Ken and Flora Wilsker
Shalom Havurim (Friends),
In this issue of the AHC Havurah Newsletter we wish to touch on several topics. One obvious one will be the Fall Feasts of Israel, “the High Holidays”. We also want to begin a discussion on the work of the Lord through the havurot and what the purpose of these groups is all about. We will also bring you news from the havurot around the world.
First, let’s take a look at the dates for the High Holidays of the year 5774.
The month of Elul: starts on the eve of Aug. 6 and runs to Sept. 4
Rosh Hashanah: starts on the eve of Sept. 4
Yom Kippur: starts on the eve of Sept. 13
Succot: starts on the eve of Sept. 18 and runs to Simchat Torah on Sept. 27.
OK, so you might be asking yourself: what is significant about the month of Elul? We are so glad you asked! In Judaism, the entire month which precedes the month that contains all the High Holidays is a month of deep introspection and repentance. In terms of days, this roughly corresponds to the number days of Advent and Lent that we use in the Church to prepare ourselves for the birth of the Messiah at Christmas and for the Passion of our Messiah at Easter.
In traditional Judaism the shofar is blown from the first day of Elul. For those of you who are not familiar with the shofar, this is wind instrument that is prepared from the hollowing out of a ram’s horn. Sometimes we in the Church refer to this as a “trumpet” as in 1 Thes 4:16.
In Blu Greenberg’s classic book, How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household, the sounding of the shofar summons up the image of Isaac, bound and ready to be sacrificed. (This is an obvious foreshadowing of our Messiah, Yeshua at Calvary). It also recalls the experience of the Revelation at Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. (We recall the giving of the Messiah to us as the Living Law). It also warns us, as taught by the most famous Rabbi Maimonides, to wake up from our deep sleep. We are to rekindle our relationship with God and with our spouses, children, and friends. It also wakes us up from our complacency when it comes to our ethics and moral behavior and to forgive others when they transgressed against us. (Rabbi Yeshua taught us this in the Lord’s Prayer) We are reminded that God is forgiving as long as we decide to turn back to God’s way and ask for His forgiveness. As Catholics this is reminiscent of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
All Jews around the world are encouraged to examine their consciences during the month of Elul in preparation for Yom Kippur which comes about 40 days following the 1st of Eullul. This is clearly fulfilled in the Church during the periods of Advent and especially Lent. The concept of repentance is captured in the Hebrew word, teshuvah. Teshuvah means not only being sorry for our sins and forgiving others, but is literally turning back to G-d in love and truth. In Judaism this is to be done all year long but especially during this sacred period. This should sound very familiar to all Catholics. We are to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation all through the year but with special emphasis during Advent and Lent. In solidarity with our Jewish brethren around the world, let us pray for the complete teshuvah that can only come through the Messiah, Yeshua and His Church. We pray for the conversion of souls. This is a time when almost all Jewish people become more focused on God and getting right with Him. So let us be aware of this and be ready to shine the light of Yeshua for them through our lives and with our words.
The first day of the 7th month of Tishri in the Hebrew calendar, and the first day following the end of Elul, is Rosh Hashanah. This year is 5774. In the Book of Leviticus: 23:24-25, the Lord asks us to blast the horn (shofar/trumpet) and come together to pray. Later in Jewish tradition this is also reckoned as the anniversary of the beginning of Creation and so the New Year is celebrated for this reason. In Rabbi Hayim Donins’ classic book, To Be a Jew, he explains clearly how this came to be on page 243.
“The number of years since Creation was arrived at by the Sages by going back over all the records then in existence, reviewing the Biblical record in terms of personal life spans, equating the years mentioned in early chapters of Genesis as equivalent to our own, and regarding the seven days of Creation as days like our own. That those seven “days” of Creation may in fact have been time periods of extremely long duration, that they correspond to “stages” rather than to days similar to our own twenty-four-hour day, does not detract from the spiritual and ethical significance of the Creation as the conceptual basis of the Jewish year. It is what the number 5774 stands for and what it implies–God’s sovereignty over the universe–that is important, not the technical or scientific accuracy of the account, for no exact figure is possible.” (See CCC 337 to see how our own Catholic view comes from this traditional Jewish view of Creation).
