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Crucifix and Stations Covered: Jews observe High Holy Days in Catholic Church

Crucifix and Stations of the Cross Covered
"But he that shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him
before My Father Who is in Heaven," Matt. 10:33
Jews Observe High Holy Days in Catholic Church
Excerpted from The Daily Herald
September 30, 2014

The trickiest part about hosting Beth Tikvah's Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in the sanctuary of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Inverness [Illinois] is finding a discreet and sensitive way to hide Jesus.

From a suspended perch above the altar, a larger-than-life Jesus Christ reaches out from a clear, acrylic cross in Ernest Caballero's magnificent "Cross of New Life" sculpture, which is the focal point in the Holy Family sanctuary. The sculpture, which cost $750,000 when it was unveiled in 1997, measures 16-feet-by-12-feet and weighs nearly 2,000 pounds. But that overtly Christian imagery doesn't mesh with the most solemn of Jewish High Holy Days.

"So we lower it as far as possible and then put a white screen over it," says Heidi Rooney, communications director for Holy Family.

"My ancestors could have never imagined such a possibility," says Taron Tachman, rabbi of Beth Tikvah, a Reform Jewish congregation in Hoffman Estates that doesn't have space in its building for the crowds drawn to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services. This Friday night and Saturday morning will mark the 10th year that Holy Family has hosted Beth Tikvah's High Holy Days.

"The fact that two religions are able to pray in the same sanctuary makes that space even more holy," Tachman says.

"To have our Jewish brothers and sisters atone and ask forgiveness in the same space (as we partake in) the Eucharist on a daily basis, to me, these two thing are very powerful spiritually," says the Rev. Terry Keehan, pastor at Holy Family.

A 10-minute drive from Holy Family, Beth Tikvah can accommodate only about half of the 400 to 500 people who attend High Holy Days services. To prepare for services at the Catholic church, a moving truck hauls the congregation's ark, which houses the Torah scrolls, banners and other items needed for the services, says Steve Pill, who lives in Palatine and serves as co-chair of the Beth Tikvah ritual committee.

Meanwhile, Holy Family not only hides the Jesus sculpture, but it also covers artwork depicting the 12 stations of the cross and even removes bulletins featuring the cross, Rooney says.

"Last year, at Rosh Hashana, we had two weddings," says Keehan, in a statement most priests never have occasion to utter. Both congregations work together quickly to transform the altar from Catholic to Jewish and back again.

No rental price is suggested, and Beth Tikvah makes a donation to Holy Family.

"We call it a mitzveh," Tachman says, using the Yiddish word for a good deed. "They look upon it the same way. It makes them feel good that we're doing this."

Members of both congregations overwhelmingly support the agreement, the rabbi and priest say.

"One year, I put my (priestly) collar on and handed out hymnals just to show them that not only do we welcome them, I welcome them, too," Keehan says. "It's all part of something we take as sacred, and that's welcoming people"...

For full report, go to:


From the Diaries of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton
“[Cardinal] Lienart is speaking. He is insisting that all Christians have the Jews as a common source. He ignores the fact that the religion of Israel and Judah before the public life [of Christ] was one thing, and post-Christian Judaism is quite another. The center of Jewish religion after Christ is and has been the denial of Christ.” (
Sept. 28, 1964 - during Vatican II)

For more on the Vatican II approach with Judaism, which constitutes a rupture with true Catholic doctrine, go to:
Pope Francis and the Old Covenant

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