Jewish, Christian Congregations Meet, Learn by Visiting Houses of Worship

Rabbi Ron Isaacs and wife, Leora, surrounded by Wildwood Catholic High School students and Tabernacle Youth Group during a December 2017 visit to Beth Judah Temple, Wildwood.

ERMA – There is no denying war and disorder are running rampant today – globally and locally.  We truly live in a messy world.  So, what can be done about it? 

Two faith communities in Cape May County are aiming for the higher goal of “Peace & Unity.”  That was the title of the recent series of gatherings between Tabernacle United Methodist Church in Erma, and Congregation Beth Judah in Wildwood.

Last November, Tabernacle’s youth group visited Beth Judah Temple for a meal and a tour. It was a time of great fellowship and deep learning about Christianity’s Jewish roots. 

The Torah scrolls (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) were displayed. Each youth was encouraged to touch the scroll with the Yad (“hand” in Hebrew), a metal pointer used as a guide for reading to avoid physically touching the holy parchment.

In December, Tabernacle joined students from Wildwood Catholic High School for a Friday evening Shabbat (Sabbath) service at Beth Judah. 

Rabbi Ronald Isaacs, the leader of the congregation, took time during each portion of the service to explain its significance to the Jewish people. 

Afterward, everyone had refreshments in the fellowship hall. Part of the celebration included kugel, a pudding/casserole dish made of egg noodles and/or potatoes traditionally served on Shabbat.

In early February 2018, the members of Beth Judah and Tabernacle joined in the Tabernacle sanctuary for further Peace and Unity.

It was an hour of scripture and story from “Rabbi Ron,” his wife Leora, and the Rev. Jennifer Bolton (“Pastor Jen”), Tabernacle’s associate pastor. 

After this, all joined in the lobby for refreshments, further conversation, and of course, more kugel.

Rabbi Isaacs said the theme of peace and unity is very relevant “because we have so many divisions within our own country as well as the world-at-large.” 

He added that when it comes to people of different faiths there also is much miscommunication. It is important for those in each faith to learn from the other, “What it has in common and work together for the common good.” 

The rabbi highlighted Psalm 34:4 emphasizes that “working to bring more peace into the world is considered an important Jewish virtue, and it must be pursued at all times.” 

He noted that Beth Judah is the only Jewish presence in all of Cape May County.

Rev. Bolton said the Peace and Unity event was important because “We live in a world full of fear and misconception.” 

She added that she was surprised at some of the curious and perceived confused comments she received upon telling others of her involvement at a Jewish synagogue. 

“It is always the unknown that scares us the most,” she offered, adding, “Peace and unity come from knowing one another, sharing memories, and creating experiences.” 

She stressed, however, that talking about peace is not enough – “Acting out peace is how it is truly achieved.”