Israeli drawn to Christ and His Church.. but scared

Hey all,

I’m 19 and live in Israel. I grew up in, and still live with, a Modern Orthodox Jewish family. I’ve always been interested in Christianity, the figure of Jesus always appealed to me, but since Christianity was ‘obviously wrong’ because Hashem (the common Jewish title for God, literally ‘the Name’) is totally immaterial and thus could not become man, and is totally one, therefore could not be a trinity, and so on, I stayed Jewish.

I never really appreciated Jewish religious life. Even before my bar mitzva I was kind of bitter about all the dietary and sexual restrictions Judaism imposes, the demand to go to synagogue three times every single day of the week, and the inherent nationalism/ethnocentrism. My denomination of Judaism focused on the latter a lot, which is why it is also called “National Religious”. In school they always tried to inculcate us with love for the Land of Israel, which was a value second only to Torah. This was often associated with military service, usually in combat positions. I always hated the times they brought up all kinds of local boys who had been killed in battle/by terrorists, because I felt I was expected to be like them, and felt I couldn’t be.

I also never really fit in with my peers. I think I have some kind of Asperger’s, so I was in a special class in elementary school, and had (and still have) only a few friends. From fourth to ninth grade I went to this sort of youth group called Bnei Akiva, but only really because there (unlike school) were girls there. Not that I had any success with them.

Three years ago, this happened: At first I felt guilty that I had not prayed hard enough or sinned too much, but later I came to believe that this reflected the absence of a loving god, and so over the course of a few months I drifted to deism, and finally agnostic atheism.

Until recently. A few weeks ago I read a Jewish book on “how to be a rational believer” that caught my eye in a bookstore, then G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy”, and finally Trent Horn’s “Why We’re Catholic”. Suddenly I saw that faith, and specifically Catholicism, did not have to be emotional self delusion, or inertia based on childhood indoctrination. I realized that those Pharisaical, oppressive Catholics had legitimate reasons for their beliefs.

So I went to Mass in the Hebrew-speaking vicarage in Jerusalem. Twice. Unfortunately the priests seem to be on summer vacation now or something, so although there’s someone doing Mass, cathechism and/or baptism seems to be unavailable right now.

The real problem, however, is my family. Consider all the terrible things Catholics have done to the Jewish people. I know the Spanish inquisition is exaggerated, but still: Crusader pogroms, discrimination, sometimes endorsed by popes in documents such as “Cum nimis absurdum”, forced conversion, burnings at the stake. Not to mention things done by believing Catholics to Jews in the name of other ideologies such as the Holocaust. Here in Israel Christiainity is regarded as invasive and completely alien, utterly divorced from Judaism, and the cause of many of our people’s woes. In fact, my mother told me the thought of me going to Mass causes her pain and trouble.

I know Jesus repeatedly said you need to forsake everything, including your family, if that’s what it takes to follow Him. But I just don’t feel like I have the strength to do that. I love my mother and genuinely don’t want to hurt her.

Can anyone help me here?

Many thanks, the grace of Our Lord be with you all.

This appears to some muslim’s dilema on some of the French language forums I have been looking at. We have to follow the truth where it leads us. IF you believe in Jesus then you must follow Him. Go to the priest of the church and talk to him. make the sacrifices to follow Christ. It won’t be easy but then nothing worthwhile ever is. If you hold out to teh end then Heaven is yours.
I will pray for you.

Young people frequently go through much soul-searching, not only about their faith, but about their relationships, attractions, future profession, and the meaning of their lives. You are apparently doing just that in regard to your faith journey. I would suggest perhaps a compromise. Study Catholicism, maybe talk to a priest about your thoughts and feelings, and what conversion entails. Also talk to a rabbi and express your concerns about Judaism. And study the many facets of Judaism: (Modern) Orthodoxy is not the only form of Judaism, after all. Prayer always helps as well! In the meantime, remain Jewish, while you continue to learn about the Catholic religion, how it resembles and differs from Judaism, and what becoming Catholic means in terms of your responsibilities to G-d and to the Church and its Sacraments. After you have acquired a deeper understanding, when you are finally ready, you must then make a choice. Hopefully, by that time, you will be more mature and perhaps living on your own or with a wife and family. No doubt you will be in a better position to break the news to your mother. It will not be easy even then; but hopefully she will continue to love you regardless of your religious convictions. Best wishes in your faith journey.

I agree with Meltzerboy’s assessment of your situation. There’s no hurry. Take time to study and pray before making any decisions about your faith. I would only disagree about waiting until you have a wife and family. If you marry a Jewish gal she would most likely want to remain Jewish and have the children brought up Jewish, which is perfectly understandable.

As to your mother and her feelings, bless her, it seems she fears you becoming something she cannot accept. I can understand that, too since there has been so many examples of Catholics/Christians doing terrible things in the name of Christ which he never taught. or would sanction. The reasons that some Christians act as they do against Jews is varied, and history isn’t as simple as we often think it is. Still, it is undeniable that grave injustices were committed. The past cannot be changed, but the future can–that’s where we all need to focus.

