Late Metropolitan Emilianos (Timiadis) Last Letter to Av Aleksandr
Some days before passing away, late Metropolitan Emilianos (Timiadis) of Silyvria sent me a letter he could dicatate in French ot a sister of the Monasterio di Bose (Italy), the Ecumenical community where he used to sojourn. He had been for years the representative of th Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the World Council of the Churches in Geneva.
On the wake of 5772, I think it makes sense to publish it. I am a full Jew, both sides. My mother and my father ‘of blessed memory) would be 111 years old this year. They spent their life facing the worse sort of anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism. Cleaning the trottoirs of Berlin with tooth brushes, spoliated in the Ukraine, in Germany and in France, blackmailed.
I accounted how my mother decided to send me to learn perfect German to both Germany, Austria (Bischofshofen) when I was a child. She had been strongly attacked by the Jewish community, but had answered that her son had the task to pave the way to forgiveness between Jews and Germans. She also meant it for the Ukrainians and this is why I serve in Ukrainian and am the “spiritual priest” of the Ukrainian in the Holy Land, an assosication that, amazingly has been created by a Jew who perfectly known Christianity but always refused to convert! He was teaching Arabic in Moscow and is a professor of Ukrainian and Slavic culture at the present at the University of Jerusalem.
In the course of my 42 years of presence in Christianity, I discovered that, as Rashi stated “the Gentiles of the presentday are no more pagan”. I must confess that is maybe quite a challenge to believe such a thing.
I have always been very quiet with regards to connectedness with anybody. I love human and humane nature, mind, brains, shape, look. I love life and enjoy it because I could die for sure two or three times.
I ddi not meet many Jews in the Church. Numerous secular Jews think they can be Jewish or show some Jewish backgrounds because they discover Judaism from within Christianity. Others will never get to learning Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish and might reach some phrases or expressions. It does not replace the profound imprint that God gives to a person who is born inside of real and religious Jewishness.
Many Christians are impressed when they meet with “converted Jews”. There is a kind of “foolish” respect toward the individual who “is of the same race as the Lord Jesus of Nazareth”. Either this is on the verge of a joke or it is simply “stupid”. D.N.A. is not concerned and a Jew who is so secular that he does not feel the difference that exists between Israel and the Gentiles is just “arrogant”. Not toward any community, but toward the Divine Presence.
I most rarely met any Jewish person “of fulillment”, “accomplishment”. On the other hand, being a Yiddishist by background, I was kicked out by the specialists 40 years ago. The great blessing is that, at the present, they do accept my situation and usually understand the price it costs to be a “Jew in the Church, moreover in such a place as the Church of Jerusalem”.
When I went to the Church 42 years ago, the Yiddish experts who in-depth had experienced the heart of Christendom, told me about the Christians: “Careful, they (the Christians) will kill you or at least they will make you fall and nervously break you!”. Life experience has been definitely prodigious in terms of encounters, development. When a turn makes sense, an individual is never alone. He usually has “doubles”, a “mirroring gilgul/גילגול צ , the mirror of a living/dead person that witness to the veracity of specific actions. I had the chance to be close to two recognized clergymen who had chosen or responded to a parallel and very similar path.
Treason usually comes from “converted Jews” because they hardly can find a “community” or create it and measure themselves, comparing their paths with what they value of the destiny of the others. Non-Jewish Christians can also be jealous and, indeed, it is easy to spread some sort of “feud” or disregard among “the natives of the Church” (Jews).
It may happen that Jews split in the Church as a consequence of some inexplicable spiritual distance that I would call “Satanic or devilish” so far it obstructs or fences Divine call. I saw two bishops of Jewish backgrounds who just hated each other.
There are also “invariants” or “constant issues or concerns”. I had published an article in 1987 on Hebrew Christians in the History of the Church in French. It had only been accepted because it discussed the presence of Hebrew Christians in the Anglican Church of England in the 19th century.Data are to be found in the best book on the subject “J. Jocz’s “Jesus Christ and the Jewish People”.
Usually, Jews in the Church think they are the “natives” of the Body. This was somehow the case in the Early Church. First Bishop James of Jerusalem could take the decision that is much Jewish to ask the Gentiles to comply with the Noahide Commandments. These commandments are stil in force, both for the Jews – rather invigorated and in use – and for the Church that opines she got astray from the world of the Mitzvot (613 Commandments).
