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 | Keishla Espinal

Local Catholics Visit and Tour a Synagogue

News reports tend to highlight divisions between religious groups. But recently, local religious leaders hosted events to build bridges of understanding and dialogue.

On Tuesday, November 28th Rabbi Andres Kornworcel invited members of Christ the King Catholic Church, in Tampa to visit Congregation Rodeph Sholom to learn about the Jewish faith and to tour a Synagogue.

Sarah Sievers, a parishioner at Christ the King was among those who attended.

“I attended today because I have my master’s in religious studies from the University of South Florida and interfaith dialogue has always been a point of interest for me,” said Sievers. “My sister also just married someone who is of the Jewish faith and with all the current events happening right now, it was important for me to attend and learn.”

“These events are crucial for people in our country to have empathy for people who aren’t like us, people who believe in different things,” Sievers added.

Father Len Plazewski, pastor of Christ the King invited members of the Jewish community to visit his parish on December 4th. Father Plazewski is a member of the National Advisory Board for the Center for Catholic Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University.

“It is important to be together as both members of the Catholic and Jewish communities and to learn about each other,” said Faither Plazewski. “So often we drive by each other’s houses of worship and have no idea what goes on there except maybe from something one sees in a movie. For both Catholics and Jews, it is an opportunity to see what we share in common as well as some of the things that make us different from one another.”

During the tour of his parish, Father Plazewski spoke about Catholic art and architecture and how that supports Catholic beliefs and prayer.  Father Andrew Burns, Parochial Vicar at Christ the King Catholic Church, spoke about the Catholic liturgy and what Catholics do when they gather for Mass.

Dr. Matthew Tapie, Director for the Center for Catholic Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University played a big role in the planning of this gathering.

“There’s a real need in the community for people to step into the shoes of other religious traditions,” Dr. Tapie stated. “Most of these other religions besides Christianity are minority religions in the United States, including Judaism and Islam.”

The Center for Catholic Jewish Studies at Sain Leo University was established 25 years ago. They work to build mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation among Jews, Catholics, and all people of good will by providing opportunities for interfaith education and dialogue.