Print Friendly, PDF & Email

AHC Havurah Newsletter

Vol 4, May 2013
Ken and Flora Wilsker

Shalom Havurim (friends)

The theme for the Spring Feasts of Israel is “The 3 R’s”. Most of us think of the 3 R’s as reading, writing, and (a)rithmetic, but our 3 R’s refer to Redemption, Resurrection, and Revival. We are now approaching the Spring Harvest Festival of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, as we refer to this in the Church. Just as Passover and Easter are inseparable, so are Shavuot and Pentecost. Shavuot on the Jewish calendar this year falls on May 15,16. Pentecost falls on May 19.

Our first R is for Redemption which we celebrated this past Passover and Holy Thursday. Then on Easter Sunday we celebrated the Resurrection. The Spring Festival that immediately follows Passover is Sefirat Haomer or The Counting of the Sheaves (Lev 23:9-14). It is also called Yom Habikkurim or the Feast of First Fruits, and this was the barley harvest. The counting of the Sheaves lasted 49 days, and on the 50th day was Shavuot, thus Pentecost, which means 50.

In the New Testament, this holiday is connected to the Resurrection as in I Corinthians 15:20-23. St. Paul here is making a reference to the Resurrection of our Messiah as the fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits. This is another example of how G-d fulfills the Old Covenant in the New. It was imperative for the Messiah to die on Passover and be raised from the dead on First Fruits!

The countdown for Shavuot begins on the Feast of First Fruits, or 2 days after Passover. It is customary to count up to the day of Shavuot, which is also a celebration of the spring harvest, and this time it is the wheat. Shavuot is one of the 3 feasts for which Jews would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem, if possible. It is a celebration of thanksgiving to our Lord.

Shavuot, which translates 7 weeks, is 49 days after Pesach; Pentecost, which translates 50, comes 50 days after Easter. As we uncover the significance of this Jewish feast day we will see how it relates to our faith in the Messiah, Jesus. We also want to share some ideas on how to acknowledge and celebrate this feast in our havurot.

As Catholics, we traditionally celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the Church and the giving of the Holy Spirit to all believers. As we uncover the Jewish roots of this day, we will discover another level of significance that will enhance our lives as Catholic followers of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.

Traditionally, the Jewish community recognized this as the day that Moses received the Law (Torah) and delivered it to the people. The synagogue is decorated with greenery, flowers, and baskets of fruit, symbolizing the abundant harvest. The book of Ruth is also read since it takes place during the spring harvest. Another custom for some is an all-night study of Torah. At home the foods are those made from milk products and cheese. Cheese blintzes and cheesecake are traditional. Yum!

The New Testament fulfillment for this is found in the giving of the living Torah, Jesus. He sent the third person of the Trinity, the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) into the hearts of His apostles, and the New Israel, the Church, was revealed. (Acts: 2:1-5, 12) G-d promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34, that He would write the Torah in our hearts. So the major theme of Shavuot is revival, which is the third R. Let us pray for the revival of all Israel (Rom 11:26), and by extension the whole world. (Rom 11:15) We believe that this revival has already started, as we see a major growth in the number of Hebrew Catholics and Jewish Christians, as in the early days of the Church.

As we celebrate Shavuot in our havurot and homes, let us pray for the continued outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh.

Chag Sameach! (Hebrew) Gut Yontif! (Yiddish) Happy Holiday! We keep all of you in our prayers.

Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle and St. Edith Stein pray for us.

Shalom b’Yeshua (Peace in Jesus),

Ken and Flora Wilsker
Louisville, KY USA (new email)

For more information on Shavuot you can go to:

(Some of this material was taken from God’s Appointed Times by Barney Kasden)

Below are some updates from havurot around the world: Thanks to everyone who sent stories and pictures of your Seder and other updates.


Report from Ken and Flora Wilsker
Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle Havurah in Louisville, KY USA

Flora Wilsker

Flora Wilsker 

Ken Wilsker & Fr. Dominic Fields

Ken Wilsker & Fr. Dominic Fields

We celebrated our first Parish Seder on March 21st. We were blessed to have David and Kathleen Moss attend and assist us. We used this for a springboard to start the new havurah in Louisville, KY USA. We had about 25/30 attendees, including our Pastor at St. Louis Bertrand Parish, and our own Deacon Franco Cottrell and his wife, Ellie. Also among the attendees was an entire family which included a Mom and Dad and about 5 kids…I lost count. We had 2 other Jewish attendees. One came from a Jewish father and Catholic mother and was brought up Catholic. He came with his wife and mother-in-law who encouraged him to rediscover his Jewish roots. Also in attendance was one Jewish man who is married to a Catholic and who is still on the journey. They have since joined our havurah and are continuing their studies along with his exploration of the Catholic faith. Pray for Andrew and his wife Julie. We had many others who were hungry to know more about the Jewish roots of their Catholic faith.

