David Novak, a Conservative Jewish Rabbi and theologian, says of Edith Stein:
Jews have been able to dismiss most modern Jewish converts to Christianity as people motivated by social or professional ambition, self-hatred, ignorance, or mental imbalance. But anyone who knew Edith Stein or who knows anything about her life would have to admit that none of these categories applies to her. Indeed, Edith Stein comes across as sui generis. She might be the most uniquely problematic Jew for us since Saul of Tarsus.”
He continues, asserting the common dichotomy also shared by many Christians and which the Messianic Jewish community now challenges,
“Edith Stein represents our impasse. She cannot be a bridge between Jews and Catholics because in this world one cannot be simultaneously both a faithful Jew and a faithful Catholic. Since the Jewish and Catholic communities are mutually exclusive, and both Jews and Catholics derive their identities from God’s covenant with their communities, no member of one community can also be a member in good standing of the other.” in Snyder, From Jerusalem to Jerusalem, 86-87.
Edith Stein, religious name Teresa Benedicta a Cruce OCD, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross; 12 October 1891 – 9 August 1942), was a German Jewish philosopher who converted to Roman Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She is canonized as a martyr and saint of the Catholic Church.
She was born into an observant Jewish family, but was an atheist by her teenage years. Moved by the tragedies of World War I, in 1915 she took lessons to become a nursing assistant and worked in an infectious diseases hospital. After completing her doctoral thesis from the University of Göttingenin 1916, she obtained an assistantship at the University of Freiburg.
From reading the works of the reformer of the Carmelite Order, Teresa of Ávila, she was drawn to the Catholic faith. She was baptized on 1 January 1922 into the Roman Catholic Church. At that point, she wanted to become a Discalced Carmelite nun, but was dissuaded by her spiritual mentors. She then taught at a Catholic school of education in Speyer. As a result of the requirement of an “Aryan certificate” for civil servants promulgated by the Nazi government in April 1933 as part of its Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, she had to quit her teaching position.
She was admitted to the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Cologne the following October. She received the religious habit of the Order as a novicein April 1934, taking the religious nameTeresa Benedicta of the Cross. In 1938, she and her sister Rosa, by then also a convert and an extern sister (tertiaries of the Order, who would handle the community′s needs outside the monastery), were sent to the Carmelite monastery in Echt, Netherlands for their safety. Despite the Nazi invasion of that state in 1940, they remained undisturbed until they were arrested by the Nazis on 2 August 1942 and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they died in the gas chamber on 9 August 1942.
A recent biography:
Edith Stein: The Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Paperback –
- Paperback: 221 pages
- Publisher: Sophia Institute Press (27 July 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1622824644
- ISBN-13: 978-1622824649
From the Inside Flap
“In the wake of World War I when neither Jews nor women were widely accepted in academia, Edith Stein rose to prominence as a leading philosopher who thrived in the intellectual community in Germany. She shocked both her Jewish family and her academic friends when she fell in love with Jesus Christ and became a Roman Catholic
More shocking still, eleven years later, Edith entered the cloistered Carmelite order to follow a life of mystic and contemplative prayer, changing her name to Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Edith Stein’s surrender to grace is all the more visible because of the dark night that enveloped the period of history in which she lived and died when millions of men and women, including Edith Stein herself, were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime in the name of diligent ethnic cleansing.
Today, as the meaning of feminism is lost in a world of relativism, Edith Stein provides a model for a true feminist woman who authentically integrates faith, family, and work. Award-winning journalist Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda brings new light to this complex woman, her culture, and the pivotal period of history in which she lived and died.
More than a biography, these pages paint a multifaceted portrait of Edith Stein as seen by scholars, friends, and relatives and by Catholics and Jews alike. You’ll gain new insights into the complex aspects of her life and death, as well as the impact of her character and personality on those who knew her. But most of all, you will enter into the interior life of this woman of Jewish descent who transformed her entire life because of her encounter with Jesus Christ, an encounter that led her from the depths of atheism to the heights of sainthood.”
Richard Harvey writes:
Messianic Jews have much to learn from Stein’s life, learning, legacy and loss. See here for papers on her by Jewish believers in Yeshua:
Antoine Levy, OP
Chronology of Stein’s writings: http://www.husserlpage.com/hus_r2st.html
SAINT JAMES VICARIATE FOR HEBREW SPEAKING CATHOLICS IN ISRAEL
Sixty Years – A Pastoral Letter
Father David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar, responsible for the Saint James Vicariate for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel, has published a pastoral letter on the occasion of the 60th anniversary since the founding of the Work of Saint James. The letter was published on the Feast of Edith Stein, August 9, 2015.