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November 14, 2013 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-14

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

metro

Sharing Views

T

he Binding of Isaac, one of the
most intriguing and contro-
versial Bible stories, was the
topic of an ecumenical conversation
Nov. 3 between Rabbi Joseph Krakoff of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield
and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of the
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit.
The two religious leaders exchanged
ideas about the underlying meanings of
the provocative story about how Abraham
is instructed by God to prepare his son,
Isaac, for sacrifice, only to receive a last-
second reprieve in the form of an angel.
While drawn from different scholarly
references, the interpretations had over-
riding similarities. Both men agreed that
asking Abraham to sacrifice the son he
and Sarah had waited a lifetime to con-
ceive was a test of faith.
"Abraham has to prove he's worthy of lead-
ing human beings on the path of righteous-
ness; said Vigneron, adding that the test
reinforced the idea that for human relation-
ships to work, one's relationship with God
should take priority. "It's by putting God first
that everything else is rightly ordered."
Krakoff and Vigneron concurred that

the translation of the Hebrew words
of both pride and misunderstanding.
Abraham spoke in response to God's sum-
"It means we were chosen to observe the
mons, "Here I am:' should apply to mod-
commandments; not that we're better:' he
ern relationships as well.
said.
"Abraham was saying, 'I
The discussion was the
am all here, totally present
second in a two-part series
and at your disposal. There
held at the Maple Theater
are so many ways people
in Bloomfield Township.
are not present today:'
Called "In the Beginning:'
said Vigneron, citing the
the series featured the two
distractions caused by tech-
religious leaders presenting
nology, especially among
their respective views on
adolescents.
various stories contained in
Krakoff said the story was Rabbi Josep h Krakoff
the Book of Genesis. The first
not only about a test of faith and Archibis hop Allen H.
dialogue, on Oct. 6, focused
but also about the miracle of Vigneron
on the Garden of Eden.
bringing Abraham and Isaac
Krakoff and Vigneron, who
together, perhaps for the first time.
called the program "a conversation between
"Abraham seems to have no relationship
friends; believe this is the first time two reli-
with Isaac, no dialogue until this scene
gious leaders have come together in this way
Krakoff said, "when the text says, twice in
to compare the Jewish and Catholic views on
two verses, that the two walked on 'together."' traditional Bible stories.
When Krakoff asked if the Jews' designa-
The program, sponsored by the Jewish
tion as the "chosen people" was offensive
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's
to those of the Catholic persuasion, the
Alliance for Jewish Education, drew more
Archbishop said this was not the case.
than 300 members of the Jewish and
"We see ourselves as spiritually related
Christian communities to each event. Judy
to Abraham, so anti-Semitism is really self-
Loebl, associate director of adult education
loathing; Vigneron said. "The Christian
for Federation, said she was pleased with
creed blesses God for his choice of Abraham." the diversity of the audience, which she
Krakoff explained the concept is a source
estimated was about 70 percent Jewish.

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Rabbi, archbishop take lessons from Jewish, Catholic views.

The concept of "original sin:' one of the
main differences between the two religions,
was discussed during the first presentation.
Vigneron said Catholics believe all people
are in need of healing when they come into
the world because of the actions of Adam
and Eve, while Krakoff said the Jewish view
is that people are morally neutral at birth,
with the capacity for good or evil.
"Although there were places where we
agreed and disagreed, it was all done with
deep respect in an atmosphere of learning
from one another," Krakoff said.
The two men met several years ago at an
ecumenical breakfast and developed a last-
ing friendship and spiritual affiliation, which
includes serving as co-chairs of the Religious
Leaders Forum of Metropolitan Detroit, an
interfaith coalition of influential leaders.
"The Archbishop is such a wonderful
and thoughtful man ... we had a great
time together and would certainly be
open to doing something like this again;
Krakoff said.
"I thought it was very informative to
hear their different interpretations, and to
see how well they actually worked togeth-
er:' said Max Rothbart of West Bloomfield.
"There are a lot of similarities between
Judaism and Catholicism; on the whole,
they're very agreeable."



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November 14 • 2013

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