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Evansville, Indiana
December 25, 1987     The Message
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December 25, 1987
 

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............................. 16 ..... The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana December 25, 1987 Corpus Christi sixth grader David Weis poses with Rabbi Mat- thew Michaels during a recent visit to Temple Adath Israel. Rab- bi Michaels is holding Torah scrolls. -- Message Photo by Mary Ann Hughes S na.qogue visit Rabbi addresses Corpus Christi students By MARY ANN HUGHES Message Staff Writer Students from Corpus Christi School, Evansville, took a bus trip across town last week to visit Temple Adath Israel, the only Jewish synagogue in the area. For most of the students -- and faculty -- it was their first visit to a synagogue. Rabbi Matthew Michaels met the visitors and escorted them into the synagogue. "I want you to feel at ease," he told the students, "and remember, there are no stupid questions. Ques- tions are the way we learn." He asked the students if they knew what a rabbi does. They weren't really sure. He ex- plained that he does many of the same things a priest does. "I teach, I preach and I counsel people. I spend time learning and I visit the sick. I mark occa- sions of life religiously, like birth and death and in between." He asked the students to look around the synagogue and" see if there are things you recognize or have no idea what they are." The students noted there was no crucifix, no altar table, no kneelers and no tabernacle. They noticed the six-pointed Jewish star carved into the side of each pew. Rabbi Michaels pointed out that there were no statues, no stations of the cross and no holy water fonts. He also told the students that they would not find "any human figures in any of the stained glass windows, carvings or pictures." But like certain things are always found in all Catholic churches, Rabbi Michaels told the students that certain things are always found in synagogues. There are always two candlesticks. "They symbolize the two commandments: to observe the Sabbath Day and to remember the Sabbath Day." A Menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum which serves as a reminder of Temple days, is also always found in synagogues as are the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. An "Always Light" is located in the center of the altar. "Just like the crucifix in your church, it is the most im- portant thing in the synagogue," Rabbi Michaels told the students. Behind the light, an Ark holds Torah Scrolls containing the first five books of the Old Testament. "Each week, in the Jewish ser- vice, a section is read from the first five books. It takes a full year." The scrolls are written in Hebrew, which is the "Jewish language of prayer." One of the scrolls at this synagogue "was saved from the Holocaust and we are the guardians of it." Rabbi Michaels reminded the students that there are no crucifix, no stations of he cross, no altar, no wafers nd no wine in the synagogue. "These things are all connected to one person -- Jesus. Because Jesus is so central, you have all those symbols" in Catholic churches. These symbols are missing in Jewish temples because "what is not part of the Jewish tradi- tion is Jesus. Jesus does not play a central role -- or any role -- in Jewish tradition. He is not.trt of Jewish theology or philosophy." He reminded the students that Jewish people do not celebrate Christmas because Jesus "is not part of the Jewish tradition." Rabbi Michaels told the students that Moses is the major Biblical figure in Jewish tradition, but God was the key figure in the Torah. The rabbi told the students that he was "very happy bei a Jew. It fullfills me. I hope are very happy with the religion you are." He added, "If you learn anything today, I hope you learn that different doesn't mean better or worse. It doesn't mean right or wrong. Different means not the same." arta(00r 3art j lus yau mthJ abun00nU'oq an0000lac00 SAI NT MEIN00AD ARCHASBEY & SEMINAllY /"Ed00tc00t00. rarzs00 00rtes00r OVer/3o00ea00 1