Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Finding Common Grounds

It's always good when people of different faiths can find a common ground to better understand each other. A Rabbi and a priest were able to achieve that successfully.

The Register-Guard reported:

Jonathan Seidel and Tom Yurchak sometimes like to share jokes with each other. Rabbi-priest jokes, to be precise.
They probably can be forgiven, since Seidel is rabbi of Eugene's fledgling Or Hagan Light of the Garden minyan, and Yurchak is the parish priest at St. Jude Catholic Church. But the two men's shared passions go far beyond a good punch line.

When Seidel decided last year to start a new, conservative Jewish congregation, he knew he needed to find a worship space to rent. So he went to St. Jude, widely regarded as Eugene's most liberal Catholic parish, to inquire about the availability of its chapel sanctuary - on Saturdays, the Jewish sabbath, not Sundays.

That's when he first met Yurchak, who had arrived at St. Jude only months earlier after serving St. Patrick Catholic Church in Canby for 10 years.

"We just really hit it off right away," said Seidel. "He has a good sense of humor, and we recognized right away that we both had an interest in scholarship and religious studies. I'd studied Christian thought and he'd studied Judaism. We had a language to speak to each other."

And so speak they did. Yurchak learned that Seidel had written articles and part of his doctoral dissertation on amulets - religious icons worn on the body because of their supposed power to protect against harm.

Seidel, in turn, learned about Yurchak's remarkable personal library -25,000 volumes, on virtually all aspects of religious history and church law, not to mention a Yiddish Bible - and his collection of nearly 100 crosses, amulets and other religious icons.




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