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A PROCESS OF HEALING

24 March, 200924 March, 2009 0 comments Peace Peace

 

As the first orthodox Jewish organizational entity to theologically and religiously dialogue with Christians, The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding & Cooperation in Efrat, Israel has seen a rapid development of real fellowship between the two faiths. Nothing short of a divine moment is navigating the success of a center that just opened its doors in January of 2008. It was no easy task changing the status quo within our denominational movement to begin a long overdue conversation between Jews and Christians. The symbol of the cross has always been a challenge to Judaism for it conjures up images of contempt toward the Jewish people. Christianity, in the past, has been a religion that was not only unkind, but has conducted evil to my own people.

 

 

The twentieth century was witnessed to the crucifixion and resurrection of the Jewish people. The Shoah's religious antecedent was Replacement Theology, created by the Church in its divorcement with Judaism. The Holocaust marked a serious blow to two thousand years of western religious preaching and mission, asking the question of where was the defense of the human being, God's creation. The Holocaust was more than just genocide against the Jews; it was a war against God.

 

 

Three years after the Shoah, the historical resurrection of the Jewish people occurred; The State of Israel. It is a testament that the covenantal promise made to Abraham over 4,000 years ago is alive and well. It is the witness that God writes the last op-ed in religious history and demonstrates that the Lord is not finished with His people; the Jewish nation. No other explanation can be given for a people removed from its homeland for almost 2,000 years only to return from the four corners of the world, except that it is God ordained and a fulfillment of biblical prophesies.

 

 

How can a conversation begin between both faiths when the Jewish experience of Christianity is riddled with painful memories? If true dialogue is to take place between both faiths, it requires that each side wishes to know and demands respect for the other's religious convictions. How can this take place if our religious history is imbued with discontent?

 

 

There are pockets within Christianity that have embraced their Hebraic roots, no longer tout Replacement Theology and wish to have a sincere relationship with the elder brother in faith without the ulterior motive of proselytization. This positive move on the part of Christians becomes the basis where a true dialogue can take place in where both partners in the covenant can finally talk to each other instead of talking at one another. 

 

 

While Christians are positively realigning their religious perspective toward the Jewish people and Israel, we must face the reality that our own history ignored Christians as part of the people of God. Also, we, as the Jewish people, must let go of the fear in engaging with our Christian neighbor may lead to a change of our testimony and religious vocation. Dialogue does not mean compromising on the fundamentals of one's faith system. Whether we like to face it or not, Judaism and Christianity have a symbiotic relationship.

 

 

In our sorrow, we have at times developed a triumphalism of pain, denying any possibility of encounter and friendship with Christians. What is needed now is a change of heart. This does not mean ignoring past Christian transgressions, but we need to respond positively toward Christian atonement vis-à-vis Judaism. It is not an easy task, but recognition of the other in faith is the starting point, where both can acknowledge each other as part of God's design.

 

 

The recognition of the other as a subject of faith, a person of God, involves a sense of responsibility, of care for the other. There is much to learn in our respective covenantal experience of God. Our meeting with one another is a process of the heart, an evolution from confrontation toward a challenging relationship of equals. It is a starting point of spiritual healing.

 

 

We are living in unprecedented religious times. Both Judaism and Christianity are threatened to be overwhelmed by material secularism on the one hand and Jihadism on the other. While faith requires that we wait for the divine answers, we dare not leave all to God. A partnership between Jews and Christians is needed to begin a healing process in order to become God's agents to spread the message of a God of love and peace to the world. Both Judaism and Christianity have profound messages for the world and each must speak to humanity and to each other. Sober religion, famous for its love of the familiar, may well be tempted to say, ‘It's all too hard,' and to retreat into a shell. But there is the danger: Our shell may become a death knell. We must rescue God from extremism.

 

 

 

Both of our faith communities originate in G-d's election, are constituted by covenant, and anticipate redemption. We must better understand each other so that we may even more firmly support each other - and together turn a fragile and fragmented world into a united world community committed to a G-d of love and peace.

 

 

David Nekrutman

Executive Director

Ohr Torah Stone:

The Center for Jewish-Christian

Understanding & Cooperation

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