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A Summer in (Temple) Israel

pierre_100I, am a Jew. I am a Jew who follows a particular rabbi, Rabbi Jesus, the Christ. We have our own scriptures, the New Testament, but we also incorporate what we followers of Jesus call the Old Testament but Jews, whose scriptures are theirs, call the Torah.

If we incorporate the Old Testament into our bible and Jesus was a Jew, then we who call ourselves Christians are really another branch of that spiritual mother of us all, Judaism.

 

Many Christians, in particular the more fundamentalist ones, are obsessed with the Old Testament and the lessons contained within its scriptures. My personal obsessions are, who are these Israelites, my spiritual ancestors? Are Jews today my direct link to Abraham? What force has kept them a cohesive entity for more than five thousand years?

By chance and most decidedly Godly design, I met Rabbi Steven Garten at my church, St. Barnabas, where he gave an evening lecture on grace and righteousness last winter. We had a nice personal chat after and I told him CHRI was looking for a replacement for Rabbi Fine's 'Reflections on the Torah'. Rabbi Garten came to CHRI, considered the daunting task of a weekly program, and accepted the challenge. CHRI now produces 'Jewish Facts and Jewish Faith', heard every Sunday at 6am and available as a podcast on our website, chri.ca. So if you missed prior shows or want to rehear a specific show, head over to CHRI's website and follow the link.

I've been a subscriber to Biblical Archeological Review for well over a decade, learning the history of my spiritual ancestors. But I needed more, as BAR does not address questions of the soul, just those in possession of a soul. I then got the idea of spending the summer going to the synagogue with Rabbi Garten. I asked him, he said yes but not before saying that Saturday, June 28th would be his last as Rabbi of Temple Israel as he was retiring.

It would be a great way for me to start, witnessing his official departure. I've stopped going to St. Barnabas for the summer, determined to live my spiritual life as a Jew. It would be much more than the Israel Bonds I bought every year to finance my eventual trip to Israel.

Finally, my journey begins from the intellectual to the spiritual and, in the future, the place itself.

Israel, both the land and the covenant were given to Abraham by God. Israel rising, Israel starving, Israel enslaved, Israel freed, Israel sinning, Israel isolated, Israel turning towards God, Israel conquering, Israel ascendant, Israel errant, Israel turning away from God, Israel conquered, Israel dispersed, Israel returning. Israel, tiny Israel, not even 38% the size of Nova Scotia, always surrounded and invaded by mighty empires. Israel, always the last one standing.

Will I learn more about Judaism, about myself, or both? Stay tuned!

Blog 2: Pierre enters, tears of sorrow, tears of joy, Rabbi Garten exits. Lox, bagels and cheesecake for all.

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