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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


September 25, 2015  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Upcoming pulpit swap all about relationships

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

After nearly two centuries of icy relationships between Jews and Catholics, a seismic change took place 50 years ago when the Second Vatican Council approved a document – Nostra Aetate – dramatically changing how the Catholic Church views Jews and other non-Christian religions.

A celebration of that change in views will take place next month when the bishop of the local Catholic diocese and the longestserving congregational rabbi in the Tampa Bay area swap pulpits.

The Most Rev. Robert M. Lynch, Bishop of the St. Petersburg Catholic Diocese, will speak on the current state of Catholic-Jewish dialogue at Congregation B’nai Israel on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. A week later Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B’nai Israel will visit the nearby Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle to speak on the same topic on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.

The idea for the exchange came from Rabbi Luski.

“A few months ago, in early spring or late winter, I suggested that on the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, I would be honored if he [Bishop Lynch] would address the community at large, not just my congregation. He accepted graciously as long as I did the same, and I was happy to accept as well,” Rabbi Luski said.

He emphasized that Bishop Lynch’s visit is truly for the entire community and has been endorsed by Pinellas County Board of Rabbis and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties.

“This landmark document inaugurated historic changes in the Catholic Church’s relations with other faiths and about one third of the document was dedicated to Judaism and the Jewish people,” Rabbi Luski said.

In the document, the Catholic Church “rejected the charge that Jews are guilty of killing Christ and went further in prohibiting teachings in which Jews are seen as accursed. It also condemned anti-Semitism and affirmed Christianity’s Jewish roots and validated God’s covenants with the Jewish people,” Rabbi Luski said.

The Nostra Aetate (meaning In Our Time) document is also known as the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religion and was approved by the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 28, 1965.

During the past 50 years changes have taken place, though not always swiftly. Rabbi Luski said it was not until 1986 that Pope John Paul II became the first Pope to visit a Jewish place of worship. Locally, Rabbi Luski said, about 10-15 years ago Bishop Lynch invited a group of local rabbis for an interfaith conversation with local Catholic priests when Bishop Lynch was hosting the Bishop of Baltimore.

Luski said local rabbis also had the opportunity to spend a day of education with priests of the local diocese at a conference in Tampa, where the priests learned about Judaism.

Bishop Lynch has been the Bishop of the St. Petersburg Diocese for 19 years and Rabbi Jacob Luski has been rabbi at Congregation B’nai Israel for 38 years and over time they have become personal friends.

Rabbi Luski said more than a decade ago, Bishop Lynch was the first local bishop to address a local Jewish congregation when he spoke at Congregation B’nai Israel.

“We both have continued to reach out on a personal and professional level. We get together occasionally on a social basis and discuss theology, politics and everyday show business,” Rabbi Luski said.

Bishop Lunch was in Philadelphia to meet Pope Francis and could not be reached for comment. The St. Petersburg Diocese encompasses Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

For those planning to attend either service, The Cathedral of St. Jude The Apostle is at 5815 Fifth Ave. N. in St. Petersburg and Congregation B’nai Israel is located at 300 58th St. N., St Petersburg. These events are free but reservations are requested. Register at:

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