As Catholics this would be a great day to make a special effort to attend Holy Mass in solidarity with our “elder brothers and sisters”, and to acknowledge this time with our Jewish friends, neighbors, and co-workers with a card or some good wishes in person for a Happy and Healthy New Year. Those of us who are Hebrew Catholic might want to spend time with family or invite our Catholic brothers and sisters in our Havurah for a special dinner or meeting of the havurah to commemorate this event. On the “new” AHC website there are some good materials to use and the AHC Havurah Newsletter – Volume 1, also has some good resources for traditional food for this joyous occasion.
Yom Kippur is 10 days later. The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Days of Awe in Jewish tradition. It is a time for prayer and fasting. It can be an awesome time for all Catholics, especially those associated with a havurah. to pray and fast in solidarity with our Jewish brethren. for the forgiveness of sin and conversion that can only come through the Lamb of God, who is our Messiah, Yeshua. This would be the a great time to attend Holy Mass and spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or time before the Tabernacle in your Churches around the world. As many Jews get together after sundown of Yom Kippur to eat a meal and break the fast, you too could come together to break the fast at Church, someone’s home, or even a restaurant. This is the link to the section for Yom Kippur on the new AHC site,
Succot is the next Feast that follows after Yom Kippur. Succot is a festival that commemorates the fall harvest. It is time when traditional Jewish families and synagogues will build a structure (booth) that has an open roof and is decorated with the harvest theme. Many traditional Jewish families will eat their meals during this week in this structure called a succah.
According to Blu Greenberg, on pgs 342-343, “the succah (booth) is a reminder to all generations that God redeemed the people of Israel from Egypt like a loving, caring parent”. This saving grace is commemorated by living (or at least eating) for seven days in the succah. As Catholics we too can commemorate the saving grace of God when he saved us from the bondage of sin and we now can be assured of our Heavenly resting place with him as long as we continue to tabernacle or live in close relationship to our Messiah and His Church. The booths that are open to the heavens allow us to remain “open” to God. Every Catholic Church in the world has a Tabernacle where our Lord dwells, in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. What a perfect time for each of us and as a Havurah to spend as much time with God in the Tabernacle or in front of him in the Blessed Sacrament as possible. Here is the link for Succot on the new AHC site:
Lastly at the end of this 7 day period of Succot there is a time called Simchat Torah or the Joy of Torah. At this time the scroll of the Torah reaches the end of the Book of Deuteronomy and must be rerolled to Genesis 1:1. It is a time when there is much joy as the Word of God is celebrated. As Catholics we also love God’s word, especially as Yeshua, the Living Word. We can relate to this practice, for at the start of each Advent we start a new cycle of readings as begin our new Liturgical year and prepare for the Birth of our Messiah and his immanent return at the end of time.
The parallels between ancient Judaism and our Catholic faith are quite obvious and it should be exciting to all of us to see how Catholicism specifically is the fulfillment of ancient Judaism. Let us also take this time to be sensitive to our “elder brothers” in the faith and to pray for the salvation of all Israel, for the renewal of their faith, and for the renewal of our own relationships to Yeshua and to His Kehilat (His Church)!
We also promised to begin our examination of the vision of the Havurah as first developed by our President, David Moss. We will give you the link to the pamphlet on the new AHC website so you can refer to this as we begin our discussion.
Upon request, David will be happy to mail a copy of the printed Havurah flyer to anyone who requests it.
David calls the Havurah a “work of hope”. Our founder, Father Elias Friedman envisioned that the work of the Association in general would foster the regermination of a Hebrew community in the Church. We also believe that the havurot can be instrumental in developing a love and understanding for the Jewish people both in and outside the Church as God continues to draw all people to Himself. David envisioned the work of the havurot as a vehicle to help drive this vision.
We will begin to examine the vision that David laid out for us in this Newsletter and continue to develop this in subsequent issues of this Newsletter. We want to be sure that we all know and, hopefully, share this vision as we develop and grow the havurot around the world.
“An AHC Havurah, formed by as few as two people, would meet on a regular basis for prayer, study, fellowship or celebration of the Hebrew Catholic liturgical year. The AHC havurot will provide a place where people can meet:
• to develop an intimate, orthodox, spirit-filled community committed to mutual support and spiritual growth
• to pray together for the needs of the AHC, the People Israel, and the Church
There will be more to share but we will stop here for this issue. We are going to include some prayers that we can all use in our havurot as we pray for the People Israel during this very sacred season of grace for them, as they earnestly seek after the God of Israel.
