Saturday, June 6, 2015

Part One: Very Well-Attended Religion Program Delves Into Major Faiths

Wore my menorah earrings, which I painted with pink nail polish before I left for the program. Bought em at the Jewish Museum downtown.

I always set up the room - The Thunderbolt - a couple hours before showtime.

 As a nonprofit, we got a gift card for snacks.... Suzanne Foreman chose them and set them out. We also had hazelnut coffee and an assortment of teas.
Flowers for the guest speakers. Is that an orange dahlia poking out on the right in the last row?

We began with the most ancient religion on the program - Judaism. Abe Sandler gave a brilliant performance, speaking with knowledge and humor about the religion he was born into.

His parents were Orthodox, which meant they kept Kosher. Abe, as a kid, got into trouble when he failed to observe kosher laws, as he didn't know any better.

He discussed the various kinds of Judaism. Below are two...

Hasidic, who are very joyful and musical
Image result for hasidic jews  

Image result for reconstructionist jew      As you can see, women play major roles - rabbis, cantors - as they do in other movements of Judaism.

Wiki - Jewish Reconstructionist Communities,[1][2] is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan (1881–1983). The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization.

It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered. The movement developed from the late 1920s to 1940s, and it established a rabbinical college in 1968. It's right here in the Philadelphia area, Church Road in Wyncote.

BTW, I had called the Reconstructionist college hoping to get a speaker - none were available - I suggested it would be a great opportunity for students or graduating seniors - but none could be found.

Our program was on a Saturday, the Holy Day for Jews.

Image result for mordecai kaplan Here's Uncle Morty now, giving his blessing to today's program.

He performed the bat mitzvah of his eldest daughter, Judith Kaplan, at age 12. 

Rabbi Jason Klein  Say hello to Jason Klein, a relative thru marriage, who is the first openly gay man elected president of the Reconstructionist rabbinic movement.

Abe was bar-mitzvahed at 13. A woman in the audience asked about females.

Yes, he said, in the 1960s which was a time of social upheaval in America - Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, civil disobedience, "free love" and invention of birth control pills - the bat mitzvah gained ascendcy.

Am quoting now from Abe's written biography

At the age of 15 I met a man who told me that Jesus was my Jewish Messiah.  My initial reaction was one of anger and resistance.  After struggling with the issue of “Who is Jesus” for several months, and examining the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, I became convinced that Yeshua/Jesus is the promised Messiah.  I then repented of my sins and believed in Jesus as my Messiah and Savior.

After graduating from high school, I attended the Canadian Bible College in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  I married Janet, a Gentile with a Jewish heart, in 1963.  God has blessed us with four sons (Abraham, Daniel, Samuel, Benjamin) and 14 grandchildren.  We live in Northeast Philadelphia.  I commute weekly to New York City where I lead a Messianic Jewish congregation.

Janet and I are connected with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination.  We work in Messianic Jewish congregations and Abe leads one in New York City.  The congregation is called Beit Or Hamasheach – Messiah’s Lighthouse and is made up of Jews and Gentiles.  We celebrate all of the biblical holidays such as Passover, Feast of weeks/Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukah, etc.

I also developed and taught a Jewish studies program at Nyack College in Nyack, NY for 2 ½ years.

I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew.  My passion is to share with Jews and Gentiles why I as a Jew believe that our Jewish Messiah has come and that it is Yeshua/Jesus.


The prophets really impressed Abe, so much so, that as he wrote above, they helped convince him of the coming of Jesus or Yeshua in Hebrew. 

But we know how people fight about religion and Jews who believe in Jesus as the Messiah are often viewed as traitors, he said.

In the middle of the second century, AD, 'false messiahs' roamed the Holy Land.

View the list of Jewish "claimants" to be the Messiah.

Abe mentioned Simon bar Kokhba (died c. 135),  who founded a short-lived Jewish state before being defeated in the Second Jewish-Roman War.

Read the history of "The Rebbe" Menachem Schneerson, who many believed was the Messiah.

So many warring factions. Queen Elizabeth I in her Religious Settlement strode to bring peace to the many factions.

Image result for elizabeth first

Said Abe, "I believe God speaks to us and tells us things that will happen." He officiated at an outdoor wedding, where it was raining. Wait 15 minutes and the rain will stop, he said. And it did.

At Abington hospital, he sat beside a sick friend reading him the Bible. The friend was in bad shape with a failing de-fib in his chest, but the man's heart rate kept getting stronger and stronger while Abe was there.

He was discharged shortly thereafter from the hospital. The nurse had come in and said a woman in an adjoining unit had a similar problem that also vastly improved while Abe was there.


Monsignor Bolger spoke after Abe. He, too, was a passionate, knowledgable speaker who has a particular fondness for the late Pope John Paul II, who is now a saint. 

He went over the papal hierarchy, dating from Saint Peter, the Fisherman, all the way to the current pope.

Much of his talk concerned the late Saint John Paul.

John Paul II on 12 August 1993 in Denver, Colorado  One day he was in a crowd where the Pope was appearing. He saw him in the distance, which was a thrill.

Father Bolger talked about John Paul getting shot near his heart. A fraction of an inch more and he would have been dead.

"We believe in the will of God," he said. "And we accept it." If a child runs in the street and is killed, it was God's will. Or if someone saved the child, that is also God's will.

Father Bolger, who is 77, particularly admired Pope John's spirit as he grew old and frail.

"He taught us how to age and how to die," he said. He mentioned his holding the crucifix with shaking hands. Parkinson's.

Karol Wojtyla, the former name of the Polish Pope, "clandestinely" entered the seminary while the Nazis were in power. At the time he was a vigorous man, an athlete who enjoyed kayaking.

He was elected Pope at 58, after several votes. The first non-Italian pope in 455 years. The White Smoke blew from the roof of the Sistine Chapel, remember?

Image result for white smoke sistine chapel   He did not want to be Pope, as he was hard at work writing some doctrines, and would lose his freedom. As Pope, he modernized the church, yet stood strong on doctrine.

Read about how he helped the Jews here.

Father Bolger mentioned the controversial record of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

Father Bolger mentioned that Pope Francis is coming to Philly in the fall, the week of The World Meeting of Families.

The family is a very serious subject, stressed the Monsignor. "Some family members today are more saintly than I am, as a celibate."

Image result for blue bloods praying 
 Here the fictitious NYC police commissioner prays with his family on the TV show Blue Bloods.

Father Bolger also admired Pope Benedict XVI - a Benedictine scholar - for "stepping back from a powerful position." The now 88-yo retired pope stepped down in 2013.

Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19 (cropped).jpg  Pope Francis has certainly shaken things up. Many approve, others do not.

He's enjoying a good press, said Father Bolger, although "I'd hate to be his press agent" as he offers his opinion on everything.

"He's open to listening to people and lives a very humble life." The Buenos-Aires-born Jorge Mario Bergoglio lives in a guest house behind the Vatican, rather than in the Vatican.

 "I'd hate to be his press agent," he quipped, due to all the off-the-cuff - but heart-felt - remarks made by the new pope.

Image result for saint peter  
To get in touch with Monsignor Richard Bolger, call him at his retirement home in Warminster, PA, Regina Coeli (pronounced chelly) at (215) 441-4642.

1 comment:

  1. To reach Monsignor Richard Bolger, call him at his retirement residence Regina Coeli Residence, 685 York Rd, Warminster, PA 18974
    (215) 441-4642