Ken and Flora Wilsker
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Volume 17 – February 2018
Dear Mishpocha (Family),
We know that this newsletter has been a long time in the works. Thanks for all you do to support the AHC and the havurot movement. We believe this apostolate is the work of the Holy Spirit for such a time as this, and that you are all part of the amazing changes that are happening in the Catholic Church concerning the salvation of all Israel. Please know that we are always available by phone and email to support your efforts in your corner of the world.
We wish for you a blessed Lent, Easter, and Passover season. We pray for resurrection power in your lives, families, and work.
Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us!
Online Community – How Valuable is this to Hebrew Catholics?
by Ken Wilsker
We have been writing recently on building community. We have explored why building a community is invaluable to Hebrew Catholics and all Catholics and Christians. Traditionally speaking, community has always been developed in close physical proximity. Yeshua left us a community that was developed and spread through the world through the power of the Holy Spirit, working in cooperation with the Apostles and then their successors as they physically visited and preached the Good News around the world.
All of us are the recipients and benefactors of their efforts. In every generation, those of us who believe have been entrusted with continuing to build and develop this community. For the past 1700 years or so, there has not been a distinctive physical community of Hebrew Catholics in the Church. (Only after WWII did the Protestant Messianic Jewish movement begin to physically gather together with great momentum and visibility.) In the preceding centuries and until our times, we as Hebrew Catholics have been absorbed into the greater Church community. We are now being entrusted at this time in salvation history to reignite and develop a community that has been dormant for so long.
The challenge lies in the fact that we are spread out all over the world. We come from diverse backgrounds. Some of us identify as Hebrews/Jewish because in one way or another, we discover our Jewish ancestry, but we have very little experience living as Jews in a world that can be hostile. Fortunately, inside the Church, great progress has been made in the last 50 years to undo the institutional anti-Judaism that existed for so long. We have more work to do, but together we are making great strides.
Some of us are from nominal Jewish backgrounds and had a lower level of Jewish observance but still maintained a strong cultural and family Jewish identity. I would mostly fit into this category. Still others are from a more observant Jewish background and have had much experience in living a Jewish life. Many times there is a gap of understanding between all of us.
Now fast forward into the Church, and we bring all our experiences into this faith. You can see how this can be a challenge as we seek to unify and build our community. On top of this, we find that we are spread out around the world, so there is the challenge for us to find other Hebrew Catholics with whom we can fellowship. Even if we find others in our area, we might be from very different backgrounds and levels of observance, and therefore we find it difficult to connect.
Thus we turn to the internet. I myself turned to the internet to find the AHC immediately after my profound experience with Yeshua in the Eucharist. I am grateful to have found the AHC online. Many of us who are receiving this Newsletter have had similar
experiences. As wonderful as the internet and Facebook can be, these are not a substitute for real flesh and blood community.
This is why David Moss has asked Flora and me to develop the havurot movement and help those who are able to begin building havurot communities in your areas. We have only been able to develop a handful of communities up until now. Why? We can only speculate. Could it be that we have become overly reliant on the internet to connect with other Hebrew Catholics? On the one hand, we can understand the attraction. After all, it is very difficult to put ourselves out there in our parishes as Hebrew/Jewish Catholics for fear of rejection.
The other reason might be a part of a much larger issue in our parishes, and that is that very few parishioners seem to have developed a close-knit community. This is more of a cultural issue for our times. Whatever the reason might be, it is absolutely imperative that we do not fall victim to any of these reasons as we seek to build our community.
We maintain that it is impossible to build an enduring and deep-seated community on the internet. We must be willing to overcome our fears and objections to gather together in small communities. For those of us from Jewish backgrounds, this is a place where we can feel safe and allow ourselves to explore what it really means to be Hebrew and Catholic. We also rely on those of us from other diverse backgrounds who extend their hospitality and generosity, drawing us into the larger community while encouraging us to live out the Jewish roots of our faith. So many of us from non-Jewish backgrounds have seen the value of such an endeavor while deepening our faith through a deeper understanding of our Jewish roots.
We need each other in order to build these communities. To this end, we would like to see 2018 be the year that we can see some real growth in the havurot communities. We continue to hear from those of you all over the world who are looking for a community to be a part of. This is your time to step out of your comfort zone. You can rely on the Holy Spirit, the AHC, and other leaders among us as you look to start and build your own communities where you live. A wonderful place to begin could be in the privacy of your own home through your hospitality, inviting and fellowshipping with those who are attracted to the Jewish roots of Catholicism.
Flora and I are dedicated to be there with you every step of the way with prayer, encouragement, and resources. We can do this. The survival of our movement and the salvation of all Israel is at hand. We are here for such a time as this!
So, for those of you who have become reliant on the Facebook group and other internet groups, we ask you to consider taking the next step. It is impossible to build a strong, trusting, and lasting community on the internet alone. Let’s continue to use our online tools to connect and at the same time build our havurot communities all over the world.