These prayers are all approved by the Magisterium
This first prayer is from the Good Friday Solemn Intercessions, Novus Ordo
Let us pray also for the Jewish people,
To who the Lord our God spoke first,
That he may grant them to advance in the love of his name
And in faithfulness to his covenant.
Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this though Christ our Lord. Amen
From the Extraordinary Form:
Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.
Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters Your Church, all Israel may be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
These are good examples of prayers that you can use this time of year and all year long at our havurah meetings as we pray for the salvation of all Israel and for the entire world and the Church. In Romans 11:15, God promises that their (Israel’s) acceptance means life from the dead. That is salvation for all who come to believe that Jesus the Jewish Messiah is the Savior of the whole world. How God will do this and when, is a mystery. We know that God always fulfills his promises, Baruch HaShem! (Praise His Name!).
We pray for the intercession of Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle and St. Edith Stein for all of you and all the havurot around the world.
L’Shana Tova b’Yeshua HaMashiach (Happy New Year in Jesus the Messiah),
Ken and Flora Wilsker, email@example.com
Finally we promised news of the havurot from the Diaspora:
Thanks to everyone who sent in a report. We hope to hear from more of you on the next issue.
From Almond Blossom Havurah of British Columbia, Canada
Dear Ken and Flora,
Here is our little bit of news – what we have done since spring and hope to do in the fall.
1- We watched dvd- The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler – who rescued Jewish children during the Holocaust.
2- We watched dvd series on How to Pray and Intercede effectively for Israel, the Land and the People.
3- We also watched a short dvd on Saving Syrian Jews- Judy Feld Carr – you can find this on Youtube- an incredible modern day Esther. People are truly amazed that this is happening in our time.
4- 12th October- at St Matthews parish in Surrey,BC – which is greater Vancouver – Fr Augustine Obiwumma- is hosting a work-shop on The Lessons of the Holocaust and Christian Intercession to-day. He will be doing the opening remarks on the importance of acknowledging that Jesus was a Jew and to educate ourselves on our Jewish Roots etc.
He was very friendly with Sr Maria Domenica whose story was written up in the last issue of The Hebrew Catholic – so I feel sure she will be interceding for him and his parish to be greatly used by God in this area. His parish is big and has a school attached- and his hope is to also bring some education into the school.
Unfortunately, I am 5 hours away, but Bonnie – who is the Regional Director for the ICEJ in Western Canada will be available on the ground to help where she can.
I definitely see Pope John Paul 11’s comments coming true- that when we start to acknowledge the common roots linking Christianity and the Jewish People- and develop a self-knowledge as Christians- there will start to be a healing of divisions between Churches. I note that Mark Neugebauer is often listed in the ICEJ events section as one of their valued guests speakers.
Please put this work-shop in your prayers as I believe this to be Gods work and His agenda- therefore we have to be sensitive as to how we handle it.
5- In November we hope to do the following – Fr Dale has approved the schedule.
We meet on the Fridays and will do the following.
RAHAB – Are you the person called to hang the scarlet thread out the window of your family tree in order to bring salvation?
RUTH and NAOMI – Are you called to follow in the footsteps of Ruth- and if so what does that mean?
ESTHER – Are you called to be a modern-day Esther?
MARY – if we take Mary as our role-model of a Christ-centered life, do we understand her life-style, culture and faith?
Love and prayers – Gail Mobbs
From the Light of Prayer Havurah by Tammy Palubicki
Hi Ken and Flora,
I hope all is well with you both!
We had our second havurah meeting and it was enjoyed by all. We are studying Dr. Brant Pitre’s book, The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. We listened to the CD the first meeting and started with Chapter 1 for the second. There was good discussion and I know we could have gone on for hours. It really has given a new light on the Eucharist.
Each month we are also celebrating through prayer and discussion of the Jewish feasts and how they relate to the Catholic faith. This is another eye opening experience when you start breaking down the symbols, prayers and traditions.
Right now we are a group of 8 who are meeting at a Hermitage. We are meeting in one of the cabins and have been allowed to decorate it in a Jewish style with many items from Israel. We also have a library setup with many reference and informational books on the Jewish heritage and traditions that can be checked out. Some of us are really interested in studying about the Jewish roots of our faith, so the books won’t be on the shelf for long.
Also, I have a prayer request for a Jewish woman who is interested in joining us, but is hesitant and is not sure where she fits in.
