• For Susan Jacobs, director of education at Temple Beth El, it was finally being with Christians who werent always praying shed convert so she could go to heaven. Growing up in Charlotte, shed find Are you saved? brochures from some of her Christian friends stuffed into her locker at East Mecklenburg High School.
She worried members of Myers Park Baptist would show similar concern. Instead, she found them so welcoming and respectful of her Judaism that she became open, maybe for the first time, to hearing the Christian perspective.
• Brenda Romanoff, a UNC Charlotte professor, also felt accepted by her fellow travelers Jews and Baptists as she celebrated her Catholicism. In Jerusalems Church of the Holy Sepulchre, emotion overwhelmed her when she placed her hands and her brown wooden Rosary on the slab of rock where the body of Jesus may have been laid after his crucifixion.
Married to a Jewish man for 34 years and the mother of two daughters who chose Judaism, Brenda often felt alone when she went with them to temple. But in Israel, she was able to learn up-close about the Jewish peoples history of trials and tribulations and to appreciate, as many Christians never do, that Jesus was a Jew.
• At Masada, the ancient mountaintop fortress where 900 Jewish rebels chose mass suicide over surrendering to the Romans Cyndee Patterson heard words that told her she was doing the right thing.
It was during the groups Shabbat service and her thoughts were on her journey to becoming a Jew. President of the Lee Institute and Duke Mansion and granddaughter of a Lutheran minister, Cyndee felt like somebody had written the passage just for her: Once or twice in a lifetime, a man or woman may choose a radical leaving, having heard Lech lcha Go forth.
• At Sanctuary of the Shepherds, a church in Bethlehem, Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown began to cry when she gazed up at a large painting that showed a flock of baby angels guarding over Mary, Joseph and their newborn son. She took it as a message from God about her great-nephew, Michael Regan Jr., or M.J., who died of cancer almost a year ago at 16 months.
Ophelia asked her nephew, Oliver Thomas, the babys uncle, to take a picture of the painting. And, despite the tears, she felt a peace come over her: God has showed us, she said, that M.J.s work is not yet done, that he is indeed one of Gods baby angels.
• Like bookends, Ellen Martins moments came at the start and at the end of the trip. After landing at the airport in Tel Aviv, she noticed something she wasnt used to seeing in the South. Everybody looked like her Jewish! She felt connected, fearless.
By the last day, in Bethlehem, Ellen, who does private college counseling, was still feeling so comfortable that she decided to engage some Palestinians. She chatted away with the groups tour guide for the day. Then she posed for a picture with a police officer. My wish is for peace, she told him. His reply, which finally ended her high, was: I dont think thats going to happen.
• Brooke Cornwell, a 38-year member of Myers Park Baptist, did something Baptists dont usually do: She knelt in a Catholic church, this one built on the same tranquil hillside on which Jesus is believed to have given the Sermon on the Mount.
Over the last year, Brooke and 150 other Christian women in Charlotte Women of the Word, they call themselves had studied the sermons eight beatitudes. The one that spoke to Brooke the most is a call to abandon pride and depend on God: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world.
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