Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Yom Kippur... Christian Style?

I occasionally post about my faith, as do others. So I realize that there aren't a lot of Jews out there in romanceland that read this blog, and that SB Sarah is about the only other one I can think of who blogs. Everyone examines their faith at some point, and lots of folks learn about the faith of others. I'm often asked questions about Judaism, since many of you don't know a lot about it, and many in my community don't either. I've shared stories about my kids, their bar mitzvahs, Jewish traditions, and I've never before encountered anything from you all but acceptance about my Judaism, and I've never offered anything but acceptance in return for your feelings about your own faith. 

To understand my upset, I should give a little background. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the 10 days between are the 10 holiest days in the Jewish calendar. They are sometimes called the High Holidays, but the true term is the High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, the time when we celebrate a new year, a new beginning. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. Once a year (or really over the entire 10 day period) Jews all over the world reflect upon their lives, ask forgiveness for their transgressions from themselves, from others they have wronged, and from God. Additionally, they forgive those who have wronged them. The High Holy Days are filled with beautiful prayers and are incredibly meaningful. Even traditionally non-religious Jews tend to go to shul on these days. It has been this way for a really damn long time (we are in the year 5769).

I sometimes liken the High Holy Days to those Christians who don't normally go to church during the year, but feel compelled to go on Christmas and Easter, because those are the most important holidays of the year, correct? There is even a term for these folks - they are referred to as High Holy Day Jews. I don't fit into that category, since I go year-round, but there are those that do, and I don't judge them.

The Torah portion (Old Testament, I must say, as I'm sure you are all aware, but you'll see in a moment why I stress this) that is read during the High Holy Days is that of Abraham, who was to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to show his loyalty to God, but at the last moment, God stops him, and Abraham sacrifices a ram instead.  Lessons to be learned notwithstanding, you'll see in a moment why I tell this story.

OK, now that you have a little bit of background.... I came across this ad in my local newspaper, and I wonder if it's just me that is taken aback by it. Or if there is something to my irritation. To me, it is the equivalent to a temple advertising that Easter is all about the Jews because Jesus was Jewish, and the Last Supper was a Seder, after all.  So I ask you, am I overreacting? Maybe I am....  Here's the ad for a local church...

"Changed Forever by His Presence"
XXXX Church will present a special service celebrating the the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur  at 6 pm on Saturday, Oct 12. According to the event organizers, the service will present Yom Kippur as the most holy day of the year for the Jews when the High Priest of Israel would offer a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people.
In the service, Pastor xxxx will represent the role of the High Priest and will offer evidence from the New Testament as Jesus Christ as he acted as the High Priest and became the atoning sacrifice.
Ummm, pardon me, but the High Priest of Israel? No matter your feelings on this, if they are referring to Jesus, then to use that term in the same sentence as "the most holy day of the year for Jews" is highly offensive to me. So, am I wrong to be offended by this? If this were a temple making Easter, what I consider to be the most holy day of the Christian calendar, out to be their holiday, would you be offended? I think I would, certainly.

12 People Gabbed:

Wendy said...

Mixing Jesus and Yom Kippur just strikes me as "wrong" period. Certainly Jesus was Jewish, but Jews don't believe in the whole "son of God" thing, so why even go there?

Sort of unrelated, I went to a college with a large Jewish student population. We got Yom Kippur off every year - and I always thought it was the "coolest" of all the Jewish holidays....

Lauren Dane said...

I think you have every right to be offended.

Lori said...

Well, yes I'm a bit offended, but really more shocked than anything. And kind of sorry that I saw it too late to go and be a fly on the wall. I would have loved to hear how they turned it into being all about Jesus. But, oh well, that's what I get for not reading my Friday paper until Monday.

Jenster said...

Ooo. I can certainly see why you would be offended.

I think it's important for Christians to learn about Jewish celebrations and holidays simply because of the fact we come from the Jewish faith, but that's taking it a bit far.

Lori said...

Jen, I couldn't agree with you more. And I actually don't really have a problem with a church wanting to embrace the principle of Yom Kippur. In principle. I think it's a wonderful day, and a wonderful ideology, one that I would encourage anyone to experience. I also think that if we encouraged young people to learn more about other religions, we'd have a whole lot less hate in this world (well, all people, really, but grabbing them when they are young would likely be more successful).

I just took umbrage with taking the most holy day of the year out of the context of Jewish theology and putting into Christian theology.

Rosie said...

Okay I'm going there, I think this minister and church are stupid. I know it's not a very intelligent argument, but there you go.

I've seen wonderful interfaith celebrations of religious holidays, but never anyone "turning" one religions holiday to fit their own doctrine which is how I take what you've shared.

Besides I've yet to meet a minister or priest who would act as High Priest as Jesus. That's some ego. If it was a re-enactment of an event (Crystal Cathedral type thing) it would be one thing, but this is a service.

Yeah, I'm offended and can certainly see why you would be.

Jessica said...

Just wanted to add that there is another Jewish romance blogger -- me.

I even posted a picture of the challah my spouse made on Rosh Hashanah! I'm just waiting for the hot Jewish romance, along the lines of the Christian inspirational ones. ;)

Lori said...

Yay, Jessica! So glad to know you're out there! I just linked you up here and on I Just Finished Reading :)

And I so agree! I've posted on this a million times - every time I review a romance with a Jewish hero or heroine... why are they always so damn stereotyped? Why can't they just go to temple on Friday, the same way people go to church on Sunday? I even issued a challenge to romance authors out there, but I doubt anyone will take me up on it :(

Jessica said...

Thanks for the linkage Lori. Come ot think of it, I cannot recall a Jewish hero in a contemporary. I can think of a few in historicals, like Liz Carlyle's Never Deceive a Duke, but in those cases, their Jewish identity is usually partial, hidden, and problematic. Maybe I'll try to get a list going and post on it one of these days!

Lori said...

I've reviewed a couple books, one with a Jewish couple, and the other with a Jewish heroine: Chasing Stanley, which really got my goat; and Hostile Makeover by Wendy Wax.

I can't believe I missed Never Deceive a Duke, since Carlyle is on my autobuy list. It figures that would be the one book I'd miss! Off to PBS to go find it now. Thanks!

Jessica said...


Hope it's not too late to comment on this, or too O/T.

I pursued this question a bit and found a long thread at Smart Bitches from November 2007 with many suggestions for Jewish romance (you may have seen it or commented on it yourself).

Unfortunately, I don't know how to paste links but if you search for "Jewish Protagonists" on their site you will find it.

Interestingly, most of the comments are prefaced with, "This isn't really a romance, but..."

One discovery I made there, besides Gaffney's Crooked Hearts and a few other classics, was for an SSE about Hanukkah published last year which I plan to read and review next month. It's called A Candle for Nick by Lorna Michaels.

Thought I'd share!

Lori said...

Thanks, Jessica!! I should have known that Sarah would have done a post on it.

I'm off to go find it. And I actually love the SSE line, so I think that one will be a must read for me.