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Vicar ministers to Haifas Hebrew-speaking Catholics

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Published on May 14, 2009

The city of Haifa in northern Israel is where Fr. David Neuhaus comes every week to meet his parishioners in this inconspicuous private home. There are several dozen Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Haifa and approximately 400 in the country. More than half are Jews who converted and they congregate in the utmost discretion.For some it is a secret, it is true, but not for everyone. And I dont think that the secret is the dominating element. The most important element is to create community together. Many of our faithful decided to become Christians at an adult age and for this reason it is very important for them to come to a place where there is much more than a simple liturgy, but also a community life.It is a special environment for community life with a family spirit. To convert to Christianity when you are of Jewish origin is still misunderstood in Israel.I come from a Jewish education, went to a Jewish school. I received a purely Jewish education and learned the Bible at school. Already at that time, it was not easy to feel different. When I was about ten years old I remember going to midnight mass and having told my friends that the Messiah exists, that he is Jesus. I was thrashed, so at the time it was not easy.The greatest gift that I received was a neighbour who said that I belonged to them. They know I love them. This is what Jesus did. Here we do not need to be missionaries, but to live like he did.I think that it is very important to underline our message of love for everyone, because perhaps this country needs a bit of love -- the love that opens us to others.With the Popes visit, these Catholics hope to be accepted in a better way. Le Jour du Seigneur

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