Considering the hideous attitude of the Ukrainians toward my family, I also decided to show this spirit of forgiveness by being an Oriental priest. Redemption does not belong to anyone. it only depends on God. At least, in the Church, I do not have any pre-conceived idea about people. When I arrived to Jerusalem for my ministry, a Jewish “Christeend” family came to ask to baptize a new born child. They were leaving for Canada. They said they wanted at least to baptize the child in the Holy Mother City of the Church and Judaism. They had not reached a point of balance, equilibrium for themselves and preferred to settle in Vancouver. The grand-mother looked at me and said that I had chosen the most difficult part of a ministry. To be none except the grace of God.
The Israeli can be very rude. They simply are uneducated. They do not know Christianity and at the same time they want to understand the Christian backgorund of the Holy Land. It is a matter of fact that whatever politic, cultural efforts, Judaism and Jewishness will never remove or cancel the presence of Jesus of Nazareth in the region.
For the moment, Jews need to be respected. They ought to respect the others too. It may happen that a lady who would make pictures of Christian sites will tell me without any shame and directly that I am “an apostate, a f…cked bastard of a worm”… in educated Hebrew. Israeli women can be very rough and basic instinct. Men would clash… and slowly approach. The problem is that Israel, as a Jewish entity, is at pains; everything aches and it will take a long time before things will settle.
More than anything, God is above all. It seems a bit weird? Clerics are often “professional” like “die Kleriker” that administratively think of Liturgies, Sacraments.
I make a sacrifice of my life. Not only I do, but mines. My wife and my children are a part of it. I married a nno-Jewish woman in a special context of faith (cf. Googlesite “Hebrew in the Church”). We “substantiate “the one body above destruction of the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles” (Ephesians 2: 14-16). We could educate our children and they have to face a special spiritual and cultural context. It maybe a cause of sufffering or unease; we always tried to provide openness. Life provides the adequate individuals and groups that can add to what the parents sowed. Seeds of life take time to get mature. Societies are much intermingled and have always been swinging between inclusion and exclusion.
When my son came to volunteer in Israel, it was not clear whether he was a Jew according to the Halachah. This is not the point. The poiint is that he joined the minyan for the Shabbat. The head of the group called an eleventh (11th) male to join the minyan. As the others were surprised, he loudly and plainly said that my son was not a Jew (but still!!!). For many, it would be arrogant. I know many boys who would simply leave. My son had been educated in such a way as to face such stuations. He had enough insights to understand that he was not rejected, but accepted for who Jews could accept him at that stage. Curiously, it was far more pedagogic than if it were considered as a part of the Jewish group to the full.
I know many “self-proclaimed” Jews (Messianic and all that stuff) that would never accept to face their own reality, even if it hurts or strongly questions. it makes things true.
We have no right to impose things. A Jew in the Church does not exist. On the other hand, his service is like a link on a chain that both show freedom and historic constraints.
When my son met with a priest who asked him what he had experienced in Israel, he told him this “anecdote”. He explained to the priest that it had allowed him to really face the true realixty of Judaism and Israel. The Orthodox priest looked unconcerned. You can make wonderful pilgrimages to Israel and the “Holy Land” and only visit Russian, Greek, Christian or whatever place, in partiicular stones without having the joy and courage to meet with humans.
In this sense, faith is prophetic. This is why it is absurd to “convert” the Jews. I often meet with Eastern European “Bishops or head of some local Church”, usually the Russian are pretty much incited to ask “why in the world was I told at the airport not to convert the Jews?” The question is quite relevant for the Messianic, the Evangelicals and all kinds of para-Catholic and Orthodox or Protestant groups: they do exercise missionary work among the Jews. It is a part of what they think to be their “apostolic” task.
In the meanwhile, each Church has been expecting the arrival of some “Christians” from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. I have been dedicating a large part of my ministry to them, though mainly focusing on a coherent Israeli acculturation of the Church of Jerusalem. Most of the “so-called’ Orthodox Christians have always brought some evidences of their links to the Jewish State in order to apply for their aliyah (immigration). Most of them are not Jewish by education or Eastern Orthodox by some mass post-Sovietic Baptism. They are Soviets hidden in shapes of new Russians and Displaced Peoples. Just the same way so many nations wander throughout the world (Chinese, Tamouls, Iraqis, Assyrians and Chaldeans, Lebanese, Africans and/or Ethiopians). They err from priests to priests, jrudisdictions to jurisdictions.
