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January 15, 1988 - Image 76

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-01-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

RELIGION

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two religions
are twins,
but they
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FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 1988



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HAROLD M. SCHULWEIS

Special to The Jewish News

n the wake of Pope John Paul II's
recent visit to America, a revival of
Christian-Jewish anecdotes took
place. One such story tells of Cohen's con-
version to Catholicism, for reasons
unknown. The Knights of Columbus
hosted a banquet in Cohen's honor. Called
upon to speak, Cohen looked at his au-
dience, devoted lay Catholics, priests,
bishops, monsignors, and began his ad-
dress: "Fellow Goyim."
That genre of Jewish humor is meant to
console. It insinuates that the conversion
has not taken and that an ineradicable re-
sidual identity remains: a Jew remains a
Jew, even after conversion.
The challenge to Jewish identity comes
less from outright conversion than from
surreptitious deconversion. The hyphen,
not the cross, dissolves Jewish identity.
The Judeo-Christian hyphen is turned in-
to a sign of identity. While Judaism and
Christianity may appear different,
stripped of externalities they are the same.
Blue and white lights or green and red fix-
tures, hot-cross buns or latkes, they all
signal the same directions.
The Judeo Christian hyphenation is a
theological triumph for those who sought
to break the hyphen and free Christianity
from its Jewish origins. The defenders of
the Judeo-Christian link warned the
church that for Christianity to sever its
Jewish bonds is to attach Christianity to
pagan roots. To cut the grafted branches
from the good olive tree would cut off
Christianity from its authenticating Jew-
ish root. (Romans 11:17F). Yet for all the
benefits in the grafted hyphen for Jews and
Christians alike, there are serious liabilities
in the assumption that deep down Judaism
and Christianity are twin faiths without
significant difference.
Consider the case of two attractive, intel-
ligent, young people, very much in love,
who enter my study. He, a Jew named
Sam. She, a Christian named Peggy. Their
object is matrimony and the subject is a
rabbi liberal enough to officiate at the
mixed union or alongside a liberal priest.

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