The first three books of a Hebrew-language Catholic catechism have been published to help teach the children of Christians who live and work in Israel.
“These books are necessary for Hebrew-speaking children, born in the country, so they may have access in Hebrew to the teaching that explains what our faith is and our practice as Catholics,” said Fr. David Neuhaus, S.J., the vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The three translated books are titled “Know the Church,” “Know Christ,” and “Know the Holidays.”
Fr. Neuhaus completed the translation project with Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land. They both work with 35 Hebrew-speaking families at a small church in the heart of Jerusalem.
“They are mainly of mixed Israeli origin, relatives of Jews, children of Jews, some converted Jews and other persons who are not Jewish but have been integrated into Jewish society,” Fr. Neuhaus told Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano on Jan. 15.
The effort also serves Arab citizens of Israel whose Palestinian ancestors did not flee during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
“So, our catechesis books, our magazine, our website, our liturgy serve this population, even when it isn't their own rite. We insist on Christian formation. Christian in a secular and Jewish environment,” the priest said.
Foreign workers in Israel must send their children to public school, where they speak and teach in Hebrew. The catechesis books are for anyone who attends Hebrew school, Fr. Neuhaus said.
He noted that the project intends to help children, adolescents, and young adults to give them “a sense of the Church and of being Christian, a sense of joy.”
The translation project required addressing questions like how to write “Trinity” and “Immaculate Conception” in Hebrew, whose culture and theology are not acquainted with the concepts.
Fr. Neuhaus said there are about 200,000 foreign workers, whose numbers include many Catholics.
All children of foreign workers and asylum seekers are in Hebrew schools, where they receive a “very good” education. However, they sometimes assimilate to Jewish culture and “do not know the Church,” he said.