Dialogika

Jewish Documents & Statements

A Proposed Declaration: “The Synagogue and the Christian People”

[From Samuel Sandmel, We Jews and You Christians: An Inquiry into Attitudes (Philadelphia/New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1967), 144-146.]

The Synagogue views the Christian people as among its offspring. It acknowledges that Christian people have laudably spread the message of the Synagogue among people and in areas of the world beyond where the Synagogue had penetrated. The Christian people have adapted that message to their own character and their own ways of thinking and speaking, and they have both preserved much which is familiar to the Synagogue and also created much which is not. Man, in his weakness, has been incapable of maintaining unbroken unity. Neither the Synagogue nor the church has been free from division, and a by-product of such division has been irreligious hatred, bitter recrimination, and persecution, both within and without. Since hatred, recrimination, and persecution are irreligious, the Synagogue laments all such manifestations within its past, and respecting the present and the future repudiates them as inauthentic manifestations of the spirit of Judaism. The Synagogue holds that it’s message must spread not by power or by might, but only by the Spirit of God and in the love of mankind.

The Synagogue is aware that Christian assemblies, lamenting and disavowing the Christian persecution of the Jews, have spoken in recent times in the same voice. The Synagogue welcomes these pioneer utterances.

All men are wont to remember grievances out of which attitudes of the vindictiveness arise; therefore the Synagogue reminds it's loyal sons of the biblical injunction (Leviticus 19:18): “Thou shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Synagogue cannot, and does not, hold innocent Christians of our day responsible for the persecutions of the past, nor all Christians responsible, in the present or the future, for the misdeeds which may come from some.

The Synagogue continues to look forward to that day when all men, of all countries, colors, and beliefs, will become spiritually united. Since all universals are attained only through particular, the Synagogue is committed to the perpetuation of itself against all forms of dissolution. It understands “the election of Israel” as imposing on it a heavier obligation to God, not as an unseemly preferment. It welcomes into its midst all those who voluntarily wish to enter. It does not seek to dissolve the institutions of its offspring, nor does it cherish, as a proximate or remote goal, the abandonment by Christians of their Christian loyalties. Rather, it desires that its offspring attain and maintain the spiritual heights which they often nobly expressed.

The Synagogue envisages the unity of mankind in a lofty spiritual bond, enabling men both to preserve the institutions which they hold sacred and to transcend them.