Franciscan Perspective: Insights on Judaism

by Sister Julie Ann on June 8, 2011

Jesus was born of a Jewish mother. Did you know that for Jews their mother (not father) is the most important lineage link to their Jewish heritage? Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity, Sister Mary Bodwin highlighted this fact on the first of 4 nights of sharing Insights into Judaism June 6, 13, 20, 27, 2011.

Offering evening classes in hopes of enriching her own and others’ background in Judaism, Sister Mary further referenced this linage connection with the example of Edith Stein, also born of a Jewish mother. Edith did convert  to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun first in Cologne Carmel. Realizing the danger she caused others from her Jewish ancestry, she asked and received permission to transfer to a foreign monastery. In 1932 she secretly crossed the border into Holland where she was welcomed in the Carmel of Echt. (She did this with a blood sister who also became a Catholic Carmelite nun.) Later, Nazis  invaded Holland. When Dutch bishops felt called to issue a pastoral letter protesting the deportation of Jews and the expulsion of Jewish children from the Catholic schools, the Nazis arrested all Catholics who were daughters and sons of Jewish mothers in Holland. Edith (and her sister) died at Auschwitz. 

Franciscan Note:  the only time in history when there is record of Jews living in Assisi is during the Holocaust, when the town and its churches, monasteries and convents became a safe haven for several hundred Jews.

The only book used for these sessions is the Bible. Maps and a vocabulary sheet of @ 45 words are important resources. Beginning with Genesis, especially beginning with the person of Abraham, the first class proved that Scripture is significant study material for Judaism.

Clearly the greatest gift Judaism brought to the world is monothiesm. Believing in one true God and an understanding of covenant were both important to Jesus who welcomed Jew and Gentile to love God and neighbor. They were important to Francis. Are they important to us?

4 thoughts on “Franciscan Perspective: Insights on Judaism”

  1. Smaryb says:

    Sister this is a very good summary of the first class. The idea that to be born a Jew one must be born of a Jewish mother goes way back to the time of Abraham and Sarah. God declared to them that they would be the  father and mother of His people.
    Ishmael was the son of Abraham but his mother was not Jewish.

  2. Another possible Franciscan connection to your important point on Jewish lineage…St. Francis' mother was not Jewish, therefore Francis was not Jewish. However, it is possible that St. Francis' father was Jewish. We know in fact that Pietro Bernadone was successful in business.  Francis' writings reveal very little about his family history.

  3. Smaryb says:

    Sister, that is a very interesting insight into the life of Francis. I had never heard that before. maybe  if we were able to go back far enough we might find some Jewishness in all of us.

  4. A wise and very truthful answer! It is a small world…and we are all connected.

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