Sorry there hasn’t been much blogging going on lately. And I also apologise for being really behind in reading your blogs too. I have been really busy.
One of the things I have been really busy with was this year’s Annual Jewish Catholic Dinner held at the Archdiocesan centre on Sunday night.
I can hear the question marks in the thought bubble above your head. Let me explain.
Three years ago, members of the Jewish and Catholic communities in Melbourne thought it might be a good idea to have a special dinner together to aid our mutual respect and genial relations. The first event was held in 2005 for 50 Catholics and 50 Jews, the Jews playing host. We had speakers from both communties, and a musical item from an all male Jewish choir, mainly singing liturgical music and psalmody.
It was an outstanding success and we did it again in 2006, again on Jewish premises, but this time with a Catholic ensemble providing the music–singing a selection of psalms in various styles.
Three years later and it was our turn to play host. As chief cook and bottle washer of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission, much of the organisation fell to me, so I was pretty busy getting the Kosher caterers, sound system, presentations etc. all organised.
But the night was a hit–the best yet. The Jews provided the music, with a Polish-Jewish folk duo playing keyboard and violin and singing all the old popular Jewish music like “Hava Nagilah” and “If I were a rich man”.
There were the usual speeches, but Rabbi Fred Morgan gave us a interactive bible study style reflection on Psalm 150–with Jews and Catholics together contributing to the insights. He then ended by leading us in singing the psalm with a response in Hebrew.
The musos got going again and then the president of the Jewish Community Council honoured us with a song (he’s a great singer).
But the interaction didn’t stop there. Inspired by the music, the Jewish ladies spontaneously got up and started dancing (in a ring with hands joined in traditional style). A couple of our religious sisters joined them, and then (breaking all orthodox rules) they dragged in a man–one of our priests, who was then joined by one of the progressive Rabbis, and then it was all on for young and old!
I think we can confidently say that Jews and Catholics have never danced together in the Archdiocesan centre before.
Earlier in the day, in a homily based on the Gospel of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee, my parish priest had quoted Chesterton who once said “good religion can always laugh at itself”. Well, we always can have a good laugh with our Jewish friends, and we laughed a lot more than usual on Sunday night. I arrived home very tired but feeling that there had been a real meeting of hearts.