Attending a synagogue

Is it OK for a devout Catholic to attend a Jewish synagogue regularly? A friend of mine says she believes in Jesus as the Messiah and goes to mass weekly. Still, she says that because Judaism is the root of the Christian faith, she wants to attend Jewish services too. Is this OK for her to do on a regular basis like she does?

No it isnt. The temple veil was torn in two when Our Lord died on the Cross. It symbolised the end of the Old Dispensation. In no Jewish service will she come across any encouragement to believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and God. Quite the opposite. The elements of our faith that have their root in Judaism are certainly to be cherished and we do cherish them - the 10 commandments etc. She can appreciate them within Catholicism. But Judaism has been superseded. The New Law did away with many of the prescriptions of the Old law - dietary law, freedom to divorce etc. I would say attending these services is a danger to her faith.

I don’t see why this is necessary. Her reason as to why also doesn’t make sense. I don’t think there is anything wrong with her attending Jewish services as an observer, though.

Perhaps she should become more familiar with Catholic views on the Jewish roots of Catholic practices and beliefs. A great, basic book on that would be “The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity” by Taylor Marshall.

She is saying that she wants to learn more about the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith.

Oh okay. Well, I don’t think she needs to attend a synagogue regularly to learn about that, though it certainly is interesting.

But if she’s interested in learning more about the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith, then I highly recommend the book I gave in my last post. I would also recommend:

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist by Brant Pitre

Well, she needs to be aware that the Judaism of today is not like that of Christ’s time, both because of the destruction of the Temple and the later development of “modern” Judaism during the Enlightenment. It’s like attending a Restorationist church in an effort to learn what Christianity was like in Christ’s time. She’d be better served by reading books.

A number of our Catholic apologist have answered this sort of question but as a basis, a practicing Catholic should not be attending on a regular basis any other religious service of any kind. Usually this sort of question comes up with Protestant Churches but the principal would include other religions like Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Buddhism and all the rest. Your friend can read books, talk to Jewish friends etc to explore this issue. i would have her contact the association of Hebrew Catholics to discuss this further and they may some suggestions for her.

Wow…I never knew such an organization existed! I will definitely have to check this out.

I’ve been to a synagogue. It has a cantor and a rabbi, and is harmless.

I go often to synagogue personally. I feel really good after I chant in Hebrew.

It’s amazing that the Jews kept Hebrew alive. Yiddish has all but died out, but Hebrew is a living language

For years, Reform synagogues refused to allow the congregation to chant in Hebrew (with the exception of Mourners Kaddish I believe) Now, most Reform synagogues do more than half of the service in Hebrew! That is great in my opinion!

There are some excellent Catholic teachers on this, like Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Scott Hahn (she might want to start with the Fourth Cup).

Fr. Wade Menezez is also great. These podcasts can be downloaded from the EWTN website.

I’m not old enough to remember the Mass in Latin (pre-Vatican II) but I would have to say that there’s something about worshiping in a “liturgical language” that makes real the connection to one’s forefathers in the faith – as well as one’s brethren in the faith who happen to be worshiping half a planet away.

Also a very good lecture series by Lawrence Feingold…

Here is part 1 of a series by Br. Bob Fishman on the Jewish roots of Catholicism…

Yiddish is widely spoken amongst the Chassidim and the haredim. It is also making a bit of a come back among secular Jews who are interested in a closer connection to their culture.

From a Jewish point of view there is no problem with visiting but I don’t really think she is going to gain much by regularly attending. Others here have given better suggestions.

With all due respect Tonga, I disagree. I was raised Catholic and practiced regularly for 24 years before falling away. Later on, I began to attend Temple and it was only then that I began to see the connections between Judaism and Christianity. By the time I finished going through an entire cycle of Jewish holidays and learning about the Jewish perspective first hand , I had a much better understanding of many of the gospel stories. Learning about holidays such as Yom Kippur for example helped me to understand Christian Theology better. Yom Kippur is the day of atonement where sins are forgiven but from a Christian perspective, Christ is now the atonement. This is why when Messianic Jews celebrate Yom Kippur, they add in many of the prayers that Jesus is there final atonement…superseding any of the Temple sacrifices that atoned for sins.

While it is certainly nice to go experience Jewish practices firsthand, it is not necessary to do so to “see the connections between Judaism and Christianity”. You can learn everything that you mentioned above without regularly attending a synagogue. The Jewish roots of Catholicism is actually a topic that I am very interested in (particularly the tabernacle and temple), and I have yet to attend synagogue services.

Again, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with a Catholic going to a synagogue to see how Jews worship and celebrate various holidays. However, it is completely unnecessary to regularly attend the synagogue to understand the Jewish roots of Catholicism.

You are obviously not a teacher. Or are you?

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