The Church is like Christ, her divine head, human and divine. In her divinity the Church cannot err, for she is the body of Christ. But in her humanity, in her members behavior, she can sin, and sin gravely for we are all sinners in need of God’s loving forgiveness and grace. As to the papal document Cum nimis absurdum, this article may be helpful to you:

All the best in your journey to God. :slight_smile:

Shalom, I would agree, as a born Catholic, to what Meltzer has to say. Adolescence truly is a time of questioning and so many Christians leave the fold at that time. I did myself and after many years came full circle. It does have a lot to do with being most comfortable in one’s own background and culture. So I would say read up more on Judaism, Martin Buber perhaps, preferably with politics kept out of it.

Religion, any religion, does not mix with politics very well, Instead, doing so usually makes for a more volatile and explosive mix. Jesus said to give Caesar what is his due and to God, what belongs to Him.

Regarding the Spanish Inquisition, etc., so much of what nominal Christians did over the centuries were totally at odds with the spirit and founder, despite an accepted concept of “just war”. Jesus definitely preached non-violence which was a novel concept for that time in the Middle East. Buddha 500 years before that, advanced no killing as a precept. It takes a long time for human beings to catch on…

I am praying for the Lord’s blessings and guidance in your quest.

I think all of the responses are good. Meltzerboy’s and Della’s responses are full of wisdom.

I would also suggest that you might contact some Messianic Jewish believers in Israel–I think there are a few groups. They would have the experience in both Judaism and Christianity, and they might be able to give you both perspectives. They might be able to address specific questions regarding your mother’s concerns. (although their leaning would be towards a belief in Jesus as the Messiah—but that’s a decision you would have to make for yourself.)

But mostly I would like to add that I think you should pray to HaShem and ask for His wisdom and guidance in making your decision.

the Holy Spirit is prompting you, 'god is calling you.

I know ti’s difficult, there were many terrible events in history, but, honestly, those people were not real Christians to do things like that. Even when the popes condemned things, no one listened. and even if the popes gave certain approvals, it doesn’t mean they were right about everything or that is was defined doctrine. they can err in matters of politics, just as much as everyone else.

but there is no official church teaching nor has there ever been that Jews must be treated badly. so we can all blame uman sin for that.

there were also many cahtolics that tried to help and save the Jews and sotp injustices, though it seems like history doen’st remember those parts very well.

Following God is based on truth, because every religious group has had time periods where it’s followers did not do good things, Christians, Jews, muslims, whatever, so it has to be more than just that. keep studying despites peoples’ faults and failings

You are searching for truth, and G-d will reward you for that. In contrast, many today do not care about truth, but only about temporal pleasure - take a look at Tel Aviv, for example. As to the long awaited, long-predicted suffering servant, G-d has never been silent with His chosen people for 2,000 years. Something happened.

Now, as to Yeshua of Nazareth actually being that suffering servant, many Hebrews are convicted of its truth. You might, as time goes along, listen to the stories and reasoning of those who are in the Association of Hebrew Catholics - a group which I wished to join, but my heritage would not support it.

If there is a single testimony which stands out in my mind, it is the spiritual journey of Peter Sabbath (now a Catholic Priest).

Catholicism is actually the fulfilment of Judaism so I have read. In fact at Mass sometimes one can get a glimpse of Catholicisms Jewish roots and origins. My advice for what it’s worth is to read the gospels in the light of the Old Testament which points to Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Many, many Jews of Jesus time believed that He was in fact the promised Messiah. Many others did not believe of course particularly among the priestly class of the day as Jesus threatened the status quo. Hatred of the Jews can in no way be accepted or excused by Catholics. It is and was wrong. Christ was a Jew. The Catholic Church made grave mistakes during its history. Of that there is no doubt. The Catholic Church is composed of a human but also a divine element. It is in its human element that it erred in its often inexcusable actions such as persecution of the Jews at various times in history.

The Nazis were however NOT catholic, they were occultist and fiercely anti Christian and killed thousands of Catholic priests and nuns. They were satanists really.

My advice is to go along to a Catholic Church and sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and just ask Him to reveal the truth to you. Give it a try. That will give you the truth better than reading any number of books.

Jesus is there, truly there in the Blessed Sacrament and I have no doubt that if you reach out to Him and ask Him to enlighten you, He will.

Don’t be afraid. And don’t worry about what your mother will say or think. Keep that for another day. Just go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament first and then worry about everything else after that. Jesus will be with you all the way.

All things work unto the good for those who love God.

God bless you.

I agree with what Meltzerboy said, with this exception as noted by Della.

I’d doubly stress learning to appreciate your current religion before considering leaving it. If you do become a Christian, you’ll find sooner or later that at times it’s lost some of its appeal, and there will be plenty of times you don’t like certain things about it. Learn faithfulness and appreciation where you are now—God knows you already and He can give you the grace to act with patient attentiveness and due consideration towards your present religion. You may eventually end up in Christianity, but you’ll already have the ability to appreciate it when it’s less shiny and new to you.

“When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die.” You might as well start practicing that now.

Be willing to put in some years of prayerful study —as long as you need—before trying to discern if Christianity is true, not just appealing.

Po -

This show too is one of my all-time favorites.. It features a Jewish convert to Catholicism, Dr. Robin Pierucci. She saw in Jesus the Suffering Servant.

This talk too by Harvard Professor Roy Schoeman is excellent.

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