Rabbi Yaakov Ephraim Parisi told his very inspiring story at a packed house at Skokie Chabad Friday night, March 5. He grew up in an Italian-Catholic home in Brooklyn and was religious from the start, serving as an altar boy and then leaving the Catholic Church and starting his own small church in Oklahoma. It was there he began studying Judaism, spending a fortune on Artscroll publications to enhance his learning and knowledge. Rabbi Parisi and his wife completed their conversion process on the same day about 12 years ago. Listening to him speak makes one realize what a treasure the history of the Jewish people really is.
Dinner was outstanding: challah rolls, gefilte fish, (pareve) eggplant parmesan, baby baked potatoes, and breaded chicken. Dessert was fresh fruit and Danish.
The only part of Rabbi Parisi’s speech in which I would disagree with him is what he said about Christianity. He singled out the Southern Baptist Church in particular for pouring millions of dollars into Jews for Jesus. If that’s true (and I suspect it is), that of course is abhorrent. However, many, if not most, conservative and evangelical Christian groups are friends to the Jewish people. This includes the Roman Catholic Church, which I think has 60 million or so American members. These churches support Israel and do not try to convert Jews because they do not believe Jews need to be saved. The major Jewish organizations in the U.S. could accomplish much by joining forces with Christians to:
Fight Islamic terrorism in the U.S. and worldwide;
Support Israel and oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; and
(orthodox) Support tuition vouchers
The Jewish people constitute such a small segment of American society that it only makes sense to team up with other groups who share Jewish values.