesach (Passover) here in St. Louis with our new mishpochah (family). We have just returned from our trip to NY to see family and to visit the Burnt Hills Havurah in Albany, NY. “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”! (Ps 133)
Our Lady of the Miracle and St. Edith Stein, pray for us!
Shalom in Messiah,
Ken and Flora
Why the AHC Havurah? Conclusion
We continue and conclude with our discussion in this Newsletter on the final points made by David Moss in the pamphlet, Havurah, why an AHC Havurah? David Moss writes that the Havurah is a work of hope for all peoples. The pamphlet goes on to say that once established, the AHC havurot will:
- be amongst those small vital pilgrim communities of the Church that then-Cardinal Ratzinger hoped will again become the “salt of the earth”.
Some possible meanings for salt in this Scripture, Matt 5:13, are that salt was a common preservative and purifying agent. It is suggested that evil cannot grow in an area that is purified by salt. Also a common Jewish expression at this time was to call the Laws the “salt and light” of the world. In Rabbinic literature of this time, salt was a metaphor for wisdom. As we begin to unpack the significance of what Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) was talking about we understand better what these small communities can become in our Church communities around the world. The studies, lectures, and holiday celebrations that are sponsored by the AHC and the havurot are helping to purify, preserve, and ignite the faith of all who attend as well as all those whom we touch with our lives.
- be an integral part of the “new evangelization”, contributing a vibrant and rich Jewish perspective.
So many of our groups are now studying books by Dr. Brant Pitre and other authors who are able to shed light on the continuity and the contribution that knowledge of our Jewish roots bring to our Catholic faith. As we discover and share these truths, we can see the excitement and outpouring of faith that comes from so many Catholics who are part of the havurot. We have now been a part of 3 different havurot, and it is amazing to witness faith coming alive and being on fire for our Lord. It is apparent to anyone who studies our Jewish roots that it is only Catholicism, and not merely Christianity, that is the fulfillment of Judaism and is the continuation of salvation history. The interest we see in the Catholic media on the Jewish roots is evidence that this is a crucial part of the new evangelization.
- prepare the ground for the future Israelite community, anticipating the day when God will gather all people to Himself.
It is critical to understand that the salvation of all Israel means life from the dead for the entire people of God. St. Paul in the letter to the Romans 11:13-15 writes: “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from dead?” The havurot will attract more and more Hebrew Catholics, and by the sweet attraction of our faith and our way of life as followers of the Jewish Messiah, we will see more of all manner of peoples coming to faith within the Catholic Church. Just as in the beginning when the Jewish Apostles went out to the four corners of their world to build the Church, so it will be in these days.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David and Kathleen Moss envision our havurot to be places where true Hebrew Catholic spirituality can develop and flourish in much the same way as Messianic Jewish congregations have developed in Evangelical Christianity. We are building the foundation and groundwork now for our future leaders and for larger numbers to enter the Catholic faith. Let us continue to gather together and encourage one another as we grow in holiness and faith together. Just as the first Hebrew Catholic and Gentile Catholic community changed the world forever, so we are called today to continue in their footsteps and walk in Yeshua the Messiah’s light!
If there were just one contribution that Judaism has given to the world and to our Catholic/Christian faith, that would be the concept of the Sabbath. This short reflection is meant to nudge us out of the mundane world and into the Sabbath rest. In our modern day post-Christian society, we are often bombarded with all kinds of “stuff” to do on our Sabbath day of rest on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. We have an obligation to attend Holy Mass, but that is merely 60 or 90 minutes out of our Sunday (or Saturday night). Then we are bombarded with shopping, sports, or catching up on chores around the house, since many times both husband wife are working full-time jobs. This “busyness” keeps us from enjoying the time that God has given us to spend time with Him and our families. We have lost our way to the Sabbath.
Here is where our observant Jewish brothers and sisters can make a significant contribution to our lives as Catholics. We have been reading a book entitled, The Sabbath, by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. In the foreword of that book by his daughter, Susannah, she writes about her father:
“He writes that we need the Sabbath in order to survive civilization: ‘Gallantly, ceaselessly, quietly, man must fight for inner liberty’ to remain independent of the enslavement of the material world. ‘Inner liberty depends upon being exempt from domination of things as well as from domination of people. There are many who have acquired a high degree of political and social liberty, but only a very few are not enslaved to things. This is our constant problem – how to live with people and remain free, how to live with things and remain independent.’”
