With his even good humor, Urecki said midway that he felt like he was being interrogated by a Senate committee. Earlier, however, he had alluded to the fact that historically when Jews were summoned to appear before a Christian conclave it was almost invariably to force converson or exile upon them.
Christians think of the year of 1492 as "when Columbus sailed the ocean blue" while for Jews this is the date when they were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. A Dominican priest who taught theology at Notre Dame once told me with a thin smile, "Whatever you might say about the Inquisition, it saved Spain from the Church."
Urecki is an avuncular fellow, but when the invitation to speak came, I suspect that he may have felt a little like Jonah when God dispatched him to preach to the people of Nivenah, i.e., he was fearful that they might convert. After all, Urecki was asking us to ignore 2000 years of "brain washing."
Systemically viewed, Christianity is probably best viewed as a Jewish heresy. We violate the most basic tenet of Judaism with our "man/god" (Who knows what the Holy Spirit is?) and expect the Children of Israel to go along because of some "prophecies" that we have wrenched from their texts. For example, we created the doctrine of "original sin" out of whole cloth, i.e., humans depravity of such a magnitude that it can only be remedied by God's sacrifice of God's self, where the actual text speaks merely of the yetzer hara, our inclination to do evil.
Christianity focuses on the persona of Jesus and it took us more than 300 years to elevate him from failed prophet status to part of a godhead. Someone pointed out during the question period that neither the Mormons nor the Jehovah's Witnesses believe in the divinity of Jesus, putting them in the same bag with Jews and Muslims ("a good man but . . . ").
It took George Daugherty, the famed "Earl of Elview," to point out the basic fact that it's probably not so much what we believe as how we live: "Love your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself."
The Rabbi agreed. Both concepts are, of course, quintessential Judaism. Moses and Hillel gave us the same guidelines.
Rogers is a member of St. Ann's Episcopal Church in New Martinsville and Temple Shalom in Wheeling. He has a M.Div. Degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and an M.A. in Sacred Theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in New York.