Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ | Preface to "Honey From the Rock" | Roy Schoeman |
Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ | Preface to
Honey From the Rock | Roy Schoeman
Honey from the Rock. The image is a rich
one, particularly so from a Jewish-Catholic perspective. The phrase comes from
Psalm 81, in which the Jewish people are promised that if they turn to God with
their whole hearts, they will receive honey from the rock:
Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song, sound the timbrel,
the sweet lyre with the harp ....
He made it a decree in Joseph,
when he went out over the land of Egypt.
I hear a voice I had not known:
"I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
your hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah ....
O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it ....
O that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways! ..
I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."
(Ps 81:1-2, 5-7, 8b, 10, 13, 16)
The psalm reveals God's tender love for His people, the Jewish people. He
reminds them of the protective love He showed for them in rescuing them from
the land of Egypt, and then immediately reminds them of Meribah. For Meribah
was where, shortly after the Jews had fled Egypt and entered the desert, they
lost confidence in God and were convinced that they had been abandoned to die
of thirst in the desert. It was there that they challenged Moses, "Why did
you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with
thirst?" (Ex 17:3), at which point God told Moses to "take in your
hand the rod [and] strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, that the
people may drink" (Ex 17:5-6).
At Meribah God gave them water to drink, which was enough to sustain life. But
in this psalm God promises ever so much more: that when Jews turn to Him with
their whole hearts, He will give them honey--sweetness itself--rather than
water to drink.
And this was precisely the experience of the Jews whose stories fill this book.
They recount lives in which, before they found Christ, something essential--the
essential--was missing from their lives, making them
feel like the Jews of the exodus, crossing the desert, dying of thirst. Like
the Jews of the exodus, they too gave up believing that God knew them and loved
them, or, in most cases, even existed. They were figuratively, and in several
cases literally, dying from their desperate "thirst" to know the real
meaning in life--to know God, to love Him, to serve Him. And then, when through
an unmerited gift of grace, God Himself our God, our Lord, our Savior, our
Messiah, our born-Jewish Jesus--revealed Himself to them, He not only gave them
water to drink, to sustain them
in their crossing of this desert of exile on earth on the way to the Promised
Land, Heaven, He did ever so much more than that. In the overflowing richness
of the intimacy with Him that He made available through the sacraments of the
Catholic Church, it was not just water, but honey, a river of
pure sweetness, that He gave them to drink, truly honey from the rock.
It is no coincidence that the phrase immediately preceding "honey from the
rock" is one that, in a currently popular Communion hymn, is used to refer
to the Blessed Sacrament--"the gift of finest wheat".  For it is
precisely the "gift of finest wheat", the most Holy Eucharist, which is
ultimate honey from the rock: pure distilled consolation, distilled joy,
distilled love, the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity of our Messiah Himself.
Before becoming Catholic, it was as though trying to know God was like trying to suck water from a rock, maybe
at times getting enough to moisten one's lips; but after becoming Catholic,
once participating in the sacramental life of the Church, those few sparse
drops became a geyser, a gusher, a tidal wave of grace sweeping one away in a
flood of consolation, of intimacy with God Himself. Honey from the rock
indeed--a raging river of honey, flooding one away into a sea of divine
Some of the "converts"  in this book came from secularized,
liberal, or even atheistic Jewish backgrounds, while others came from Orthodoxy
 or even Hasidism. Some were unschooled in Judaism, while others were among
the most highly trained Jews of their day. Some were rich and wildly successful,
others down and out. But one thing they all had in common was a profound (dare
I say, Jewish?) longing for God that gave them no peace until they found God
Himself, peace Himself in the Catholic Church. They were all dying of thirst in
the desert--some actually at the point of suicide in their frustrated despair
at failing to find God. And it was at that point they found so much more than
they had suspected even existed. Longing for a sip of water in the parched
desert, they found a river of honey, honey from the rock.
But I will let them tell their own stories.  They are all unique. Alphonse
Ratisbonne, a wealthy aristocratic Jewish French banker, was converted on the
eve of his marriage by an unexpected, unsought, and most unwelcome (before the
fact; most welcome after the fact!) apparition of the Blessed Mother herself
and proceeded to call off his wedding to become a priest in the Holy Land.
Hermann Cohen, one of the foremost musicians of his day, lived a wild life of fame
and sensual indulgence until he was converted by an overpowering experience of
the Blessed Sacrament. Rabbi Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, had an experience
of Jesus while he was celebrating the Yom Kippur liturgy in the synagogue
there, and he knew on the spot that was his last time officiating as Rabbi.
Charlie Rich, a profoundly devout Hasidic Jew from Hungary, lost his faith on
the streets of New York City and was converted by an extraordinary experience
in front of a stained glass window of Jesus in an otherwise empty church. And
on and on and on--sixteen such stories, as different as the individuals
involved, but at the same time with haunting similarities.
