The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) in Efrat deplores all attempts to convert Jews. The Jewish people have always resisted efforts to take them away from the Torah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the holy tradition of their ancestors. Jews were called on frequently to sacrifice their lives rather than abandon Judaism and they must continue to resist all efforts today to convert them out of Judaism.
The Bible Society in Israel last week mailed Christian Testament bibles to members of Knesset. Their vision, as stated on their website, is that the ‘life-changing message of the Bible [which for them includes the New Testament] will shape the community of Israel and that the people of Israel will learn to know the Messiah of Israel. Let the people of Israel in the land of Israel hear the good news of salvation through the Messiah of Israel.’ This evangelistic tactic is nothing new in Israel, and CJCUC condemns it.
A direct missionary attempt against Jews says that the Jewish soul in its present state is not open to salvation, and thus denies the validity of Judaism. We, as the Jewish people, have a covenant with God that has never been revoked. We have suffered from replacement theology for two millennia, but now that God has fulfilled his biblical promise of returning the Jews to their homeland, there needs to be a halt to missionary initiatives to Jews in God’s covenanted land as well as around the world.
CJCUC also condemns Israel’s Knesset Member Michael Ben Ari‘s public display of tearing up the New Testaments from The Bible Society of Israel. It is clear from his shameful remarks that his intolerant act lacked any knowledge of the recent decades of positive dialogue and relations between Jews and Christians. His act was intended as a defamation of all Christianity and believing Christians. The fact that he arranged for his aide to photograph and publicize his act in a local Israeli newspaper indicates that his motive was about political gain, not about protecting Torah, Judaism or Jews. His cause would have been far better served had he returned those Christian Bibles to the address from which they came.
We are blessed to live in a new era, one in which many Christian denominations and movements acknowledge the living validity of the Jewish people’s covenant with God, in which there is no official mission to convert the Jewish people. Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, Jews and Christians have found a way to live in harmony and mutual respect. The acts of the Bible Society of Israel and Ben Ari aim to appear to their own constituents as motivated by piety, but each is a more cynical exploitation for the purpose of scoring points in the public eye.
As the first Orthodox Jewish institution in Israel to support religious dialogue with Christians, we at CJCUC work closely with millions of sincere Christians who support the Jewish people, Israel and Jewish fidelity to Judaism, without any hidden agenda. In the face of mutual enemies, both Jews and Christians dare not give into intolerance, hatred and ignorance about each other.
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin
CJCUC Executive Director
Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn
CJCUC North American Director