Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Interfaith fellowship Shabbat at Beth Am


Rabbi Rick Sherwin

Following the message of Psalm 133, verse 1-"Hineh mah tov u'mah na'im, shevet achim gam yachad" (Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity), Congregation Beth Am in Longwood will host an Interfaith Shabbat Experience on Friday, March 28, at 7:30 pm. Rabbi Rick Sherwin will share the Beth Am bima with local pastors and ministers and their congregants will sit side-by-side with those from the Central Florida Jewish Community who are welcome to attend this unique and uplifting evening.

Rabbi Rick, as he prefers to be known, brought this Kabbalat Shabbat together. He stated, "The very first chapter in the Hebrew Bible reflects the universal value of human dignity: "God created the 'Adam' in the Divine Image, male and female together. Since every human being is a descendant of the first 'Adam,' we correctly conclude that we must treat every individual as a reflection of the Divine Image regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, physical abilities, mental capabilities, political affiliation, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation. In fulfillment of this, it is appropriate that Jews and Christians in our community develop a better understanding of each other so that we can fulfill the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King and walk the earth like brothers. A first step can be to expose our Christian neighbors to a traditional Shabbat experience and explain the rituals and the philosophy of Shabbat."

The Kabbalat Shabbat service will feature participation of the invited Interfaith community along with musical enhancement by the Beth Am choir. The invited Christian clergy will contribute their commentary. This service will kick-off a series of study sessions at Beth Am and in local churches titled "Jewish Responses to Christian Questions." Rabbi Rick has asked church leaders to submit questions for this educational series. Many have already responded. Some of these questions that will be addressed during the coming weeks are: Why do Jews wear a head covering when worshiping and everyone else uncovers their head as a sign of respect? Do Jews believe that God tests humanity with illness and disaster as in the Book of Job? Is it possible that sacrifices came to an end because Jesus was the ultimate sacrificial Lamb? Did Jesus, Peter and the Apostles misuse Jewish Scripture?

Debbie Davids, president of Congregation Beth Am, enthusiastically welcomes the entire Jewish and Christian communities to attend this groundbreaking service. Davids offered, "Shabbat is the traditional day of the week when Jews come together to focus on the intangibles of life like shared relationships, love and laughter. It is only appropriate that the tent expand to include peoples of many faiths. This is the first of many steps that we will take at Beth Am to build bridges instead of barriers."

For more information on this Fellowship Shabbat and activities at Beth Am consult the synagogue's web site at http://www.CongBethAm.org.


Reader Comments(1)

Intefaith writes:

I had the privilege of participating in this bridge-building, perspective-sharing, mind-opening event, and I want to thank both Rabbi Rick Sherwin and Congregation Beth Am for reaching out to the broader community as they did. I hope they will continue such gestures of friendship and that others in all faith traditions will follow their example.--James Coffin, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Central Florida.


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