Ken and Flora Wilsker
Volume 9 – Sept 2014
Shalom Havurim (friends),
We have arrived in St. Louis, and we are now getting settled. The physical move is done, but now comes the spiritual and emotional settling. We dare admit that this will take some time, although being so close to our “family” at the AHC will make it easier and more fun. We are actively seeking a good parish, so please be praying for us. The work of the AHC and the havurot continues here and around the world. We are excited about joining the St. Edith Stein Havurah in St. Louis.
We are all preparing for the High Holy Days. The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a very spiritual and holy time for all Jewish people around the world. For more on why the High Holidays are so special, go to: https://www.hebrewcatholic.net/ahc-havurah-newsletter-vol-5-aug-2013/ As Hebrew Catholics, it is important for us to acknowledge and honor these holy days. How that looks for each of us will be different. For many of us, our havurah will have some way to honor these days, and for others, it will mean doing something individually. We would love to hear how you celebrated and honored these holy days. Send your stories to us so we can include them in the next newsletter. Please feel free to email us at:
or snail mail at: 7701 Shirley Dr. #1W • St. Louis, MO 63105
All of us could be in prayer for conversion of our family, friends, and for all Israel. Now the last time we mentioned “conversion” was on a Facebook message, and one of our relatives got very upset about the word, “conversion”. We understand that this word can have some very negative connotations. After all, for most Jewish people, conversion means that we have abandoned being Jews and have become traitors of some kind. And of course, many Jewish leaders would also claim that we have left the Jewish people and joined the Gentiles. This is sad, indeed. In centuries past, it would have been impossible for Jews to enter the Church and maintain any Jewish identity. We now live in a time of salvation history where Jewish people can enter the Church and maintain their Hebrew heritage, albeit with some challenges.
It is a challenge for many Hebrew Catholics to maintain their heritage since we are scattered all over the world, and rarely have too many of us concentrated in one place. The other challenge is to maintain our identity within an institution that sometimes appears hostile toward our way of life, even though it was the way of life of our founder, Yeshua the Messiah, our Blessed Mother, the Apostles, and the early Church. This brings us to why the AHC Havurot exist.
What we do mean by “conversion is a change of heart”? It means that one comes to believe and live the way of life of the Messiah, Yeshua. This in no way negates Jewishness but actually completes all Jewish people who come to know their Jewish Messiah. Our Catholic faith is the most complete way that both Jews and Gentiles can live and express their Messianic faith. We must be able to share, with both Jewish and Catholic friends and family, the truth in love. We now have the unique opportunity in history to retell and reclaim our heritage both inside the Church and with the Jewish people. Our havurot are great places for us to become equipped to carry out this mission.
Why an AHC Havurah?
David Moss writes: “The AHC Havurah: a work of hope for the People Israel, for the Church. The AHC havurot can help:
- transform the work of the AHC from ideas and conversation into concrete, living realities;
- provide the pastoral support needed for Jews who have entered the Church as well as those who are searching;
- make an important contribution towards enabling the People Israel to fulfill their
- vocation of providing a collective witness to Yeshua.”
Transforming ideas into concrete living realities is already happening, and yet there is so much more to do. We have books to be written and published. For instance, we have heard of projects in the works for a Hebrew Catholic Siddur (prayer book). We have been working with Marty Barrack to develop new materials for the internet. David has more work to be done on the AHC website to make it more interactive for us and available for others to contribute important ideas. Dr. Larry Feingold continues his series of lectures here in St. Louis. Roy Schoeman has a very exciting new Radio show and highlights stories of those of us who have entered the Church, among other topics relevant to Hebrew Catholics and the Church at large. These are just a few of the examples. Undoubtedly, there are many other projects that can be developed as we grow. The AHC and the havurot can be very fertile ground for these kinds of projects.
Providing pastoral support is a very critical part of the ministry of the AHC and the havurot. This past year in Louisville, we had the privilege and honor to encourage the process of a very special young man, Andrew, to enter the Catholic Church. Through the Passover Seder that was conducted by the havurah in Louisville, Andrew and his wife, Julie, discovered us. Then, through the study and pastoral care of the havurah, Andrew entered the RCIA program and entered the Church this past Easter. We hear other stories of havurah members who come into contact with Jewish people who are being called by the Holy Spirit to consider Yeshua the Messiah and His Church. The Holy Spirit is going to use all of us in the havurot to be his instruments of peace and conversion for many of the People Israel. At the moment, it seems like a trickle, but as we are faithful with the small number, so God will entrust us with more. Let’s be faithful with what God has already given us.