We recently asked Mark Neugebauer to write something for the AHC Havurah Newsletter. Mark and his wife Sue live in Toronto, Canada and have been involved with the AHC since 2010 when they both spoke at the AHC Conference held in St. Louis in 2010. Mark and Sue lead the Fellowship of St. Joseph Havurah in Toronto.
They will be sharing their “Journey into the Catholic Church” on EWTN on Feb 26 and March 5 on the show, Journey Home. We usually watch the show on Monday night at 8 pm ET. This would be a great story to DVR so you can watch again and share with others.
Thank you, Mark, for your article, and thanks to you and Sue for your dedication to the AHC and the havurot movement.
Fellowship of St. Joseph Havurah, Toronto
The Facebook site for the AHC is anything but boring. The kinds of queries and discussions from folks far and near are incredibly interesting and illuminating. Sometimes they are challenging and cause us all to think and re-evaluate our positions. It is a kind of survey of things going on in the minds and hearts of Jewish Catholics and our many friends. Nevertheless, for Jewish Catholics to try to fit the Jewish and Catholic worlds into the centre of a kind of Venn Diagram, while trying to be faithful to both, can be puzzling at times. Balance is the key. There are those who rightly revel in the great mercy of God who revealed His Son and His Church to them, but alas, have no longer any desire for their Jewish heritage and history. Then there are others who, though still faithful Catholics, may try to overemphasise Jewishness. Again, the key is balance and a clear, integrated approach; while adhering to the Magisterium, we carefully approach the Jewish roots of the Faith as well as our continuous concern for Israel and the Jewish people. This is especially necessary considering that the Jewish world often rejects us, and the Catholic world may sometimes neither comprehend nor sympathise with our experiences. Reconciling 2000 years of Church history with many more years of Jewish and Rabbinic knowledge and practice can be perplexing, and in our hearts and minds we strive to live there while maintaining integrity and truth.
As a new believer in Yeshua living with my parents, I was not allowed to have any Christian literature at home. My devotional Bible reading consisted of a Hebrew- English Tanakh, which my uncle had given me years previously. Beginning at Genesis and reading through to 2 Chronicles, the Lord did a wonder in my heart—He supernaturally integrated my faith in the Messiah of Israel and His death on the cross and His resurrection, with my Jewish heritage. I saw Jesus through the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures, and that has been my compass till today. Now as a Catholic, I see the forms and traditions of our people pointing to the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament, our beautiful Blessed Mother, and even the furniture in the church building. It is truly a wonder and a marvel of grace and mercy!
One of the issues that faces us in the future is, how do we catechise our young people? This is something the modern Messianic Jewish Movement has been doing quite successfully. How do we face and confront anti-Semitism, even the latent kind that sometimes surfaces in the odd homily or reflection? While they are definitely part of the Gospel, I often wonder why the readings about the Pharisees and Sadducees’ opposing Jesus are read on Sundays to a congregation that may or may not be Biblically literate. In mass at times, my wife and I jokingly turn to each other and say, “There go those bad Jews again!” We feel that perhaps we are carrying an eternal penance on behalf of our people. Truthfully, both those who received Him AND those who did not were ALL JEWS; it was an in-house argument. No-one has the right to pick up that offence when it has nothing historically to do with them, in the same way no-one should speak publicly and negatively about another ethnic or religious group. In addition, we should never publicly castigate other Jewish religious groups, whether they are believers in Yeshua or not. We must always act in love and mercy, praying for each other and encouraging each other.
Then there is the issue about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; how do we discuss and deal with it when there appears to be an unbalanced view expressed either publicly or privately. We hope that the Church will be able to expand its thinking on the State of Israel, and this could be one of the greatest challenges of all, considering the issues that are involved with this eschatologically, theologically, and historically. The best way to inform our brothers and sisters is with love, and with their knowing that we are all on the same side as Holy Mother Church.
Thankfully, the Church has issued brilliant documents since Vatican II. Everyone should have a copy of The Hebrew Catholic No. 100, Summer 2016 handy. Five documents concerning the Jewish people1 are contained in this treasure trove of wisdom. In Toronto, we have printed multiple copies for distribution. Part of our job, besides educating ourselves, is being witnesses to the vocation God has given to us in the Church and the world. Yes, it is a suffering at times, but it is also a joy, for we share the same burden as St Paul in Romans 9-11.2 It is good to know the histories and testimonies of the very many Hebrew Catholics in the past and present to encourage us to see that God is at work and that we are not alone. Who is not excited to learn that Sts. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross both had Jewish forebears, as did St. John of Avila! The fact that the AHC exists at all is a miracle, and we also have the late Fr. Elias, OCD and our beloved David Moss to thank. For we stand on their shoulders, and we owe them a debt of love and thanks for their service to God and His Church, and for praying us into the Kingdom. It is indeed a privilege to be a Hebrew Catholic; thanks be to God for His love and mercy to all of us! Our watchwords must always be, “For the sake of Zion, I will not keep silent” (Isaiah 62.1), and “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither” (Psalm 137.5).
