New York, NY, August 4, 2009 … Amid rising concerns over global anti-Semitism and elevated tensions in the Christian-Jewish relationship, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed a major new document calling for an international recommitment to improving Jewish-Christian dialogue and relations.
The International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), an international umbrella organization of Jewish-Christian dialogue groups, issued "A Time for Recommitment: Building the New Relationship between Jews and Christians." The 22-page document, adopted in Berlin, declares that an atmosphere of safety, trust and respect for the religious integrity and distinctiveness of the other is an absolute requirement for conducting authentic interfaith dialogue. It states that "interreligious dialogue in the fullest sense of the term is impossible if any of the parties harbor desires to convert the other."
"The new ICCJ statement shows what can be achieved with sustained and open dialogue between Christians and Jews, free of any ulterior motives," said Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, ADL Director of Interfaith Policy. "While there may be disagreements about portions of the document, it does not shy away from discussing highly sensitive topics. We applaud the statement and hope it will be used as a model to help promote study and interfaith understanding."
After reviewing the history of Christian-Jewish relations and the progress and stress of the past six decades, the document sensitively addresses a number of controversial issues, including the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Jerusalem. It recognizes the Jewish connection to the land, that Israel remains a priority for the Jewish people, and that criticism of Israel must be responsible and cannot cross into anti-Semitism.
The ICCJ statement commemorates and updates the historic "Ten Points of Seelisberg," a statement written by Christian leaders in 1947 in reaction to the Holocaust. They sought to reverse the long-standing Christian "teaching of contempt" for Jews and Judaism. The "Ten Points" helped spark a new era of dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and also gave rise to the ICCJ.
Sixty-two years later, the new document - written by Christians and Jews from 11 countries - addresses Christians, Jews and members of other religious traditions.
"A Time for Recommitment: Building the New Relationship between Jews and Christians" is available on the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations' Web site.