I didn’t know much about Catholicism when I started working at Catholic Theological Union. I’m Jewish, and Catholicism has always been outside the realm of my experience. Although some might find it unusual that a Jewish person would be on staff at CTU, it’s not really that unorthodox to me. I grew up with a faith background, and it feels comfortable to be around religion, even when it’s not my own tradition. I come to CTU with a respect of all religions and a curiosity about other cultures and faiths. Likewise, everyone here has welcomed me with open arms. Interfaith is not just a word at CTU; it’s something that is truly practiced.
That said, working at CTU has made me think quite a bit about differences and similarities. There are some days I am reminded of our differences, especially when I encounter unfamiliar aspects of Catholicism. I’m full of questions: "What is Advent?"; "Why are you bringing in palm fronds on Ash Wednesday?"; "What exactly is the Eucharist?" My questions may seem basic, but I’m starting at ground zero. I’m quite appreciative of my fellow coworkers who patiently explain aspects of the religion to me.
I have also have had the privilege to dialogue not only with Catholics, but Muslims as well. I’ve filmed lectures where Muslims have spoken about interfaith. I have had discussions with a Muslim student about the recent discrimination she faced in Israel. This was challenging to hear, especially given that my father’s family is Israeli. However, I am grateful that CTU offers a safe space where we can explore these issues.
Being at CTU is also a reminder of our similarities. I share CTU’s values of justice, love, and peace. At a recent work retreat, both a fellow staff member and I remarked that Jerusalem is one of our most cherished places. We both commented on the religious history and the sacred spiritual feeling within the walls of the Old City. I love Jerusalem; the city feels like home.
I feel truly blessed to be at CTU. This is a place of deep learning and growth. I look forward to continuing the interreligious dialogue as we all honor and respect our differences and similarities.
Ronit Bezalel | Webmaster/Media Manager | firstname.lastname@example.org