Frs. Alphonse and Theodore Ratisbonne, Bl. Fr. Francis Libermann, Fr. Hermann Cohen, OCD, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), OCD, and other Hebrew Catholic saints, blessed, and friends in heaven, pray for us and for our movement!
1. Nostra Aetate (1965); Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing The Conciliar Declaration “Nostra Aetate” (1974); Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church (1985); We Remember; A Reflection on the Shoah (1998); The Gifts and Callings of God are Irrevocable (2015).
2. 9.1 I am speaking the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen by race. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5 to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.
10.1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
11.1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Hi Ken and Flora.
Feel free to put our flyers in the update. We had several amazing meetings since September including testimonies of Jewish Catholics: Sub-Deacon Shawn Goldman; Fr. Russell Asch; A video of Mother Miriam (Rosalind Moss) and on EWTN LIVE with Fr. Mitch Pacwa; Famous Jewish Catholics (Power Point given by Mark) and Fr. Joseph Alozie on the Jewish background of Baptism and Confirmation.
Coming up we have a “Back to Basics ” talk by Mark on the Jewish Roots of the Faith; a talk on the relationship between Israel and the Vatican; and a presentation by a local artist who creates Icons. We will end the year with a film about Survivors Stories.
Also on Feb. 26 and Mar. 5, Mark and I will be on “The Journey Home” on EWTN.
Of course on May 26th we will be attending Mark’s ordination to the Diaconate at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica!!
We have seen many people moved to tears by the stories. Also attending are non- Catholics and even Jewish seekers.
Thanks for all your work. We appreciate you both so much.
Sue and Mark
St. Edith Stein Havurah, St. Louis
In the Fall of 2017, we embarked on an experiment: to study the Torah in accord with the cycle of readings of the Jewish liturgical year. This cycle divides the five books of the Torah into weekly portions, thus enabling the entire Torah to be read in a year. Because each portion was too much to study during our weekly meeting, we used the study guides produced by Teresa Pirola from her “Light of Torah” website at: http:// lightoftorah.net. These guides focus on a few verses, giving us a taste of Jewish interpretive traditions and what we can do at our own pace at home.
Teresa, a Catholic teacher, spent time at the Bat Kol Institute in Jerusalem, studying Jewish approaches to Scripture. The Bat Kol Institute website can be found at: https:// batkol.info
As part of our experiment, we decided to meet weekly, thereby keeping up with the liturgical cycle. In the beginning of December, we suspended our meetings to deal with some medical issues and so we could all spend the month preparing for Christmas. As it turned out, Kathleen and I then came down with 2 bouts of flu, along with many others who got the flu, and so our meetings have not yet resumed.
Meanwhile, we kept busy as much as possible and produced the latest issue of “The Hebrew Catholic,” #102, and the latest book from The Miriam Press, “The Bride.”
We wish everyone a blessed and fruitful Lent, In Messiah
David and Kathleen
Almond Blossom Havurah, British Columbia
[Ed. Gail Mobbs sent highlights of her recent trip to Israel and her work with the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.]
I have just returned from a wonderful time in Israel – it was an ICEJ 150 Ways to Bless Israel tour.
We did all the Jesus sites but also visited some of our aid projects:
- Home for the Deaf where we upgraded their computer room
- Home for Holocaust Survivors in Haifa- we renovated the community room and installed a bomb shelter – now pay their electricity bills on an on-going basis.
- Home for mentally/physically challenged where we are renovating the bedroom section.
Watched a bomb-shelter being installed at an elementary school – 7 kilometers from the Gaza border- were only there about one and a half hours – heard 2 explosions.
The security person told us what we were hearing was fighting between ISIS and the Egyptian Army – he said at the moment they hate each other more than they hate us – which is good for Israel – but we are preparing for the next war, as it’s not a case of ‘ if’ but ‘when’. Sad to hear.
People had knitted 150 baby hats for newborns / 150 scarves / bought 150 toiletry items etc. / one group from Vernon sewed girls’ dresses to be left with the social worker connected to the new Ethiopian ‘olim’ – immigrants. ICEJ pays the salaries for the mentors in the Shoulder to Shoulder programme which helps the new immigrants become integrated, do their paper work etc.
Visited the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv – an incredible place – I found it to be very emotional, as we could see what the world lost as a result of the Holocaust.
Also visited Magdala – Fr. Tim does an excellent explanation of the history and vision for the complex.
Bumped into a priest from Canada when having lunch at a kibbutz. I asked him if he was taking his group to Yad Vashem. He said ‘no – people could go in their spare time’. I don’t know why Catholic Travel Agents never include Yad Vashem in their schedules – I think it’s a mistake not to.
There are numerous accounts of nuns, priests, convents, and monasteries providing protection for Jewish people – and with all the time I have spent there have never felt uncomfortable being Catholic. I believe the Church is big enough to deal with our past- both good and not so good.
Good to see what your havurah is doing – we are doing much the same – so will find the web-site you gave helpful.
Will pray for wisdom and discernment re the plans for the AHC moving forward.