Jewish Week: "Toward Interfaith Harmony"

From The Jewish Week, Vol. 214; No. 22; Pg. 3.

The heads of nearly 20 Christian-Jewish relations groups nationwide took the first step this week to create a new association to push greater understanding between the two faith groups.

The officials, representing mostly academic centers affiliated with universities from Florida, Chicago, Indiana, Ohio and elsewhere, met for the first time at Manhattan's Union League Club.

By the end of their day-and-a-half conference the interfaith experts -- representing Catholics, Jews and Protestant institutions -- agreed that the need is greater than ever before to expand the Christian-Jewish dialogue in the U.S. and worldwide.

And while the conference had been planned for months, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America strengthened the belief by some participants that interfaith cooperation is crucial.

"We realized that while focusing on Christian-Jewish relations, we have to be cognizant of Islam and the world situation, and find ways of relating to the Islamic reality," said Father John Pawlikowski, director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at Chicago's Catholic Theological Union, and one of the prime movers of the as-yet-unnamed group.

Dr. Franklin Sherman, ecumenical expert for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said he is increasingly concerned about an upsurge in anti-Semitic rhetoric emanating from Islamic clerics since Sept. 11.

"Christians must show their concern," he said. Pawlikowski said some existing Christian-Jewish dialogue groups, such as the embattled International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), "are not working well" and "have become outmoded."

"This is an idea whose time has come," said Sherman."

Among the Jewish leaders attending the first meeting were Rabbi David Rosen, international interreligious director for the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Barry Cytron, director of the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning in St. Paul, Minn., and Judith Banki, program director at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York.


(back) Donald Clifford, Charles Arian, Michael Cooper, Friedhelm Pieper, David Rosen, Philip Cunningham, Sandford Cloud, Laurence Edwards, Eugene Fisher, Lawrence Frizzell, Audrey Doetzel, Peter Zaas, Racelle Weiman, Peter Pettit, Michael Signer, Hanspeter Heinz, Margaret Obrecht (front:) Barry Cytron, John Pawlikowski, Franklin Sherman, Judith Banki, Gemma deLuca, Renae Cohen