The Light of Prayer Havurah
From St. Jude Catholic Community Havurah in Florida
I did not get a chance to add the following information in my previous email. We are currently reading and discussing Rabbi Stephen M. Wylen’s, Settings of Silver, An Introduction to Judaism. We want to know more about the Jewish religion so that we can appreciate our own Jewish roots of the Church.
Our havurah, in conjunction with Queen of Peace Church, has invited Mr. Roy Schoeman to speak about his fabulous conversion story. He will speak in the beautiful Queen of Peace Church in Ocala on Sunday, November 10 at 3:P.M. Please pray that we can have a well-attended audience for him.
We’re working on visiting a synagogue in the future; we would also like to work with a local Jewish group on some activity of common interest.
Please pray for us so that our group will grow spiritually and in numbers; we are currently 5.
Until next time, Blessings to all.
From Miriam Mystical Rose Havurah in Indianapolis, Indiana
Although members of the Miriam Mystical Rose Havurah were saddened by the move of leaders Ken and Flora Wilsker to Louisville last year, we decided to stay together and continue meeting as a group to learn more about our Faith and its Jewish roots. Since most members of the group live in Fishers, IN, that is where we meet on a monthly basis. We had a mini-Seder during Lent, and since then have been meeting to discuss the book of James from the Scott Hahn Study Bible.
Our next meeting this month will finish out our study of James. In addition, we will be considering whether to study next the small but excellent booklet, Judaism from a Catholic Perspective, by Roy Schoeman and also decide how we want to grow our group. Several members have mentioned the Hebrew Catholic Association to some friends, and there appears to be interest.
Joe and Laurel Destefano
From the Miriam, Our Lady of the Miracle Havurah in Louisville, Kentucky
The Havurah in Louisville is proud to report that in June we finished the study of an article from the Hebrew Catholic entitled, All in the Family: Christians, Jews, and God, by Michael Forrest and David Palm. Our Pastor at the time was very impressed with the theological background of the article and was very supportive that we were laying a very solid framework for the havurah. Our members were amazed at the theological mistakes and difficulties that are out there in different parts of our community and feel now they are ready to promote and defend what the Church really teaches as opposed to the errors of Dual Covenant Theology and Extreme Supersessionism.
The article is in issue 90 of The Hebrew Catholic and we highly recommend this study for your havurah. Be sure to share this with your Pastor and other Catholics for further consideration.
We took the month of July off as we experienced a change in the leadership of our Parish. We just recently met with our new Priest/Pastor and he is very enthusiastic and supportive of the work of the havurah. So we rejoice that God keeps putting up green lights for us here in Kentucky.
In August we are planning to study and discuss a booklet written by Roy Schoeman entitled, Judaism, from a Catholic Perspective. We find that many Catholics outside of cities with larger Jewish communities have limited contact with Judaism and Jewish people, so we feel this booklet will allow our havurah to gain some important exposure and basic knowledge. There seems to be quite a bit of enthusiasm as we begin this study. We will also discuss the High Holidays so everyone is familiar and ready to pray and fast during this sacred season of Grace.
We are planning to study the Brant Pitre book, Jesus and The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, next.
We wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year,
Ken and Flora Wilsker
From the St. Edith Stein Havurah in St. Louis, Missouri
In our group we have started watching a wonderful DVD series, Civilization and the Jews, narrated by Israeli diplomat and politician, Abba Eban. It is a fascinating journey through history, marking various epochs by what was happening with the Jews and the
surrounding culture at that time.
A brief overview: Survival of the Jewish people continued to be paramount, as they were alternately welcomed peacefully in some eras and lands, and in the next were driven out and all their possessions confiscated. Landless, friendless exiles, but endowed with the permanent legacy of God’s authentic holy laws, they resettled wherever they could until the next ruling authority determined their fate. All their achievements and prosperity in any nation were typically viewed as a commodity, to be utilized or seized at any time.
All this sorrowful journeying of the Jews through time was in preparation for giving us Jesus our Messiah, the Crucified One. We have completed 4 of the 9 one-hour programs. We look forward to the remaining sessions! David hopes to make this DVD series available to loan to other havurot. If you’re interested, please email David.
God bless you all!
(We also want to report for you that there is some talk about a Havurah forming in Baltimore, Md. Let us all pray that God would continue to open up doors and hearts of Priests and leaders to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Ken and Flora Wilsker)
From The Havurah of Burnt Hills, New York
As shared by Joannie Bellmer with Ken and Flora
Joannie reports that after much prayer, there are now 6 people in the new havurah! They did have to persevere through some misunderstanding from some people who had some difficulty recognizing the Jewishness of Catholicism. So now with a strong nucleus they are moving forward with God’s plans.