She goes on:
“My father defines Judaism as a religion centrally concerned with holiness in time. Some religions build great cathedrals or temples, but Judaism constructs the Sabbath as an architecture of time.”
In our Catholic world, we build Cathedrals and beautiful places of worship to house the very presence of God. It is in these great spaces that we can be in His presence and spend time with the One who makes us holy, the One who is the living Torah, Who comes and lives in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. We need to spend more time in God’s presence, quiet and at rest. This is the great challenge for our time. The enemy of our souls tries to keep our lives too busy and too noisy, and the Sabbath allows us to slow down and rest in God’s presence with His people.
In Judaism, the Sabbath begins with the lighting of Sabbath candles. This act sets apart this holy time from the rest of the mundane week. In Hebrew the word for holy is Kadosh. Kadosh means to set apart from everyday life and usage and to come close to God. It is a complete joy as well as a great challenge to keep the Sabbath holy and joyful, free from so many of the trappings of our modern lives. Flora and I have reached a stage in our lives when we are now experiencing a day of rest and peace like we have not had since we left New York and our Messianic Jewish congregation. We often spend time with good friends and share a meal. We enjoy good conversation, and our minds and hearts are fixed on God’s will. We try not to turn on the TV, and we spend time reading and talking. Our Sabbath is becoming a sweet time with God and each other. We are by no means perfect at this, but we are making progress. God has given us a commandment to keep the Sabbath holy, not out of obligation, but out of love for Him and our neighbors. As Catholics, we could do the same on Saturday night by lighting the candles to set apart the Lord’s Day from the rest of the week, and God will sanctify this and make this a joyful and peaceful time of rest for us.
Another Jewish custom is the lighting of the Havdalah candle at the end of the Sabbath. We could also practice this in our homes and light a special candle to commemorate the starting of a new week of work and production. God wants us to be productive in His vineyard and in our homes and work places. When we are intentional about setting apart the time of the Lord’s Day, then we will notice that God will fill us with peace and make us even more productive.
Let us be encouraged with this passage of Isaiah in conclusion: (Is 58:13-14)
“If you turn back your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day and call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Yeshua told us that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Let us learn to rest in His and our Mother’s arms as we set apart and make holy the Sabbath.
How do you keep the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day? What is your favorite part of that time? We would love to hear from you. Please send your thoughts and even photos of your sweet Sabbath (Lord’s Day) moments with us. Thanks in advance.
News from the Diaspora
The Fellowship of St. Joseph – 2014- 2015 Report Toronto, Ontario
In September of 2014, we presented a wonderful video, Brant Pitre’s Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. It included a detailed look at Passover and its fulfillment in the mass.
October saw us back in the parish hall, with its lovely new floor. Mark spoke on “Everyone Needs a Jewish Mother” and included excerpts from a DVD by Steve Ray: ” Mary, Mother of God.” Our Blessed Mother from Her Jewish Perspective.
In November, we had the privilege of hearing about “The Synagogue in the Time of Jesus and the New Testament”. Jordan Ryan, M.A. is a young PHD student who had spent time on a dig in Israel. He shared about the new archeological discoveries that help put the gospel into its cultural and geographic settings. Jordan focused on the synagogue in Magdala.
December brings Hanukkah and Advent. Mark brought us “If there had not been a Hanukkah, would there have been a Christmas?” An Advent Reflection from a Jewish Perspective. Of course there were donuts and Hanukkah gelt, Dreydles and lots of fun.
The Christmas season also brought us our long anticipated new laptop! Many thanks to all who contributed.
As the weather got colder, and snow arrived with January 2015, we welcomed Eliseo Zompanti with “The Jewish Roots of the Faith as viewed through the Liturgy”, a deeply enlightening talk.
In February we had the privilege of hosting Michael Coren, journalist, author, broadcaster and Jewish Believer in Jesus. He spoke about his new book, “Islam’s War on Christianity” and the persecution of Christians around the world. He also answered many questions from the audience. The capacity crowd listened attentively to Michael’s many insights and experiences.
* Editorial Note: Recently you may have noticed that sadly Michael Coren announced that he has left the Catholic faith due to his views on human sexuality and other matters. We will pray that he will return soon to the Catholic Church.