Dcn Franco Cottrell

Dcn Franco Cottrell

Desert Table

Desert Table

We did something very unusual and unique, and that is we had a “supperless” Seder. That’s right, no food. Oy vey! We did not have the time or the resources to do the meal, so we had all the Seder elements at each of the 5 tables. Then we had some noshies. We had macaroons, of course. We discovered that our Pastor, Fr. Dominic Fields, loves coconut macaroons with a dash of chocolate. Go figure! And we had the chocolate-covered jelly rolls. We alternated the reading of the Haggadah so that all participated, and we made it through the entire Haggadah in about 2 hours with the break for the noshies. During the time we would have eaten our full Passover meal, some of us who were from Jewish homes shared our experiences and stories of our family Seders. This helped all those Catholics who were not from Jewish homes realize the joy and the significance of Passover. Everyone seemed to really love the sharing of stories.

The feedback was very positive, and there were a few “ah ha” moments for us as we discovered the roots of our faith, especially the connection to the Holy Mass. In fact, we invited all of them to attend the havurah that was starting in a few weeks. We had many who committed to coming to the havurah from this Seder, including Andrew and Julie. Thus began the Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle Havurah. We had our first meeting in May. We had about 20 in attendance for our first meeting, and we decided to start our study in June with an article from the last issue of The Hebrew Catholic entitled, “All in the Family: Christians, Jews, and God”, by Michael Forrest and David Palm. We also decided to meet the third Thursday of each month starting in June, and our Pastor has allowed us to put an ad in the bulletin inviting more to join. We hope that we can be a blessing to many Catholics discovering their Jewish roots, and we hope that others will discover that they actually have Jewish roots! 

We also know that the Miriam, Mystical Rose Havurah in Indianapolis, IN had a wonderful Seder in the home of Joanne and Richard Larsen. This is our former havurah, and we are very proud that they are carrying on the tradition, thanks to the dedication of all the members of that group and the coordination of Joe and Laurel Destefano.

Ken and Flora Wilsker
Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle Havurah
Louisville, KY USA

St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church


Report by Gail Mobbs, Almond Blossom Havurah, Coldstream, BC Canada

On Holy Thursday, we held a Seder Meal in the narthex of Our Lady of the Valley parish in Coldstream, BC.

Fr. Dale Normandeau

Fr. Dale Normandeau

We set up the day before for 40 people. The décor is blue and white. We request $5.00 towards the lamb and the wine, and then everyone brings a dish towards the meal. This works really well. The blue and white paper plates and napkins we keep for the following year.

Before beginning the Seder, we gave a brief explanation of the décor and format of the ritual, and then Father Dale Normandeau led us through the Haggadah.

I started the Seder meals because I felt we need to see that our Christian faith rests on the Jewish faith – that’s our foundation. Mentally we may know that, but I think experiencing rituals such as the Seder meal takes this understanding to a deeper level.

Quote from Judy Bratten:

“God, in His Wisdom, provided very tangible and memorable ways for the children of Israel to pass on their faith to their children, to ensure the continuation of the Jewish people as a nation, and to teach them and others His ways.

“The feasts and holidays which punctuate the Hebrew year provide not only opportunities to celebrate communally, but also to hear and proclaim God’s Word, to re-live lessons in Jewish history, and to echo messages of hope and consolation through the generations.”


