Rabbis, Latino priests seek stronger ties at AJC event

Msgr. Lorenzo Miranda, archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy (center), and Father Arturo Corral, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church (third from right), listen during a priests-rabbis roundtable discussion March 10 at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. — Credit: VICTOR ALEMAN

Dozens of local Latino Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis seeking to strengthen interfaith relations — and discuss their shared migrant experiences — came together March 10 for a day of fellowship and conversation at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles.

“Exploring Bonds, Celebrating Traditions: A Day of Learning and Dialogue for Rabbis and Latino Priests,” presented by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Los Angeles in partnership with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, brought together reform, conservative and orthodox rabbis and Latino priests for roundtable discussions between the clergy members about faith issues, socio-political positions, and much more.

Rabbi Marc D. Angel, founder and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, offered the keynote address, followed by responses from Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar and Rabbi Mark Diamond, regional director of AJC Los Angeles, which led to robust roundtable talks.

Angel spoke at length about his experience growing up in Seattle as a Sephardic Jew, a Jewish tradition with roots in Spain, from where they were expelled more than 400 years ago. Despite expulsion, the faith tradition thrived in Turkey and elsewhere, with Sephardic Jews maintaining Hispanic traditions and speaking a medieval Spanish known as Judeo-Spanish or “Ladino.”

“Growing up in a Hispanic Jewish community in Seattle was a double blessing and a double whammy,” he said, noting that there was always “an identity crisis” — an experience not unlike those faced daily by Latino immigrants in the U.S.

“When we grow up as part of a minority group, whether it’s Jewish or Sephardic Jewish or Hispanic, how do we maintain our traditions, the integrity of who we are, while at the same time learning to adapt and be open to change and progress?” he asked.

The ongoing challenge to find this delicate balance “connects us as minority groups,” explained Angel. Interfaith gatherings such as today’s can serve as a starting point for identifying such bonds and similarities, he continued, and also for learning about our differences and eliminating possible prejudices and stereotypes.

Father Arturo Corral, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Los Angeles, described the roundtables as a positive “first step” toward understanding differences in order to work together more productively and positively impact important societal issues, such as immigration and workers’ rights.

One of the topics addressed at Father Corral’s table (by three Jewish rabbis and three Latino Catholic priests) involved sharing memories about their initial introductions to each other’s faith traditions (e.g., a television documentary about the Holocaust). That led to a discussion about similarities, both cultural (how both groups have faced prejudice/discrimination) and religious (“Jesus was Jewish”).

Father Corral found the interfaith gathering to be a “very positive experience,” and was encouraged to see leaders from both religions in attendance, including Bishop Salazar, who participated alongside fellow priests and rabbis during the roundtable discussions.

“He was with us, showing us the importance of strengthening and embracing our relationship with the Jewish community,” Father Corral said. “That meant a lot to me.”

During his address, Bishop Salazar discussed the importance of the Second Vatican Council’s Nostra Aetate, the groundbreaking 1965 declaration that called for Catholics and Jews to engage in friendly dialogue and biblical and theological discussions, and also calls for the Church to dialogue with other world religions.

“This is a real challenge to all of us, to move more closely together,” said Bishop Salazar. “Today [we called] Latinos and Jews together in this great part of the world, to have Catholic priests and Jewish rabbis come together to see how we can work more effectively with one another, understanding one another’s traditions, and then move forward to see how we can better minister to our people.”

For Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard, senior rabbi at Arat Ari El in Valley Village and president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the interfaith event offered the opportunity to step away from his day-to-day life and “broaden” his perspective. “I’m aware of the insularity of my life, even as a rabbi in a very open and inclusive kind of community.”

He found it very fulfilling “to be able to have a conversation with this group and to hear their different responses, even if the responses aren’t directly related to something Rabbi Angel was saying, but just as a touch-point for different kinds of ideas — that’s worth the ticket.”


Voices

Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

Kathryn Jean Lopez

It was in the general-purpose room of St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines that Donald Trump made his last pitch to Iowa voters, inside a caucus room. He wanted to make sure people remembered that not only will he build the wall on our border with Mexico, but that he’s the only candidate who will make Mexico pay for it.

Events

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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at cvieira@sndca.org, or visit sndca.org/nunrun. 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 atwww.boscotech.edu/events. Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at MathCompetition@boscotech.edu.

     

    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or dre@sjbdls.org.

     

    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  

     

    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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