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Interfaith series features Two Perspectives of the Gospels: Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism

Temple Beth Shalom of the West Valley will present a four-part interfaith series focusing on two perspectives of the Gospels: Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism.

Temple Beth Shalom Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan and Bruce Scott, director of program ministries for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, will jointly teach the course, which will be from 10-11 a.m. Thursdays, April 4, 11, 18 and 25 at Temple Beth Shalom, 12202 N. 101st Ave. in Sun City. 

 Together, we will look at four Central topics in the development of Judaism and Christianity, as found in the Gospels. This is a great opportunity to compare Jewish and Christian perspectives on a variety of important foundational principles. 

We will start by looking at the great commandment. This is the mitzvah to love your neighbor as yourself. Rabbi Akiva says that this is a great principle in the Torah. We will look at how different Jewish and Christian thinkers analyzed this commandment and what the differences were between the perspectives. 

In the second week, we'll turn to the synagogue. When did the synagogue develop as a center for prayer as opposed to serving a more communal function? What can we learn from Christian sources about the synagogue? 

In the third week, we'll look at Shabbat. This is perhaps the central religious institution of Judaism. How did the Bible describe Shabbat observance and what did the rabbis add to this perspective? In the New Testament Jesus talks about Shabbat in several key passages, so we will look at his perspective as well. What did Christians decide to do vis-a-vis observance of the Shabbat? 

In the final week, we will look at forgiveness. Both Jews and Christians believe in forgiveness but how do their views differ? Throughout the sessions we will be using the text of the “Gospels and Rabbinic Judaism: A Study Guide.” We will be sending out excerpts from this book which include primary sources. If you are interested you may prefer to buy the entire book which is available from Amazon for about $16.

Rabbi Kaplan and Bruce Scott are two religious leaders who have very different approaches not only because they believe in and practice different faiths but also because they have different viewpoints about religious studies. This will be an exciting and unique opportunity to learn about religion from contrasting points of view.

Dana Evan Kaplan is the Rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom of the West Valley, a Reform Jewish congregation located in Sun City.  While serving as a pulpit rabbi for 25 years, he is recognized as an authority on the history and development of Reform Judaism, challenging Reform leaders with respect to the future of the Reform movement.  Among the several books he has authored, the most recent are “The New Reform Judaism: Challenges and Reflections” and “A Life of Meaning: Embracing Reform Judaism’s Sacred Path.”

Bruce Scott, author of the book “The Feasts of Israel: Seasons of the Messiah,” is a graduate of Central Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree.  Bruce is the Director of Program Ministries of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, a worldwide evangelical Christian ministry founded in 1938. In his current position, he oversees online educational programs, educational excursions to New York City's Jewish neighborhoods, and volunteer trips to Israel.

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