Jews not entering Christian Churces?

I was reading this on, and in one of the comments, someone said

Is this really the case? Is it only for certain groups of Jewish people? (I don’t know how the people of Jewish faith organize themselves, so I’m not sure of the right terminology to use)

Mom’s Lutheran. Dad’s a Conservative Jew.

When they got married in 1957, they had weddings in both a Jewish temple and a Lutheran Church. Dad witnessed my baptism in church when I was a baby.

Please bear in mind that “Jewish” people is a very diverse group. You’ll probably find almost the same differences between Jewish persons at one end of the spectrum on a given issue and the opposite end of the spectrum on that issue as you will between Christians or Muslims.
And let me tell you… some Christians don’t even buy into the trinity. I met a couple of pentecostal folk who seemed to not buy into the concept of the trinity. I don’t know if that’s a defining characteristic for all “pentecostal” churches, but I got the impression it was from those persons.

I never heard of this, having been raised in Reformed and Conservative temples. It might be true for some Orthodox branches, but I’ve never heard of it.

The trinity is one God, not three.
Don’t ask me

I’ve known some Orthodox Jews who would not attend a non-Jewish House of Worship. The explanation I’ve heard is that they don’t want to give the appearance, even if only inadvertently, that they are an adherent of another religion. When viewed in the context of the history of the Jews living as a dispersed minority among other religions, and the occasional episodes of coerced conversion and the like, this rule makes some sense.

However, it is only some Orthodox Jews that believe this. I know many who will freely attend services of other religions. Some others would not regular worship services, but would attend events like weddings and funerals.

Thanks for the responses. I thought that this was probably the interpretation of a relatively small group, and not some universal Jewish belief.

Also, if a Mod happens to see this, could you correct my idiotic typo in the title :rolleyes:

Oh, and because I’ve never had the opportunity to use it before, and this is related, ;j

There’s no point generalizing the behaviour of a few to an entire group.

Christian church rituals just weren’t discussed in my house, and when I was ten, we visited some huge cathedral/museum. Mom hissed at me when I experimentally lit a few candles. Only years later did the potentially blasphemous significance occur to me, (Mom had a habit of snapping at me without explanation when in my innocense I would say or do something grossly inappropriate) but it’s not like we were stoned or cast out or anything.

Hey, I was just a curious Jewish kid.

My ex used to make me go to service with her. I think she was trying to make me convert. Her Dad was a buddhist, and her Mother was a Scientologist…her and her family were messed up. I’m still Jewish.

As a child I attended a Christian service at the invitation of an friendmother. At one point everyone stood up and filed to the front, so I did too–ultimately unintentionally taking communion. Afterward the mother triumphantly told me that by taking communion before baptism, I had committed a mortal sin, and that the only way to save myself from damnation was to convert, confess, and repent. I told her that as a Jew I didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus and therefore by my lights had not committed a sin. End of friendship, beginning of Jewish consciousness. I do not go into others’ sacred places lightly, lest they feel compelled to save me.

Shoshana: the mother sounds like a bit of a nut. Generally, it’s not possible to commit a sin thru lack of understanding. The whole idea of ‘sin’ is that you do something wrong knowing that it shouldn’t be done.

My family is Reform Jewish, and they would sooner die than enter a church.

However, my former synagogue, Wilshire Blvd. Temple, in Los Angeles, would have a High Holy Day service at the church across the street. And I’ve heard of some congregations that share space with a church.


You’re OP mentions Jews entering a church, and your quote relates to * worshipping* in a church.

Which one are you actually asking about?

Way way back when, Middle Ages era, rabbis debated whether Christianity was “idolatrous” on account of having three gods and having lots of idols/icons. I don’t want to get into the argument of whether Christianity does in fact have three gods, I just want to describe how it looks to an outsider. When you see people praying to a statue of the mother of one of the gods, it looks amazingly like ancient paganism.

The discussion was important, because Jews are supposed to accept martyrdom rather than to worship idols; hence, if faced with forced conversion to Christianity, what should be done? If Christianity was idolatrous, then it was better to accept martyrdom. If Christianity was not idolatrous, then perhaps forced conversion was preferable to death.

The issue was finally resolved (after considerable nastiness and objection on the part of the Christian leadership) that Christianity was not idolatrous. However, Judaism does not have a central authority, so different groups, branches, sects, and individuals were free to interpret how they wished. In areas where there was a high level of persecution by Christians, Jews tended to react by separating themselves even further from Christians, and held to the notion that Christianity was idolatry.

