Author Topic: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?  (Read 1575 times)

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Offline Demian

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Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« on: July 17, 2013, 05:03:24 AM »
I am seriously considering conversion to Orthodoxy and have a question about visiting other heterodox churches and synagogues. My fiance is a protestant and I don't know if she has any interest in converting to Orthodoxy, I don't plan on pushing the issue too much, besides I have a lifetime to gently lean on her about it. I was wondering if its Okay for orthodox to occasionally visit a protestant church? I don't particularly like her church but I may be called on to attend some day in the future and wanted to know if this is frowned upon?

Also, my step grandmother is Jewish and sometimes when I visit home on the holidays I attend synagogue with her. I'm not of jewish decent myself and I have never thought of converting but she is the only grandmother I have left and I like to spend time with her as I know she doesn't have much time left(she's healthy but in her late 80's)is this frowned upon in Orthodoxy?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 05:08:51 AM by Demian »

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2013, 05:28:36 AM »
You will get a range of answers on this. There were rules in the early Church which definitely forbade attending places of the "heterodox" (or whatever term you want to use). These rules were not always followed, but they did exist. These days some people (generally in more traditional groups) will say that these rules should still be followed, though they will often make allowances for things like funerals or weddings. Others (the majority of what you will find in most "western" countries) say that attending such places is permitted, but have different reasons and degrees of acceptance of it. Of these, some will say outright that there are no issues in attending such places, some will say that it's not the best possible situation but that it's permissible under most circumstances, and then some will say in tough circumstances it can be excused.

Offline Alpo

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2013, 05:42:58 AM »
Of course you can participate in your family traditions. Avoid non-Orthodox Eucharist and praying with non-Christians but otherwise go ahead.

Offline Demian

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2013, 05:45:09 AM »
Of course you can participate in your family traditions. Avoid non-Orthodox Eucharist and praying with non-Christians but otherwise go ahead.

So, its generally frowned upon to pray with non Orthodox even if they are Christian?

Offline Demian

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2013, 06:05:35 AM »
Of course you can participate in your family traditions. Avoid non-Orthodox Eucharist and praying with non-Christians but otherwise go ahead.

So, its generally frowned upon to pray with non Orthodox even if they are Christian?

Oh never mind I miss read what you wrote.

Offline Alpo

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2013, 07:41:00 AM »
Of course you can participate in your family traditions. Avoid non-Orthodox Eucharist and praying with non-Christians but otherwise go ahead.

So, its generally frowned upon to pray with non Orthodox even if they are Christian?

It depends on whom you ask but IMO it is forbidden in the canons. However generally speaking family members are an exception to the rule. I don't think I have heard of anyone who would object praying with ones closest Christian family members.

Offline Santagranddad

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2013, 09:35:00 AM »
I too was taught it was forbidden and was also advised against buying kosher on the grounds that part of the monies charged went to the Hebrew authorities. Had no problem with the former but miss my bagel and bit of banter with the supervising Rabbi at the bakers though.

Offline Ansgar

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2013, 10:08:54 AM »
What if you are entering, purely for educational reasons?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 10:26:10 AM by Ansgar »
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Offline Santagranddad

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2013, 10:15:18 AM »
As I understood the prohibition is absolute......

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2013, 10:25:56 AM »
...was also advised against buying kosher on the grounds that part of the monies charged went to the Hebrew authorities. Had no problem with the former but miss my bagel and bit of banter with the supervising Rabbi at the bakers though.

 :laugh:
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Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2013, 10:29:05 AM »
As I understood the prohibition is absolute......

The canons say "to pray", not merely entering.

Offline Ansgar

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 10:29:36 AM »
As I understood the prohibition is absolute......

In that case, I have a very serious problem.
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2013, 10:53:25 AM »
Solution for all problems Orthodox.   ;)

Will we all have to prove our Orthodoxy by adopting St Nicholas avatars now?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2013, 11:10:51 AM »
That's an awesome beard.  He's so holy, I can tell.

