For many years now at the conclusion of Lent on Good Friday, we have held a Tenebrae Service. We have also invited one of the Rabbis from Temple Israel to join us for this service. The reason for this is that in the history of our Church, Christians have been especially cruel to Jews, often blaming them for the death of Jesus. If not actively encouraging this erroneous belief, the Catholic Church often kept silent in the face of it. This attitude continued until the church Fathers of the Second Vatican Council produced a document called Nostra Aetate (in our age), which dealt with the relationship between Catholics and other religions. One of the most important statements in the document is the declaration that “the Jews” are not to be blamed for the death of Jesus. On the contrary, Christians are to respect Jews as their elders in the faith. They are one ones with whom God entered into the Abrahamic Covenant in which we share.
Given the above, we invite a rabbi from Temple Israel to speak to us on this most sacred day in our Christian liturgical calendar so that we might emphasize that Jews and Christians both claim Abraham as our father in the faith and both of us enjoy a covenant with God. We differ greatly in our faith, but we are profoundly united in that we all worship the Creator of the Universe.
At the Tenebrae service each year we also take up a collection. The proceeds from this collection help fund the interfaith efforts and activities of the Downtown Clergy and Congregations.