PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Episcopal church on Shady Avenue is hard to confuse with Tree of Life, its Jewish neighbor.
But Calvary Episcopal Church made an unusual offer last October.
“We offered to them any space we may have,” the Rev. Jonathon Jensen told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Friday.
“We are very good at sharing space here, so if you need worship space, meeting, office, it’s yours.”
Jensen says Tree of Life accepted Calvary’s offer to host the Jewish High Holy Day services, Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, which begin at sundown this Sunday.
“They are our neighbors, literally a mile away on Shady Avenue,” says Jensen.
“They are our neighbors as Pittsburghers, as well as that’s what we are called to do, to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.”
But transforming a Christian church into a synagogue is not that simple, requiring great logistical planning.
“Rabbi Myers and I have been in contact many times,” Jensen says.
“He’s been here to practice the music, to see the space, to make sure everything is set up as they wanted.”
The Ark with the Torah is already at Calvary.
The Ark which has the scrolls of the Torah will be rolled up a ramp into the center of the sanctuary.
The Christian altar will disappear, and in front of it will be the bima, or prayer desk for the synagogue, where the scrolls are rolled out and read.
The prayer shawls are being assembled, along with special artwork given to Tree of Life from around the world that will be displayed during the High Holy Day at Calvary.
And Calvary parishioners will be involved, says Jensen.
“We have 30 volunteers from Calvary Church who are going to be paired with volunteers from Tree of Life, and they will serve as ushers.”
The church holds 1,000 — more than enough for the 800 expected to attend.
Only those with tickets can attend the Jewish services.