We who are part of the havurot, whether from Hebrew heritage or not, are all part of the collective witness to the fact that Yeshua is the Messiah for the world, and that only through Him is true, eternal peace possible. Instead of seeing one “meshuganah” Jew who becomes a Catholic, our People Israel will witness many Jews within the Church who are maintaining their identities and not just becoming, “gentilized”. Our People Israel will also see that the Church, who in the past so often seemed to be against the Jewish people, actually loves and encourages us. Many of our non-Jewish Catholic brothers and sisters wish to collaborate with us in our mutual faith in the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. What a witness to the Jewish people and the world that Jesus really is the Messiah and Lord of all. The havurot can foster this collective witness as God is getting ready to save all Israel before his return. We are sure that we are living in the moment of salvation history that precedes the “life from the dead” and the salvation of all the world upon Yeshua’s return.
To be continued in Volume 10…
A Little News from the Diaspora
From the Burnt Hills Havurah in Upstate NY:
We just got a nice note from Joanie and Arnold Bellmer and the Burnt Hills Havurah in Upstate NY. They write of how grateful they are to have such a unique havurah. They tell us that their members are from so many kinds of backgrounds, and they encourage all members to add their own spirituality to the group.
For instance, last month one of the members had the havurah remembered at a special Mass in their parish. In another parish, the havurah scheduled some time in April of 2015 to have the sanctuary light be offered also in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. Then in August of 2015, the same sanctuary light will also burn as an offering in honor of St. Edith Stein. They also arranged at an Ursuline Chapel to have the havurah remembered on September 8, the birthday of our Blessed Mother.
They go on to share that on August 27th, there was another community meal at their parish, St. Edwards, which took place with members of a local conservative synagogue, Beth Shalom. They marveled at how comfortable and welcomed the members of the synagogue felt coming to St. Edwards to break bread together. Shortly, they plan to share teachings with one another on a regular basis! The bonds of healing and friendship that are being cultivated through this are miraculous.
Also, they know of a local High School teacher who is a friend of the havurah who will be teaching courses on the Holocaust, and the havurah will be providing some memorabilia pertaining to this study to enhance the experience for the students. Joanie discussed with the teacher the concept of Tikkun Olam and how random acts of kindness in such simple ways help to bring healing and help repair the world.
In other news, they tell us that in November of this year, there will be another Judaic Seminar at the Franciscan-run Siena College. (We happen to have a nephew attending this college, so we intend to mention this to him, and hopefully he can find time around his studies to attend.) Who do you know in the Albany, NY area? Be sure to invite them as well. What a refreshingly different way to conduct a havurah! It just goes to show that if you want a havurah in your area, why not ask God to put it together…and see what happens!
From Baltimore, MD:
We recently heard from a contact in Baltimore, MD that he is actively seeking his parish’s approval to start a havurah there and meet in the parish. Let’s pray that God will open up doors for him and the new havurah. Hopefully in Volume 10, we will have a report on their progress.
From Louisville, KY
We are happy to report that the new leaders are Deacon Franco and Ellie Cottrell. They have the full support of Pastor Ed Gorman and will be studying the audio series by Dr Brant Pitre, The Bible and the Mass, Jewish Roots to the Liturgy. If your havurah is interested, you can order this through the AHC website. They also have already planned the next Seder in early March. We will provide more details as we learn about them. We are hoping to be there too. Last year they had over 120 attendees at the Havurah/Parish Seder.
From St. Louis, MO
The St. Edith Stein havurah will be resuming in the AHC Center on the last Friday of September after a summer break. Thank you, John and Theresa Noecker, for so graciously hosting our havurah for the last three years! We look forward to begin studying Brant Pitre’s book, Jesus the Bridegroom — The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.
We want to wish each of you a blessed, happy, healthy, and holy New Year. We will pray Jeremiah 29:11 over each of you and all the havurot around the world.
La Shana Tova b’Yeshua v’Miriam (Happy New Year in Jesus and Mary),
Ken and Flora Wilsker