Re: the original questions, asking one's priest is a good idea.  That said, I don't see anything wrong with visiting the synagogue for the reasons offered...how could anyone argue with wanting to spend time with one's grandma?!  :) 

The canons refer to "praying" with heretics; how to understand and apply that is the prerogative of the bishops.  It's been discussed here before, so digging up those threads might be useful.

Originally, I wanted to lump the Protestant church along with the synagogue, but as I read it more carefully there are different issues.  You'd still be visiting for a "family" reason, but it's a potentially more enduring issue if your fiancee remains non-Orthodox and you are Orthodox.  Your Orthodox jurisdiction may allow such interdenominational marriages to take place (not all do), and so you should really check with the priest about how couples face this situation going forward, and how the Orthodox believer in particular deals with it.  Such a union presents challenges beyond which church you attend on Sundays, and it would be good to get some solid advice from your priest and perhaps from others in the parish or even here who are in such situations. 

But definitely, love your grandma and spend time with her, that's a value Christians and Jews can heartily support.         
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Offline Santagranddad

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2013, 11:12:17 AM »
Solution for all problems Orthodox.   ;)



Asking a general question on a forum like this one is fine, but when facing a personal challenge or dilemma then Trisagion's suggestion is a far more satisfactory and spiritually beneficial one.

The beard is even longer than mine.......
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 11:14:07 AM by Santagranddad »

Offline mike

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2013, 06:38:09 PM »
The huestion is why do want to go there? To please your family? To hide your conversion from them? To seek some other option in case the Orthodox Church is not THE Church?...
« Last Edit: July 17, 2013, 06:38:20 PM by Michał Kalina »

Offline LBK

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2013, 07:12:51 PM »
The huestion is why do want to go there? To please your family? To hide your conversion from them? To seek some other option in case the Orthodox Church is not THE Church?...

Stop being so argumentative, Michal. The OP made his intentions quite clear.  >:(
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Offline lovesupreme

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2013, 12:35:19 AM »
Don't be so pharasaical about it. Yes, talk to your spiritual father about it, but for God's sake (literally), honor your grandmother and don't alienate your fiancé... especially if she decides to go to your services. I suspect that this is what your spiritual father will tell you. The rules still exist, but our church leaders choose how and when to enforce them. In this day and age, it's pretty hard to avoid inter-denominational families, and I'm pretty sure most would permit attending services for the purposes of honoring family, maintaining familial bonds, etc.

There is a line that you shouldn't cross: don't accept communion from another church. Every authority agrees on that.

An anecdote: when I was an Orthodox Jew, a Roman Catholic man would sometimes attend our (very traditional) Saturday morning services. I happened to answer the door when he arrived for the first time. He wore a kippah and a talit, so I assumed he was another Jew looking to worship. I spoke with him as I guided him to the synagogue; when he revealed to me he was Catholic, I did a bit of a mental double take. I asked him, "Oh, what brings you to the services?" He said "Well, my Lord was a Jew and He worshiped this way so I figure I should see what it's all about." The man probably didn't talk to his priest about it, and his garb suggested he might have been dabbling with Judaizing, but he was always very respectful and never proselyted. In fact, he always left right after the services. I hope he's doing well! :)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2013, 12:35:54 AM by lovesupreme »

Offline Demian

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2013, 02:19:21 AM »
Thanks for the responses.

Offline William

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2013, 04:02:30 AM »
There is a line that you shouldn't cross: don't accept communion from another church. Every authority agrees on that.

Except when you play fast-and-loose with the rules even the absolutes you'd like to be upheld get cast aside. Just ask Trisagion or OOs living by EO parishes.
Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Offline Incognito777

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2013, 04:22:42 AM »
Demian,

Look to the teaching of the Church and the canons. No Orthodox Christian could go into a synagogue or heretical temple.

Offline LBK

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2013, 04:44:01 AM »
Demian,

Look to the teaching of the Church and the canons. No Orthodox Christian could go into a synagogue or heretical temple.

Are you a bishop, Incognito?
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Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2013, 09:31:56 AM »
There is a line that you shouldn't cross: don't accept communion from another church. Every authority agrees on that.

