DEAR ABBY: The Long Island woman who was devastated because her Jewish daughter indicated she may become Catholic should take comfort that Catholics are free to do whatever Jesus did. Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew who regularly went to synagogue and often led the services. He strictly observed the commandments and celebrated all the Jewish holidays. Any Catholic may go to temple, join the Hanukkah festivities, host or attend a Seder, etc.
In so doing, the Catholic is not "being Jewish." Catholics have not traditionally celebrated the Jewish holidays because for centuries Jews and Catholics saw one another as adversaries.
Today Jews and Catholics realize that they share the heritage of the Hebrew Scriptures and that they can best resist the rapid disappearance of all religion from public life by working in harmony. It is Catholic to celebrate the miracle of the temple lamp, and much more so to celebrate the time when Jews were saved by the body and blood of a lamb, a foreshadow of the Lamb whose body and blood redeemed us all.
When this woman's granddaughter asks her mother, "Why are we going to Grandma's for Passover if we're not Jewish?" the answer should be: "God calls us to honor our father and our mother; they celebrate Passover and we honor them by being with them on important occasions. Also, because we are celebrating the Passover as Jesus did each year of his incarnate life. Finally, because Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion at his last Passover Seder." -- MARTY BARRACK, BURKE, VA.
DEAR MARTY: Thank you for an excellent letter. I was touched by the number of readers who reached out to help "Devastated in Long Island" come to terms with her daughter's decision. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: This letter is in response to the Jewish mother who was devastated by the prospect of her daughter's conversion to Christianity, and therefore her granddaughter's religious upbringing. I'm a Christian and would love to be able to say I'm Jewish -- but I can't.
Jewish history is Christian history. That's what the Old Testament is. I feel a kinship with Jews because we worship the same God and study the same people: David, Isaiah, Moses, Noah, Daniel, etc. This is my heritage as well.
I would love to celebrate the Jewish holidays because I believe they are important. We should remember that God spared the firstborn of Israel when the Angel of Death passed over the homes whose doors were marked with the blood of the lamb.
This young granddaughter will be blessed to have the opportunity to learn her full religious heritage. To a Christian, Jesus is the Christ who fulfills all Jewish prophecy.
Where does that leave the grandparents and uncles who are committed to Judaism? Honored and loved, and just as much a part of her life as the other side of the family. -- ENCOURAGED AND DELIGHTED IN KENTUCKY