Within Jewish tradition, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) are read on a yearly cycle. This is similar to our Christian cycle of Sunday readings. For several years, a group of 10-12 people have met in the Education Centre every second Friday to study the weekly Torah portion, using Jewish sources and commentaries.
Why do we do this? For most of us, it began with a workshop in 2003 at St. Paul's College by the late Brother Jack Driscoll, director of the Bat Kol Institute in Jerusalem. His teaching, on how to study Hebrew scripture by "excavating" the texts using Jewish sources, opened up the richness of the Old Testament for us. As Brother Jack explained: "If we want to know Jesus, we need to know what he learned and how he learned. Jesus after all was born a Jew and remained a Jew."
"Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would be an incomprehensible book, a plant deprived of its roots and destined to dry up and wither." Vatican document: The Jewish People #84 following Nostra Aetate.
The Bat Kol Institute was born out of the call of the Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate, to address the relationship between the Christian church and the Jewish people. Dr. Maureena Fritz, Sister of Sion and professor emeritus of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, made it her mission within Christian education to promote the teachings of the church as they evolved from Nostra Aetate. Thus, the Bat Kol Institute was born.
For over 25 years, the Bat Kol Institute supports Christians traveling to Jerusalem for a month-long course on one of the five books of the Torah. Rabbis and Hebrew University professors help participants immerse in the people, the land and the Book. When they return home, participants bring the vision of Bat Kol with them.
Every member of our local group who has responded to this call to study in Jerusalem has returned vitalized to pass on what they've received. If you're interested in learning more, please contact the Parish Office.