In today's world of soft drinks, sugar, and ice cream, we may not appreciate
honey the same way as did the Jews of three thousand years ago, who knew
nothing else as sweet. Perhaps those born Catholic, in a somewhat analogous
way, have a harder time fully appreciating the unique gift of the Catholic
Church than do those who, like the Jews in this book, went through much of
their lives wishing and hoping, but not really believing, that they could have
intimacy with God. May the deep appreciation of the Jews in this book for the
"honey from the rock" they eventually found sharpen the taste buds of
those who always have lived with the taste of it, so to speak, in their mouths;
and may it inspire those still wandering in the desert to strike the rock, receive
the rivers of milk and honey waiting for them, and "taste and see the
sweetness of the Lord" (Ps 34:8). 
 It is, of course, only wheat prior to the Consecration, after which
"there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the
substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine
into the substance of his blood." Council of Trent (ii), Denzinger 1642.
 "Converts" is, of course, the usual term, but most of those in
this book consider(ed) themselves "fulfilled Jews" rather than
converts, since they did not "turn away" from Judaism, but rather
they entered Judaism's completed or fulfilled form, the Catholic Church, i.e.
 Judaism in the United States is divided into three principle groups: Orthodox
Jews, the most observant of traditional Jewish practices and laws; Conservative
Jews, who are somewhat less so; and Reform Jews, the least traditionally
observant of the three groups. In addition there are the Hasidim, the
"ultra-Orthodox", who are by far the strictest in their practices and
usually live in separate communities.
 All of the accounts in this book are based on the converts' own words, except
that of Sister Katzmann, which is an account written by her religious community.
 This wording is Charlie Rich's translation. Having grown up as a Hasidic Jew,
he read the Psalms in the original Hebrew.--ED.
Honey from the Rock: Sixteen
Jews Find the Sweetness of Christ
Compiled by Roy Schoeman
Roy Schoeman, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, and best-selling author of Salvation Is From The Jews, once again
shows the clear links between Judaism and Catholicism in these inspiring stories of sixteen Jews who became "fulfilled Jews",
as Schoeman says, through their spiritual journeys to the Catholic Church.
The sixteen people whose stories are told here are a variety of Jews, including some who came from secularized, liberal or
even atheistic backgrounds, while others came from Orthodox Judaism. Some were well trained Jews, others unschooled
in Judaism; some rich and wildly successful, others down and out. But their common link was they all had a profound
longing for God that gave them no peace until they found God Himself in the Catholic Church.
Some of these converts are famous people like Edith Stein, Alphonse Ratisbonne, Karl Stern, and Rabbi Zolli, while others
are less well known, but all have powerful stories of life-changing spiritual transformations.
"Roy Schoeman's work, Honey from the Rock illuminates the essential link between the Jewish faith and
Catholicism through the lives of those who were born into the Jewish faith and have come to know the fulfillment
of their faith in Christ and His Catholic Church. I recommend Honey from the Rock to anyone who desires to
understand the revealed faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and
His Mystical Body, the Church. Honey from the Rock illustrates in a most concrete way the truth expounded so
well by Roy Schoeman in his earlier work, Salvation is from the Jews, which I also wholeheartedly recommend." --
Raymond L. Burke, Archbishop of Saint Louis
"This is a gripping book sketching powerfully the Jewish metaphysical restlessness that nothing can satisfy until they
taste Honey from the Divine Rock and recognize in Christ the King of the Jews and the Roman Catholic church as fulfillment
of Judaism. This book is a constellation made up of sixteen sons and daughters of Israel for whom overwhelming talents,
wordly success, money, pleasure brought nothing but despair. Each one of them had its own path; but what is striking is
the role played by the Holy Virgin and the holy hunger for the Eucharist in some of the most amazing conversions. This
book will bring joy to its readers and rekindle their hope in the power of God's grace at a time when the ship of Holy
Church is battered by the waves of secularism, relativism, infidelity and betrayal." -- Alice von Hildebrand
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Links/Articles:
Judaism Fulfilled | An Interview with Roy H. Schoeman
The Jews and the Second Coming | Roy H. Schoeman
Eugenio Zolli's Path to Rome | Stephen Sparrow
Roy H. Schoeman, was born in a suburb of New York City
of Conservative" Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany.
His Jewish education and formation was received under some of the most prominent
Rabbis in contemporary American Jewry, including Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg,
probably the foremost Conservative Rabbi in the U.S. and his hometown Rabbi
growing up; Rabbi Arthur Green, later the head of the Reconstructionist
Rabbinical College who was his religion teacher and mentor during high school
and early college; and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, a prominent Hasidic
Rabbi with whom he lived in Israel for several months.
His secular education included a B.Sc. from M.I.T. and an M.B.A. magna cum
laude from Harvard Business School. Midway through a career of teaching
and consulting (he had been appointed to the faculty of the Harvard Business
School) he experienced an unexpected and instantaneous conversion to Christianity
which led to a dramatic refocus of his activities. Since then he has
pursued theological studies at several seminaries, written the acclaimed book
Salvation Is From the Jews, helped produce
and host a Catholic Television talk show, and edited and written for several
Catholic books and reviews. His website is www.SalvationIsFromTheJews.com.
If you'd like to receive the FREE IgnatiusInsight.com
e-letter (about every 1 to 2 weeks), which includes regular updates
about IgnatiusInsight.com articles, reviews, excerpts, and author appearances,
please click here to sign-up today!