Report from Br. Gilbert of the Divine Presence, Bnei Miriam Havurah, Perth, Australia

Dear Ken,

I celebrated two Seders this year- one at our Presbytery with the members of our havurah, Bnei Miriam, and some other members of our parish. We had 14 adults and 4 children crammed into our small lounge room. We had two tables and a little table with a cushion to sit on for the two youngest children. I was in a lot of back pain but managed to get everything organised in stages. Tyson (soon to be consecrated as Brother Francis of the Mystical Rose, a Catholic who has maternal Jewish ancestry) took me shopping in the morning. Daniel (a lay helper to our community) a few days earlier took me to the kosher shop and a wine shop that sells kosher wine. Both these young men (in their twenties) attended the Seder. Here in Perth, there is only one kosher shop situated in the car park of the synagogue and one wine shop that sells kosher wine. I also went to the Synagogue bookshop to buy more Passover Haggadot and kippas. I met one of the Rabbis who was very interested in me, as I was dressed in my consecrated brother habit, and we had a very warm conversation while I told him about the two Seders I was leading. He was especially interested that I was a Hebrew Catholic and that I was holding one of the Seders with Hebrew Catholic members of my family. We held a traditional Seder in English with some of the blessings, such as the ones over four cups, in Hebrew and English. The meal turned out perfectly with the assistance of Callum (who is soon to be consecrated as Brother John Joseph of the Immaculate Womb, also with some Jewish ancestry). Unfortunately Callum was unable to attend the actual Seder. However, Tyson and another young man Nicky (an Indian who grew up in the Middle East, who along with Callum and Tyson is considering a vocation to the priesthood) assisted with the serving of the meal. The 4 children enjoyed opening the door and rushing out looking for Elijah, and I of course secretly drank the wine of Elijah’s cup at the end of the Seder and pretended that it was Elijah. The four children also read the part in the Haggadah about the four sons.

The next day I went to my cousin’s house where we have held a Passover Seder for the last 5 years, and it has become a real tradition. We were small in numbers this year with only my cousin Gaye (who this time did most of the cooking) and four of her 6 children, and a friend of mine, Sean, as the guest of honour. Her young daughter, Johanna, made the Haroseth, as she had done an assignment and given a talk on the Passover Seder last year, and she still had the steps for doing everything. We had a very traditional and relaxed Seder and even indulged in a bit of dancing. The kids always love the two songs we usually finish the Seder with – Chad Gad Yo (I bought a kid for two zuzim), and the Number Song which we sing in English. The children in both Seders enjoyed the haggling for money over the Afikomen. We are all looking forward to celebrating it next year (maybe in Jerusalem).

Br Gilbert Seder

Br Gilbert’s Seder

Br Gilbert Seder

Br Gilbert’s Seder



Report by Suzanne and Judith, Holy Family Havurah, Belgium

Shalom Ken and Flora,

Thank you for your support and prayers.

The first Havurah meeting we had on 17 March had a nice start. After the Mass (10.30 am), Judith invited me for dinner, and she offered me a birthday cake.

-We began with a prayer to the Holy Ghost for filling us;

-prayed the Our Father;

-asked Holy Marie and St. Edith Stein to support us;

-prayed: “Let us pray for the Jewish people, that they may accept Jesus and that we may welcome them in the Catholic Church .”

-introduced the AHC;

-read Genesis 12, about the roots of our faith;

-learned the first Hebrew letter, ALEF;

-read about the Jewish Pesach and spoke about the link with the Catholic Pesach;

-listened to a Jewish song;

-gave a prayer of thanksgiving and asked for blessing for our lovely Pope Franciscus and Pope Emeritus Benedictus XVI, AHC, all the havurot, the Jewish people, Israel, and our own intentions.

This was the program, and it was joyful .

We wish you a Blessed Easter,

Suzanne and Judith


Report from Tammy Palubicki, The Light of Prayer Havurah, Winona, MN USA

Hi Ken,

I would like to send you an update on our havurah, maybe for the newsletter.

We are calling our group, The Light of Prayer Havurah. We will be meeting once a month at a Carmelite Hermitage in Houston, MN. The sisters have been so gracious to allow us to use one of the hermitages (cabins) for our group. We will be able to meet there and also start a library and decorate the interior.

It has been a long winter, still snowing in April and also getting illnesses, so we have been unable to meet until now.

We are going to study a few of the articles from the You Shall be my Witnesses booklet to start, and then hopefully Jewish Identity or another book as we move forward.

I will be the main contact for the group, and we are all very excited to get started!

Also, you mentioned in a previous email about setting up an email account. When it is convenient for you, let me know and I would like to set that up. Thanks!

Blessings and Prayers,
Tammy Palubicki, Winona, MN US


From Mark and Sue Neugebauer,
Fellowship of St. Joseph Havurah, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Here is the flyer for the June meeting of the Fellowship of St. Joseph Havurah in Toronto, Canada. Thanks, Mark and Sue Neugebauer.

Fellowship of St. Joseph

Fellowship of St. Joseph