Edith Stein: A Saint or A Remarkable Woman

Essay by peachyollieUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, March 2007

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In this essay I was answering the question "Who is Edith Stein?" A comment my teacher made about my essay is "Did Edith Stein bridge the gap between Judaism and Catholicism". Agreed with my essay. BUT the emphasis, historically, on the differences has been obscured, the commonalities, connections which she embraced this is debatable depending on which side you are on.

Who is Edith Stein? Her biographical background indicates she was a daughter, an aunt, a Carmelite Nun, a philosopher and she was a Jew. Here is a woman who was seeing her purpose in life. In searching for answers, she did not find it in Judaism, but found her purpose in life by becoming a Carmelite Nun. She had read the spiritual biography of St. Theresa of Avila in one evening, and Stein saw in her, an example of spiritual achievement as a catalyst to her decision to covert.

This decision has caused controversy between Judaism and Catholicism for various reasons. So, what does it mean to be a Jew?According to Rabbi Dove Marmer, Senior Rabbi Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto, “You are a Jew in two ways: One, you are a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, second, you are a Jew as a disciple of Moses. Also, you are a Jew by descent, by conviction, by discipleship and by choice.” When Rabbi Marmer talks about Stein’s conversion he explains “Conversion is difficult in Judaism because Judaism is also a religion of the people and when a Jew leaves, by definition that person tends to leave the Jewish people. The result being that this person will not have Jewish children, which in the Jewish word is a source of pain. Why? There are few Jews in the world and Judaism can only survive if there are Jews.” (Case...