JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY
Dear Mr. ... Your interest in the conversion of Jewish friends pleases me very much; as, unfortunately, very little attention is given to bringing an understanding of our Church to the Jews.
Though I am willing to aid you in your laudable endeavor, it cannot be done by furnishing a catechism specially fitted for prospective converts from Jewry to Christianity, as such does not exist.
While Jews are often inclined to "talk religion," their minds are generally closed to things Catholic. This is due partly to ignorance of the fact that the Judaism of the pre-Christian ages, as set forth in the Old Testament, is of the historic past; and to the Jewish inherited and acquired suspicion of converts from the Synagogue to the Church, whose integrity they question. This retards their appreciation of the religious principles, and the spiritual motive, that prompts conversions. The complementary relationship of Judaism to Catholicism is virtually unknown to Jews. They do not realize that the Judaism recorded in the Old Testament is doctrinally, prophetically, and morally "incomplete Catholicism"; that the religion recorded in the New Testament is the Judaism of the Old Testament full-blossomed. They know not that that is why the Books in the Old Testament, were united by the Catholic Church with the Books in the New Testament, in the Christian Bible that she gave to the world.
Before showing that conversion is prompted by love, and not hatred of Judaism, it had long seemed advisable to stress the historic fact that if it were not for converts there never would have been a Jewish people, nor a Christian Church. The Jews as a distinctive people, as Israelites, stem from a convert, Abraham; who rejected the gods his father worshipped for the one true God. Abraham was the first of the foremost champions of monotheism; that is of the unity of God, the Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe Who is one in substance as Catholic theologians teach. Jews continue to believe in the Abrahamic concept of God after their conversion, but with a fuller understanding of His attributes. Abraham is mistakenly considered to have been a Jew, the first in religious history, when he was a Hebrew, though his God was the God Who became the God of the Jews; and remained the God of the Christians. This term Hebrew, which become the name of the language of the Jews, is derived from the word "eber," defined as "crossed over," "beyond, the other side." Abraham was called a Hebrew, as he was an immigrant in the land of Canaan (Palestine), who had crossed the Euphrates from the Ur of the Chaldeas, where he was born. It was through the twelve sons of Jacob, grandson of Abraham (whose name God changed to Israel), that the Israelites came into being. Judaism, the first organic, priestly, sacrificial, divinely revealed religion, stemmed from Moses and Aaron, who were born over four centuries after the days of Abraham; and over three centuries after Jacob was born. With the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, Whom Moses had commanded to be heard (Deut. 18:15-19), came the new covenant, the Christian covenant, which Jeremiah said would supersede the Jewish covenant (31:31), when the promises in the Old Testament would be fulfilled. The Messiah instituted a new priesthood and anew, unbloody Sacrifice, in place of the Aaronic priesthood and its Mosaic sacrifices.
The Judaism of the Old Testament fulfilled its Divine mission; it ceased to function as the religion of God over nineteen centuries ago, when it ceased to have a priesthood, altar and sacrifices; just as the Catholic religion would be of the historic past if it ceased to have a priesthood and the Sacrifice of the Mass. The attitude of the rabbis and the Jewish press toward converts to Catholicity is inconsistent, to say the least.
While on the one hand they question the integrity of converts, and contemptuously dub them "meshummads," their "tendency is to claim all great men and even bask in the sunshine of the renegade and converted Jew if he reaches fame," said the "American Israelite" weekly. Hence Disraeli, the convert to Anglicanism; Spinoza, Marx, Trotsky, Heine, Freud, Lombroso, Einstein, and a host of others of Jewish parentage, repudiators of belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are claimed as "great Jews."
It is interesting to note that the Jewish press has recently been presenting in its pictorial outline of "Famous Personalities," the story of Sarah Bernhardt, "the most famous actress of her era," as she was, who earned the nickname "The Divine Sarah." She "started on the stage at an early age, and remained until she was 80," even "after her leg was amputated." Readers of the Jewish weeklies in which the pictorial outline appeared, were informed, and rightly so, that "her skill at interpreting human emotions was so great, that she could play with equal facility either male or female roles." But the Jewish press failed to note that Sarah Bernhardt was a convert from Judaism to Catholicism. She was Baptized in the Paris Church of Grandchamps.
It is well to know of these inconsistencies while approaching your Jewish acquaintances with things Catholic. That this may be of service to you, is my prayer.
Sincerely in the Lord, David Goldstein