Saturday, March 29, 2003

Workshop way 2 faiths can relate

Faith Matters

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

KENWOOD - For many Jews, Good Friday is associated with violence.

"Historically, Holy Week was a time when Jews were persecuted by Christians. For many, the reading of the Passion incited anti-Semitism and violence. This has been a painful moment between our two faiths," Sister Mary Ellen Coombe said.

But Sister Coombe, a Sister of Our Lady of Sion with the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Laurence Edwards, a Reform Rabbi from Chicago, have spent four years working to improve the rocky relationship between the two faiths with workshops for educators. This year, they're focusing on the liturgies of Easter and Passover.

"For us to explore together in the same room and learn about these traditions is a way to heal," Sister Coombe said. "It's also important for both our communities to see us working together. It's a model for how a good relationship between our communities can be."

Monday, the two will speak to Catholic and Jewish educators in Cincinnati from 5:45 to 8:30 p.m. at the Yavneh Day School, 8401 Montgomery Road, Kenwood.

The program is sponsored by the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati Department of Educational Services and the American Jewish Committee's Cincinnati Chapter.

The two spoke last year in Cincinnati and speak about four times a year at similar conferences. They consider their work an important step in changing the relationship.

Sister Coombe, who has taught in Jewish schools in Chicago, said the biggest barrier in the past has been the belief by the Catholic Church that God's covenant with the Jews was replaced by his covenant with the church. But Vatican II changed that.

"We can't understand Catholicism without understanding Judaism. We can't speak about who we are as Christians without exploring our Jewish roots," Sister Coombe said.

Edwards stresses that it's a long process for Jews as well, but one that stands to help Jews deepen their appreciation of their own faith.

Tanya Stager, who attended last year's workshop with about 80 other educators, is looking forward to this year's program, especially a roundtable discussion with Jewish educators.

"It's always important that we know about other people's religions and have a healthy respect and understanding of what other people celebrate," said Stager, the assistant director in the office of religious education for the archdiocese.

For more information or to register for the workshop, contact Barbara Glueck with the American Jewish Committee at 621-4020.

Dance conference

The Kingdom Arts International Institute, Inc. will host "Resurrection! Celebrate New Life," a pageantry and worship conference from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The conference, which features a free concert open to the public at 7:30 p.m. both nights at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Blue Ash, teaches about pageantry in religious celebrations, including the use and making of flags, banners and streamers.

The Saturday session explores dance, ranging from hip hop to ballet and various forms of dance in worship, including Hebraic dance.

For more information or to register for the conference, call 574-4004.

To submit religion news, e-mail or fax 755-4150.

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