“The Prayer Life of Edith Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD” came in March, part 2 of Mark’s series on St. Edith Stein. Mark recapped her life and journey into the faith and the Carmelite order as well as her deep devotion to prayer for “her people”. Ever her burden, she and her sister eventually died in the same camps in which her beloved people suffered and perished.
In April, Jordan Ryan returned to discuss “Jewish Concepts of the Messiah in the Time of Jesus”. Using many little-known texts that supported the Canonical Scriptures, this important topic helped people answer the question as to why many in the Jewish community of Jesus’ day did not recognize Jesus for who He was.
Looking forward, we will welcome Msgr. Robert Nusca, Past President and Rector St. Augustine’s Seminary here in Toronto, who will continue his reflections on the Book of Revelation with “The Hymns in the Book of Revelation”
And finally, in June at our annual Movie and Popcorn Night, we hope to show the film, The Jewish Cardinal, about the life of Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, the late Cardinal Archbishop of Paris.
We thank our new pastor, Fr. Ed Murphy, for his ongoing encouragement and support, and our associate priest, Fr. Joseph, and the staff of Blessed Trinity for their help and kindness.
As always, we appreciate your prayers and input. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to hear from you.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you.
In Yeshua our Messiah and Miriam our mother,
Sue and Mark Neugebauer
Havurat Yosef HaTzaddik
From the St. Edith Stein Havurah, Saint Louis, Missouri
On April 4, Ken & Flora Wilsker and David & Kathleen Moss met together for a “first”: A brief Hebrew Catholic commemoration of Holy Saturday right before the Easter Vigil Mass. Dr. Larry Feingold brought up the idea of doing this in the Spring of 2010 during his AHC lecture on Holy Saturday and the Harrowing of Hell. To honor Our Blessed Mother and to commemorate Jesus’ descent into Hades to open the gates of Heaven for all faithful departed Jews and Gentiles, twelve candles were lit, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Together, we prayed several prayers taken from excerpts of Dr. Feingold’s lecture on the topic.
On April 24, we completed our study of Brant Pitre’s Jesus the Bridegroom, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. We highly recommend Brant Pitre’s books and CDs/DVDs on the Jewish roots of our faith. In addition to the material from the Old Testament, Pitre includes material from the Talmud, Midrash, and other Jewish literature. His presentations of our Jewish roots demonstrates the continuity and blossoming of Biblical Judaism into its fulfillment, the Catholic faith.
We will have two more sessions before our havurah breaks for the summer. In our next session, we will watch Israel Survives–Against All Odds, a documentary of Israel’s wars from the time of the United Nations’ approval of Israeli statehood in 1948. This documentary focuses on a number of miraculous wartime events which helped enable the fledgling modern state of Israel to survive.
As a reminder, any books or CDs/DVDs that you wish to purchase for your havurah can be obtained from the AHC for a 25% discount. If the books or CDs have been produced by the AHC or The Miriam Press, then these may be purchased for a 50% discount.
Wishing you all a blessed and spiritually refreshing summer,
In the hearts of Yeshua, Miriam, and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross,
David and Kathleen Moss
On the occasion of Sister Marian Handley’s 60th anniversary as a Nun
As just a small response to your kind letter of interest in our local havurah, I enclose four photos of Sister Mariana Handley’s 60th anniversary of her being a nun of the Order of Sion.
Sister Mariana Handley
AHC co-founder Andrew Sholl, and
Judy Racz, a wonderful Hebrew catholic artist and teacher.
It was a lovely day of rejoicing with our AHC members, local parishioners, and family members of Sister’s. We celebrated mass and enjoyed a little party afterwards.
From the Havurah in Louisville, KY
Flora and I are reporting on our experience in Louisville. The Louisville Havurah held its third annual Passover Seder at St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Louisville. If you remember from last year, there was a very large celebration with Roy Schoeman. This year was smaller and more intimate with about 30 attendees. Flora and Ken Wilsker were invited to lead the Seder using the AHC Haggadah. Everyone pitched in on the food, and it was amazing how plentiful and delicious it all was. We were blessed to have one of the Associate Pastors attend the Seder, and this was his first Passover Seder. He was very impressed and enjoyed the entire experience. Several others were also attending their first Passover Seder that night, and we heard many comments about how much the Seder leads right into the Eucharist. In short, it was a real family celebration and very enjoyable. Let Jesus the Messiah be Praised Now and Forever!