For such people and in such areas, it was forbidden to enter a Christian church. Many Jews would cross the street so as not to walk alongside a Christian Church, and even (surruptiously) spit a curse. It’s not a surprising reaction when the Christian leadership sponsored pogroms (outbreaks of violence, murder and theft against Jews) and similar persecutions.

For modern times, and for present day America, where persecutions are no longer legal, and are not sanctioned by Christian churches (well, except in rare circs), there has been more coming together. Most modern Jews do not have a problem with joint (neutral) worship services, or with shared experiences. However, there is usually still a line somewhere.

Jews who are educated in their religion know that they are not supposed to bow to idols, nor to give the appearance of such. Hence, their behavior in a church might be somewhat awkward, since they could not give the appearance of bowing towards statues. Leaning down to tie your shoe in front of a statue of a god might be seen as idol worship. In the example Robyn gives of shared space, for instance, Jews using a church usually cover the statues and pictures.

Pesonal anecdote: When I was in the boy scouts, in the mid 1950s, our troop went to an Easter service as a “group religious activity.” I have no idea what Church it was, but I was the only Jews, and I have to tell you that it was pretty awful listening to the pastor rant and rave about how the Jews did this and the Jews did that and the Jews killed Jesus, and to see all the people crying. I decided I’d never go to a Christian service again.

Later in life, in college, I became good friends with a Lutheran pastor, and we’ve visited them and attended services, usually every couple of years, and it’s a whole different experience. I’m not sure how much of the difference is Easter vs non-Easter, how much is the denomination, how much is him vs that fire-and-brimstone preacher, and how much is the year 2003 vs the 1950s. Whatever it is, it’s certainly a more positive trend towards mutual understanding, and movement away from the hatreds and bigotries of prior ages.

It is my Freudian guess that the real reason for some Jews refusing to go into a Christian church has been the loathesome history of Christian anti-Semitism. The whole ‘trinitarianism as idolatry’ is not the real issue (although, the graven images, which certainly goes against Jewish sensibilities, would be troublesome). It’s easier (and safer) to have a theological justification than to express lingering (and justifiable) resentment and hatred. The decline of anti-Semitism (although, certainly not its abolishment, so far) among Christians is changing this situation, and more and more Jews no longer have a problem entering Christian churches.

In the same fashion, it’s been known for some modern Israeli heads of state to be physically unable to converse with German diplomats due to the lingering afteraffects of the holocaust (and again, time is changing that). This has nothing to do with Jewish beliefs, just the history of hostility.

Shalom ;j

A Jew, a Wiccan, and a Muslim walk into a church…

Catholics pray in front of statues, etc, for intercession. That’s where the saint, or whoever, speaks to God for you. They pray through the same saints even without a statue present. By covering the statues, you lend them significance that you claim they don’t possess, do you not?
The Holy Trinity is indeed one God. Each of the Trinity are complete. That means that each of the Trinity are the Trinity. This is one of those things you gotta take on faith.
Which explains why I’m not a believer.
When I was a catholic (as a kid), we could go to any church as long as we didn’t forget we were catholics. Basically, anyway.
Peace :stuck_out_tongue:

I have been in many churches and also to weddings and funeral services, but only once to a regular service (a friend was singing in the choir) and it made me sufficiently uncomfortable that I do not think I would repeat the experience. Even though I have no religious feeling and don’t especially like to go to synagogue services either. But at least I know how to behave there and can even recite most of the (Hebrew) prayers.

FWIW, my niece had her Bat Mitzvah in a Friend’s Meeting House that her small reconstructionist synagogue shared (in Haverford, PA). But I have no idea what, if any gods the Friends worship or if what they do counts as a religious service at all. There was nothing to cover up as I recall.

The Society of Friends are better known as Quakers.

One of the hallmarks of the Quaker faith is the personal relationship with God: the relationship is so complete, that you don’t even need a priest/pastor/preacher/etc., nor a “service” as such.

One merely sits in the pew and silently meditates. Occasionally, a Friend is moved by the Spirit and shares some profound insight with his fellow congregates.

BTW, the SoF is indeed a Christian sect.

I was bat mitzvahed under a giant cross. So was Billdo. As our Grampa said, “It’s a ‘t,’ for ‘temple’” :slight_smile:

Our small reform synagogue rented space from the local Methodist church. Some families elected to have the bar/bat mitzvahs in the gym/all purpose room, but most had them in the very nice sanctuary, complete with portable ark and giant cross hanging from the ceiling.

Somebody help me here.
An index card in the back of my muddled brain is coming up with marit ayin(?) which would be the appearance of something wrong.

By this I semi-remember that doing something wrong is bad, but doing the appearnace of something wrong is also bad.

In this case, appearing to worship in a house other than Jewish would be as bad as actually participating in the service.