Last year, while on internship in Seattle, I had the opportunity to visit a synagogue for the first time. As a follow-up to an interfaith Thanksgiving service, local Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran congregations had been invited to Temple de Hirsch Sinai for their Friday evening Sabbath liturgy. We were warmly and graciously welcomed, but I found myself feeling rather sheepish, embarrassed at how little I knew and understood about the faith of my neighbors.
What a gift, then, to discover that the Catholic Theological Union, Hyde Park's Roman Catholic graduate school, was offering an Introduction to Judaism class this spring, taught by Rabbi David Fox Sandmel. On Monday morning I walked the fifteen minutes down 53rd Street, took a right on Cornell, and buzzed the double-doors.
In an instant I found myself in unfamiliar territory, in a new building, in a new seminary, like the first day of class at LSTC so many semesters before. I looked around for a building directory, ready to start from scratch...
A moment later a fellow student noticed the bewildered look on my face, introduced himself, and helped me find my classroom. Three hours later I left CTU, my notebook full of lecture notes and my bag full of new books. Our first session was an exhilarating experience, an initial foray into the anatomy of a faith that is, for Christians, naturally familiar yet wholly other. I can’t wait for more.
It all seemed just about perfect for this, my last semester in seminary. Thanks be to God.