Minutes of Meeting
December 12, 1993
Beth Abraham Synagogue
Chanukah-Christmas Party1; Joint meeting with Assembly of Zionist Christians and Jews
Speaker: Mike DiCuirci, Professor at Cedarville College
PRESENT: Dieter and Suzie Walk, Cochairs; Brian Arment, Margaret Arment, Arthur Auster, Judith Auster, Fred Behrens, Judy Behrens, Charlotte Braverman, Elizabeth Burks, Glenn Duckwall, Phyllis Duckwall, Paul Dosey, Mike DiCuirci , JoAnn DiCuirci, Dick Ellis, Shirley Ellis, Shirley Flacks, Eric Friedland, Norma Harner, Debra Hollister, Edith Holsinger, Donna Key, Sophie Kahn, Steve Kahn, Doris Kline, Eleanor Koenigsberg, Harry Koenigsberg, Ed Meadows, Ruth Meadows, Judith Moore, Eileen Moorman, Ruth Precker, Harold Rosenberg, Shirley Rosenberg, Harold Rubenstein, Sophie Rubenstein, Bill Rain, Mary Ellen Rain, Bonnie Rosenzweig, Kenneth Rosenzweig, Louis Ryterband, Harold Silverman, Robin Smith, Marianne Weisman, Murray Weisman, Adam Zengel, Bootie Zengel, Victor Zwelling.
The evening began at about 6 PM with the lighting of the Chanukah candles and the singing of Chanukah songs. This was followed by a delicious meal which included latkes, eggnog and various other holiday treats. There was much socializing and celebrating.
The formal meeting was called to order at about 7:30 PM by Dieter Walk who introduced the speaker, Mike DiCuirci. Mike is a professor at Cedarville College and a Pastor and Music Minister at his church, Clear Creek Chapel. He has been involved with Cedarville College's recent efforts to build bridges to the Jewish community.
Mike delivered a light-hearted as well as serious presentation in which he revealed honestly some of his deepest feelings about the importance of religion in general and the importance to him of his Christian faith. He began by telling about his Italian-Irish heritage and his experience growing up in the New York metropolitan area where many of his neighbors and friends were Jewish. He emphasized his commitment to God and his belief that the human body is the "temple of God." He talked about the respective miracles of Chanukah and Christmas and decried the materialism that unfortunately surrounds the celebration of Christmas. His main theme was the "miracle of a changed life." He explained that his earlier sinful life was transformed by "being saved." Mike felt compelled to exuberantly witness to this transformation.
Mike's formal presentation ended at 8:10 PM and a discussion period began. Ken asked Mike to elaborate on the dialogue which he understood is emerging between Cedarville College and the Jewish Community. Mike replied that the president of Cedarville College is very interested in opening a dialogue with the Jewish Community. Edith asked about the date of Jesus' birth. Mike explained that December 25 is probably not the date of Jesus' birth and the date for the holiday was likely chosen by church leaders to coincide with the winter solstice. Eleanor referred the group to a recent television program which showed celebrations of Chanukah around the world.
Eric asked Mike whether there might have been a hint of evangelizing in Mike's presentation and further how he would like to relate to the Jewish Community. Mike replied that he had no hidden agendas (i.e., conversion of Jews to Christianity) and that, although he has not had much experience relating to Jews on a religious level, he is learning to be sensitive to the feelings of Jews which is necessary for a respectful dialogue. Eileen followed up by asking whether evangelization was the same as proselytizing. Lou pointed out that Jews have "long antennae" as a result of past conversionary efforts, especially by fundamentalist Christians.
Victor commented that Orthodox Jews would have been more understanding of Mike's intensely religious message than the generally religiously liberal Jews in attendance. Expressions of deep faith and witnessing are not characteristic of Jews in general and particularly liberal Jews. Mike replied that many religiously liberal Christians would also not have been sympathetic to his message.
Ken asked about the nature of the education that Cedarville College students get about Jews and Judaism in light of the fact that all Cedarville College students must be Christians. Mike replied that education about Jews is fairly minimal at present but he hoped to remedy this in the process of fostering the dialogue with the Jewish Community. Harold asked about the reaction of students to the play, Fiddler on the Roof, which was put on at Cedarville College by Cedarville College students. Mike said the students loved the play and Sophie said she attended and loved it also.
The meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM.