1995, Chicago Tribune CHICAGO - What year is it?
Answer: 1995, 1416 and 5755. The first, favored by Christians
and figured from Christ's birth, should be familiar. The second is
Islamic, starting at Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina. The
third is Judaism's measure of Hebrew - and human - history, from
Adam and Eve onward.
We mention this, of course, because 5756 is almost here. The
first day of Tishri - the first month in the Hebrew calendar -
falls on Sept. 25, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, the
beginning of the Jewish New Year. It ushers in the high holidays -
the Ten Days of Repentance that culminate on Oct. 4 with Yom
Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Anyone who reads the religion page is conversant with all
faiths, but some of you may have confederates who are aware of the
Hebrew holy days ahead but hazy about the difference between a
menorah and a mitzvah, the Talmud and the Torah, sukkah and shtetl,
not to mention the word TaNaKh.
A good solution is to glean from the glossary - and the full
text - of "Teaching Christian Children About Judaism," written by
Deborah Levine, executive director of the Jewish Federation of
Greater Rockford, Ill., and published by Liturgy Training
Publications, an arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
(Price: $18. To order, call 1-800-933-1800.)
Designed for parochial schools, the 75-page manual has also
found a market as a kind of Cliffs Notes for Judaically challenged
adults, especially among interfaith couples.
Levine got the idea four years ago when she was involved in
interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee's Chicago
office and met Sister Mary Ellen Coombe, who was doing the same
thing for the archdiocese - and still is.
The manual's introduction, written by Coombe, is a painfully
honest appraisal of the often troubled relations between Christians
and Jews. Says she: "I wish this weren't our history, but it is."
Coombe begins by noting the inextricable ties between the two
religions: "In the first century, Christianity was a movement
within Judaism." Indeed, "it was not until the middle of the fourth
century that (they) were clearly separate and distinct religions."
And toward the end, she writes: "For almost 2,000 years the
dominant understanding (for Christians) of the relationship between
Christianity and Judaism was that Judaism had been supplanted by