The Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies (ICJS) is a non-profit organization that concentrates its educational expertise on the dual tasks of disarming religious hatred and establishing new models of interfaith understanding.
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A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity
The Jewish-Christian relationship has, throughout its history, been a turbulent one. Recognizing the growing degree of acceptance and tolerance on the part of Christians towards Jews, leaders of the Jewish community felt that these positive changes deserved a public and considered response. Published in 2000 as a full page spread in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, and other newspapers, Dabru Emet sought to put on public record the most current Jewish perspectives on Christianity.
Dabru Emet sought to put on public record the most current Jewish perspectives on Christianity.
On September 10, 2000, an unprecedented, full-page document appeared in The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, and other major newspapers and major religious Internet sites. Titled Dabru Emet (Speak Truth), it sought to put on public record the most current Jewish perspectives on Christianity.
An introduction to the document states, “Throughout the nearly two millennia of Jewish exile, Christians have tended to characterize Judaism as a failed religion or, at best, a religion that prepared the way for, and is completed in, Christianity. In the decades since the Holocaust, however, Christianity has changed dramatically.” It goes on to note remorse from Christians regarding mistreatment of Jews and Judaism and vigorous efforts to reform. Declaring that these efforts “merit a thoughtful Jewish response,” the authors state that “it is time for Jews to reflect on what Judaism may now say about Christianity.”
This remarkable document emerged after several years of research and one intense year of conversations and meetings hosted by the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies. In the end, four Jewish scholars— Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky, University of Chicago Divinity School; Dr. David Novak, University of Toronto; Dr. Peter W. Ochs, University of Virginia; and Dr. Michael A. Signer, University of Notre Dame— hammered out an eight-part statement headlined by these observations:
- 1. Jews and Christians worship the same God.
- 2. Jews and Christians seek authority from the same book—the Bible—(what Jews call “Tanakh” and Christians call the “Old Testament”).
- 3. Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel.
- 4. Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah.
- 5. Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon.
- 6. The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture.
- 7. A new relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice.
- 8. Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace.
Dabru Emet became a catalyst for charged conversation, from withering criticism to extravagant praise. For the most part, however, it was warmly received in both Jewish and Christian communities. Statements of gratitude were issued by major divisions of the Catholic and Protestant churches. The document was translated into many languages and was the subject of numerous editorials, commentaries, and symposia. By spring 2001, more than 225 leading Jewish scholars and theologians from around the world had signed Dabru Emet.