Except when you play fast-and-loose with the rules even the absolutes you'd like to be upheld get cast aside. Just ask Trisagion or OOs living by EO parishes.
Wow, that really shook you up when I said that, didn't it William?  As I said before, I have not been chrismated yet. Once I am, I will not be communing at my wife's church, and for the record, I have been abstaining from communing at her church lately anyways because I just don't feel comfortable taking part in something that I really see as having no value.
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Offline jah777

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2013, 09:40:44 AM »
Demian,

Look to the teaching of the Church and the canons. No Orthodox Christian could go into a synagogue or heretical temple.


While this is true, the poster is not yet an Orthodox Christian but is only considering converting to Orthodoxy.  During this time of inquiry, the poster should speak about such issues with the priest who is catechizing him.  From the information given, the poster's relationship to the Orthodox Church is not clear.  Where one is in one's seriousness regarding conversion to Orthodoxy, and the other circumstances in their life (fiance and family), would perhaps result in a different response out of desire ultimately for the salvation of his soul and the soul of his fiance and family. 

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2013, 10:30:32 AM »
Just ask Trisagion or OOs living by EO parishes.

Good morning, an OO living by EO parishes, how may I help you?
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Offline genesisone

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2013, 10:34:02 AM »
Demian,

Look to the teaching of the Church and the canons. No Orthodox Christian could go into a synagogue or heretical temple.
The Lincoln Memorial self-identifies as a temple - look at the inscription in the first photo. Are Orthodox Christians forbidden from entering?

My point, as is that of others, is that the issue has some complications and there really isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.

Offline converted viking

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2013, 11:01:36 AM »
Well for what it worth my wife is Roman Catholic and I was a Greek Catholic, I left Catholicism and converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church.    I still will go to her church with her from time to time but I do not recite their creed nor do I receive communion in her church.  Also we do pray together.  Hopefully I won't go to hell because of this.  ;)

Viking

Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2013, 11:53:32 AM »
Demian,

Look to the teaching of the Church and the canons. No Orthodox Christian could go into a synagogue or heretical temple.
The Lincoln Memorial self-identifies as a temple - look at the inscription in the first photo. Are Orthodox Christians forbidden from entering?

My point, as is that of others, is that the issue has some complications and there really isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.


By all means  do not attend  and firmly root against Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, a component of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's higher education system.  ;)

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2013, 11:56:20 AM »
Demian,

Look to the teaching of the Church and the canons. No Orthodox Christian could go into a synagogue or heretical temple.
The Lincoln Memorial self-identifies as a temple - look at the inscription in the first photo. Are Orthodox Christians forbidden from entering?

My point, as is that of others, is that the issue has some complications and there really isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.


By all means  do not attend  and firmly root against Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, a component of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's higher education system.  ;)
This goes without saying.  You should be rooting for Penn State, of course.
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2013, 12:04:36 PM »
This goes without saying.  You should be rooting for Penn State, of course.

The 100,000+ adherents at their Saturday services make them the mega-church to end all mega-churches.

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2013, 01:21:16 PM »
This goes without saying.  You should be rooting for Penn State, of course.

The 100,000+ adherents at their Saturday services make them the mega-church to end all mega-churches.

Bow down and worship!

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Offline Thomas

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2013, 01:41:36 PM »
Funny  :laugh: Now lets get back on Topic.

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Offline William

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Re: Is it Okay for Orthodox Christians to visit a Synagogue?
« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2013, 05:02:37 PM »
There is a line that you shouldn't cross: don't accept communion from another church. Every authority agrees on that.

Except when you play fast-and-loose with the rules even the absolutes you'd like to be upheld get cast aside. Just ask Trisagion or OOs living by EO parishes.
Wow, that really shook you up when I said that, didn't it William?  As I said before, I have not been chrismated yet. Once I am, I will not be communing at my wife's church, and for the record, I have been abstaining from communing at her church lately anyways because I just don't feel comfortable taking part in something that I really see as having no value.

Trisagion, I wasn't trying to disparage you. I disagree with it but it wasn't really my point. I was just saying that, rightly or wrongly, "every authority" does not agree on intercommunion.
Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant