Some of this was new, some not, but all quick interesting bits worth sharing…
Who was the first Jew named in recorded history known to have been named at circumcision? John the Baptist.
Who was the first Jew in recorded history to read from the Torah at a synagogue? Jesus of Nazareth.
Rabbis are not ordained, at least not ordained priests, though several will use this terminology of ordination. According to one of my colleagues, the last Jewish ordination took place in 425 AD.
There is a Jewish priesthood, the Kohanim, who do not necessarily have any leadership role in the community; Rabbis are in a way the successors of the Pharisees – learned lay leaders. (I need to find more about this, but I think there may be a parallel suggesting a descriptor of Lay Ecclesial Ministers as something like Christian Rabbis? Something to mull over…)
There is evidence of women in roles basically like Rabbis as early as the 16th and 17th century, called Rabaneet (which could also indicate the wife of a rabbi) and Tanaiit (feminine form of Tanaiim). The discussion, offered by one of the Jewish presenters, made me think of the arguments about Episcopa Theodora, (episcopa meaning bishop’s wife, or a woman with jurisdiction of a bishop) depicted in mosaic at the Basilica of Santa Praessade here in Rome.
One participant asked then, if Rabaneet was the name of a Rabbi’s wife, what do you call the name of a (female) Rabbi’s husband? From the back of the room came the answer: “Lucky!”
Cantors are taking on more and more pastoral roles, it is not just about leading music and chant in worship. Likewise, there is a phenomenon even in some orthodox communities of having a kind of recognized lay ministry outside of the rabbinate – so where rabbis are only men, women can still take a leadership role. (This one also has my gears turning…)
There are 68 different Hebrew translations of the Lord’s Prayer.
If you have not heard of the Cairo Geniza, you should at least go to Wikipedia or read Sacred Trash, which I am told is popularly accessable reading.
Learning about Ourselves while Learning about Each Other: Proposals for Jewish and Catholic Education, by Lawrence Shiffman and Joseph Sievers is something worth reviewing for anyone in catechesis, ministry formation, or dialogue.