The present Patriarch of Jerusalem told them, in my presence, that they are not “Orthodox”. I considered the remark as a bit rude, too much for people whose life-paths were so unexpected. None of them could ever think of settling and bringing up their children in Hebrew, in Israel of the Jews. Intriguingly, Patriarch Theophilos came to greet former Latin Catholic Archbishop Sabbah who strongly told him that the people he denied as “Orthodox” duly were “Orthodox” and that he, as Orthodox Patriarch of Jeruslaem – had to assist them spiritually.
Ethnic attitude in faith does not help. It destroys, even when we cannot fathom such a process. Many “ex-Soviet” Orthodox believers think they can call to other Orthodox jurisdictions, either Russian or of any other ethnicity or background. This is not possible; Definitely not possible at all. The Church of Jerusalem has been Greek and Hellenistic over the past 2000 years. Israel will never accept them to share with other Church that showed terribly anti-Judaic throughout history and in all of the Jewish dispersion.
The Jewish State needs tourists and pilgrims. It is a national sport in terms of archaeology, historicity of faith and religions; the Eretz Israel is at the cross-roads to all beliefs and layers of religious presence. Even the Dalai Lama comes to visit the Holy Sepulcher!
But the local “believers” who hide who they are, take one, two or more money baskets from the Jewish State and then claim they are “normally anti-Semitic”, those who slander against each other and creep away not to say who they are are also a part of the development of the country. They also witness to the stand of the Church.
If Jesus of Nazareth wanted to gather in all humankind and did it according to the Christian faith via his Cross and resurrection, it means that the Church is both the House of the Jews and the Gentiles, assembled together for the sake of redemption and true love.
It is rather difficult to ascertain in a context where each denomination and sub-jurisdiction endeavours to keep and strengthen their rights in the name of the Most High!!!!
As late Fr. Kurt hruby stated, we have to be serious in our connection to the Mystery of Unity. Some people would tend to say that even if we are split, the more we are does not affect unity if we are able to get together! No, unity means that there are things we do not controml; these things only depends on our steadfastness and clear determination to love, pardon and still unite despite external circumstances or whereabouts.
While attending a meeting in Hungary, my son met with a rabbi whose family had been involved in inter-faith for decades. I knew some of his family and a parent rabbi. The rabbi listened to him as his explained my position in Jerusalem. He said to my son that his father certainly knows how totally alone/isolated Jesus has been at Gethsemani.
It is the paradox of faith. To be isolated for the sake of overall and universal unity of all humans. The man was right.
This “in-depth solitude” does not kill; it is reinvigorates.
Jewish New Year has the most beautiful prayer addressed by the Jewish soul to the Holy Blessed He be: “Lord, extend your Presence upon all the wolrd that You have created so that each human being into whose nostrils You have poured a spirit and brain of life may know that You are the Only God, the Supreme One on the Earth here and above there in Heaven and You reign for ever”.
Many – quite a lot – of Israelis and Jews would not wish or greet non-Jews with “Shanah Tovah” because they think it is a strictly “Jewish” and internal if not “ethnic” matter. It is just the opposite: Jewish New Year is rooted in the profound Sumerian civilization that imlies redemption and hope for life, conversion, good income and development for all soul. It expands the blessings from Zion and Jerusalem till the ends of the universe, i.e. not only our planet, but all the galaxies, the whole of the Universe that is widely unexplored at this stage. It is important because if anyone is kept aside from the this New Year, Jewishness is reduced to a small portion. Its call is to gather all the humans and take good care of the “strangers” that abide in their midst!
May it be for all the blessing for all times, in all places.
Av aleksandr (Winogradsky Frenkel)
Translation of Metropolitan Emilianos’ hand-written letter:
Very Reverend and dear Father Alexander,
I ddi receive so many warm and hearfelt messages from you conveyed by our dear Sister (N.) and I feel so humiliated because of my absence and lack of responding as required by “protocole of good life”. Thousand apologies for such a neglecting attitude.
Your ministry is pioneering and is much appreciated on all sides. Who else could take up such a task if he had no firm basis, having not even a minimum of structure. I imagine that all your noble projects viewing to organizing the ecclesiastical structure for you heteroclite and so diversified flock is definitely not subject to any objection, but only “generous promises”. It is a matter of suffering.
But you must go on and insist because in the end, your voice will be heard by the Lord the Most High. and a solution shall be given to you. Because God will sustain you: you made a full sacrifice in order to serve among His faithful. I do think that some day this ancient Church of Jerusalem shall get to some normaization. (…).
All my hommage to you and your presvytera, I do pray to the Saviour,
+ Metropolitan Emilianos