David P Goldman Editor of First Things
Jewish writer David P Goldman in an article in "First Things" entitled “Hebrew Catholics Association” in St. Louis: A Source of Sin? writes "...If a Jew converts to Christianity, as a handful do, he or she nonetheless is obligated to perform the commandments of the Torah, including dietary and marital-purity laws, Sabbath observance, phylacteries and so forth. For a Jew not to perform these commandments is to be in a state of grievous sin. The Torah states that anyone who rejects God’s commandments “with a high hand,” that is, wittingly and deliberately, “shall be cut off from his people.” There is no retroactive exemption from the mitzvot. This remains an issue between us and Jewish converts to Christianity. Michael Wyschogrod write an open letter to the late Cardinal Lustiger of Paris, perhaps the most prominent Jewish convert in the Catholic hierarchy, informing him that he was required to perform the mitzvot. (Wyschogrod addresses these issues in essays in the collection Abraham’s Promise).
Gentiles of course are not required to perform the mitzvot, except for the basic rules of behavior grouped under the so-called Noahide laws. St. Paul argued that Gentiles should be exempt from the mitzvot, but never once did he argue that he himself, who was born a Jew, should stop performing the mitzvot.
From the Jewish theological reading, by acknowledging an Association of Hebrew Catholics without encouraging its members to remain Torah-obedient, the Church is reinforcing sinfulness in its ranks. That is why observant Jews must feel profoundly uncomfortable with the action of the St. Louis Archdiocese. Proselytism, schmoselytism–we know that Catholics would prefer that everybody convert. But all Jews have a responsibility to discourage other Jews from sinning..."
Michael Wyschogrod a leading Orthodox Jewish Theologian of our time
Once again we see that the Jewish community gives a conflicting message. Some of them oppose Hebrew Catholics observing the mitzvot and other demand that they keep them. The AHC is not opposed to nor in any way discourages Hebrew Catholics from being Torah observant in fact they encourage and support those Hebrew Catholics such as myself who do. Hebrew Catholics come from all kinds of backgrounds- many from non-observant backgrounds. Encouraging these Jews in the Church to observe Pesach and other Jewish customs means many of these Jews are now more observant of Torah and mitzvot in the Catholic Church than they ever were outside the Church. Some Hebrew Catholics come from observant backgrounds and some coming from non-observant or limited observance have become more and more observant as Jews while in the Church.
Those Jews in the Church who are Torah observant have had to battle the prejudices of those on the right and left. Many traditional and orthodox Catholics think that Jews should cease being Jews and sit at the back of the bus and keep quiet. Others obsessed with the Jewish Catholic dialogue also wish the same thing but for a different motivation- they don't want to upset their dialogue with the Jewish community. Both are manifestation of anti-Semitism among Catholics and this form of prejudice and anti-semitism is often encouraged and abetted by many in the Jewish community. This is why the recent interview with Archbishop Burke by David Moss President of the Association of Hebrew Catholics is so encouraging to all Hebrew Catholics and especially those who are Torah observant.
An interesting question that I have never really seen clearly answered is in regards to those Hebrew Catholics who themselves didn't leave Judaism and convert to Christianity but it was their parents or grandparents who became believers in Jesus. According to Orthodox Judaism they are halakically Jewish but do they come under the same penalties as those who the Jewish community see as apostates? Many of these second or third or more generations as Hebrew Christians are now also embracing Torah observance while retaining their belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. What is the official position of the orthodox Jewish community to them?
I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.