We are so grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Passover with our Mishpochah (family) in Louisville. We are especially grateful to Deacon Franco and Ellie Cottrell who lead the Havurah and for all the members of the Havurah who made this evening so special.
Here are some pictures of the Seder in Louisville:
Report from the Burnt Hills Havurah by Joanie and Arnold Bellmer
(This update was originally written on 2/10/15)
The year 2014 bore much fruit. We now have 18 members from 7 states in the US and South Africa. (There are now 21 members on our last communication.) Our members are involved in their parishes as well as social outreach to the poor and the unborn. On a local level we continue to connect with a couple of local Jewish Synagogues for morning prayers and “onegs” on occasion. We also have connected with the local chapter of Hadassah and with their fund-raising for trees in Israel.
The community meals continue between the local Reform Jewish Synagogue and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church. For Christmas, members were given little gift bags loaded with Miraculous Medals and some scapulars to share with family and friends.
At this time we would like to thank Bill Hodge from New Zealand for his beautiful article on Hanukkah and Torah Incarnate. (Winter 2013-2014 edition of The Hebrew Catholic.) Also our thanks to Bill Windel and his article on Christmas, and to Dr. Feingold for his article on the Annunciation which will be copied and sent to our members. We look forward to where the Ruach haKodesh leads us this year.
May you all go from blessing to blessing,
Joanie and Arnold Bellmer
From our Visit with Joanie and Arnold in May of 2015:
We just came home from a short but wonderful visit with Joanie and Arnold. Before now, we have only had the privilege of knowing them over the phone. Knowing them now in person is such a delight. We spent a wonderful afternoon sharing all the news from our homes, families, and havurot. We also shared some time before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle and attended Holy Mass together. Joanie and Arnold shared that their Havurah is growing. It is a very unique Havurah in that there are no meetings, and Joanie does her best to respond to the needs of each individual. Since almost all the members are scattered around the world, she spends many hours writing letters and making phone calls to connect with the members. We have dubbed this Havurah as our “Missionary” Havurah for its unique approach. As you can imagine, Joanie and Arnold are warm and caring folks who have a deep love for our Lord, for the AHC, and their Havurah. We are so grateful to have met them in person and hope to spend more time with them in the future.
Ken and Flora Wilsker
(From left to right) Ken Wilsker, Joanie Bellmer, Paul Wilsker,
Arnold Bellmer, and Flora Wilsker
From the Light to the Nations Havurah
I’m happy to report that the Light to the Nations Havurah (Houston, Texas) just held our first Passover Seder. The way it turned out is interesting. The havurah was keen on celebrating the Seder this year. Originally, our plan was to have it at St. Vincent’s on Holy Saturday. As you recall, after discussing this further, we realized logistically that this option would have limitations. The Saturday before Palm Sunday was in turn selected as the next viable option. Therefore, at our last meeting, we decided we could host the event at St. Vincent’s that Saturday. However, I found out that although the parish facilities are open on Saturday, they normally close around 1pm. As a result, no space was available. We had then discussed hosting it at one of our homes. However, that too presented constraints for the members. Given that time was ticking, and we really wanted the Seder to become a reality, one of the members and I decided to meet and brainstorm where we could host it. Deidra and I met at a popular diner in the West University area that Tuesday. Bill, another LTTNH member, met up with us, too. I can’t recall who suggested this (me, Bill, or Deidra), but one of us thought, “Why not just have it here?” The three of us were soon in agreement.
Bill, Deidre, and I decided soon afterwards who was getting what and left for the evening. During the next few days, I emailed the group copies of the latest Haggadah published on the Association of Hebrew Catholics’ webpage. Soon enough, the day of the Seder came. We met up at 6pm at the restaurant. I explained to the manager what we planned on doing, and he was very supportive and okayed it. We brought all materials needed and set up on one of the outdoor tables. We then began reciting the Haggadah. While reciting the introduction, a strong wind blew across our table. I’m wondering if the Almighty was sending us a sign. The wind died out but came back during the Seder one or two more times. Once we made it to the dinner portion, we ordered our respective meals and ate them. Once finished, we concluded the Seder and headed home.
All in all, I am pleased that our group gathered in the spirit of Passover fellowship. The Passover Seder is a fitting complement to Holy Week.
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO SHARED YOUR NEWS FROM THE DIASPORA. WE HOPE TO HEAR FROM ALL OF YOU AND OTHERS NEXT TIME.
Ken and Flora Wilsker