For several years a group of ten to twelve people have been meeting in the Education Centre every second Friday to study the weekly Torah portion, using Jewish sources and commentaries. Within Jewish tradition the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, are read on a yearly cycle, which is similar to our Christian cycle of Sunday readings. Why do we do this? For most of us, it began with a workshop in 2003 at St. Paul's College by the late Brother Jack Driscoll, director of the Bat Kol Institute in Jerusalem, whose teaching on how to study Hebrew scripture by "excavating" the texts using Jewish sources opened up for us the richness of the Old Testament. As Bro. Jack explained: If we want to know Jesus, we need to know what he learned and how he learned. Jesus after all was born a Jew and remained a Jew.
"Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would be an incomprehensible book, a plant deprived of its roots and destined to dry up and wither." Vatican document The Jewish People #84 following Nostra Aetate
Bat Kol Institute was born out of the call of the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate to address the relationship of the Church to the Jewish people. Dr. Maureena Fritz, Sister of Sion and professor emeritus of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto, made it her mission to promote the education of Christians as to the teachings of the Church as they evolved from Nostra Aetate. Bat Kol Institute thus began its 25 year history of bringing Christians to Jerusalem for a month long course on one of the five books of the Torah. Instructors are rabbis and Hebrew University professors, and participants receive an immersion in the People, the Land and the Book such that when they return home they bring with them the vision of Bat Kol. Every member of our local group who has responded to this call to study in Jerusalem has returned vitalized to pass on what they have received.