She tells us that they start their meeting with a decade of the Rosary and recite the Litany of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which honors her Queenship. They continue in intercessory prayer for each other and for anyone they know who needs prayer. They ask for the intercession of St. Edith Stein and Our Lady of the Miracle.
Then they bring up questions about the Jewish roots and they discuss the lives of famous Hebrew Catholics from Honey from the Rock by Roy Schoeman. They will expand their studies to include other resources that are mentioned in issue 90 of The Hebrew Catholic.
She tells us that there is so much enthusiasm to pray, study, and share. They are very encouraged.
(We also want to report that Joannie has been busy sending out special gifts to the havurot around the world in commemoration of the Jewish New Year. Joanie, we thank you so much for your generosity and love for all the members of the havurot, we know that it comes straight from your love of our Messiah and our Blessed Mother.)
From The Fellowship of St. Joseph – 2012-2013 Report, Toronto, Ontario
We began our second full year at Blessed Trinity with much anticipation and excitement to see what the Lord would do. All of the teachings were done with PowerPoint presentations.
Because our meeting night fell on the actual day in September, Mark did a teaching on the Jewish fast day of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. Many people asked questions concerning modern Jewish practices and we discussed the Biblical passages relating to this most holy of days.
In October we had a teaching on the Mass of the Early Believers. It was truly amazing and encouraging to realize that our faith practices are not so very different from those early Christians; and that they have antecedents in Jewish liturgy and practice.
Advent was a great time to start a series on the Prophecies of the Messiah from the Old Testament with their fulfillment in the New. In November Mark did part one and continued in December. We also had a Hanukah party after the December meeting, complete with tiny jelly donuts and the lighting of the menorah all fulfilled in Jesus as the Light of the World.
In January we presented the topic “The Catholic Church and Israel – Discussions on the Ongoing Relationship between the Vatican and the State of Israel.” The talk was very well received and many questions were raised and answered.
Our dear friend, Fr. Eric Rodrigues, MC to Cardinal Collins, came in February to unpack the Roman Canon for us. His topic was the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Liturgy. We were challenged to see the Mass in a new light and our participation in it as precious.
March brought many changes and challenges to our church. Our beloved Pope Benedict XVI stepped down, paving the way for the election of Pope Francis. We soon learned of his love for the Jewish people and his desire to visit Israel.
Lent also came in March and Mark began the Lenten portion of his series on Messianic Prophecies – The Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah. In April he continued the series with a verse-by-verse discussion of Isaiah 53. This special chapter has been instrumental in bringing many Jewish people to faith in Jesus the Messiah.
Fr. Eric returned in May to tell us about his adventures in Rome while Cardinal Thomas Collins was busy attending the conclave. He spoke about meeting a very humble African cardinal. He also told us about his visit with the Sisters of Charity, Mother Theresa’s order, where Fr. Eric had the opportunity to see the sisters in action with some of the poorest of the poor.
Finally in June, we had our traditional movie and popcorn night. This year we showed the film of the musical play, The Covenant. Originally performed in Israel, this version was performed and filmed in Toronto several years ago. Created by ICEJ, the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, the play depicts the history of Israel from the call of Abraham to the creation of the modern State of Israel. It beautifully includes the stories of David, Esther, Daniel and his companions, the ministry of Jesus, the persecution of the Jews throughout Europe and culminating in the holocaust and the creation of the State. The lovely, haunting music, beautiful costumes and well acted roles gave many their first introduction to the history of our people.
On the teaching side of our havurah, Mark had the opportunity to speak at an Evangelical church group, Intercession for Israel. He did a three part series on the Jewish Wedding and its relationship to our faith. We have had several more invitations to bring these and other presentations in the fall.
With donations from our members, we were able to purchase a new projector to connect to the old laptop we use for the Power Points. This was such a blessing as not all places we are invited to have access to one.
So another year is in the planning stages. We have lined up some wonderful guest speakers, Fr. Eric and Fr. Dominic will be back as well as a guest from the USA. In April we are hoping to do a Passover presentation. Also we will be viewing about 5 episodes over the year of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism series.
We could not do any of this without the unconditional love and support of our pastor, Msgr. Ambrose Sheehy and the staff of Blessed Trinity Parish.
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