JewishIsrael's Recommended Approach to Interfaith Relations with the Christian World

These guidelines were originally formulated under the guidance of JewishIsrael's Rabbinic Director,Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold in 2008, and were expanded under his guidance in May 2015 (see addendum) 

Recent alliances between Israel and a variety of Christian evangelical groups require that the Orthodox world clarify policy and establish guidelines that will prevent any blurring of halachic lines, and to ensure the spiritual integrity of the Jewish people both in Israel and the Diaspora.

 

We urge all those involved in all aspects of the burgeoning relationship with evangelical Christians to consider that the very nature of the evangelical movement is to evangelize (spread the Christian gospel via missions).   Therefore, the following should be acknowledged and understood:

 

  1. Judaism does not recognize any heritage described as Judeo-Christian in nature.  Any reference or dialogue pertaining to Judaism’s alleged sharing of common theology, prophecies, messianic aspirations or familial roots with Christianity is to be avoided. (Source: Rav Yosef B. Soloveitchik)

    Judaic values are universal and a gift to mankind. As such, these values have been, and continue to be, shared and adapted by various faith communities.  The Jewish people, however, have no need to add to, subtract from, or transform what has kept us in good stead for thousands of years.
  1. The Jewish world asserts its necessity to preserve and protect its sovereign status, rights, and religious character as an independent community via distinctive political and religious legislation, and measures designed to ensure the unique status and continuity of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.
  2. Missionary activity, whether overt or covert, is to be shunned. (See attached letter from Gedolei Ha’dor regarding missionary activity, from Kislev 5624)

    This would include:
    • Discussions, literature, and programs designed to invite the Jewish people to observe or participate in the blessing of the nation of Israel on behalf of alien deities, scriptures, or ideas forbidden to the Jewish people.
    • Endeavors designed to convince Jews to adapt their faith by accepting another deity, or by grafting the beliefs of other faith communities onto Judaism’s roots.

      1. The issues of Redemption and the arrival of the Moshiach are sacred principles of the Jewish faith (Source: Rambam 13 Principles).  To openly encourage various groups - who hold opposing end-of-days scenarios - is ethically questionable, and spiritually untenable.
      2. Those choosing to embark on cultural, political, or humanitarian ventures with various members and institutions of other faith communities are obligated to be fully aware of, and take into account, the character, intentions and ambitions of the particular participants, as well as the wider network and associations connected with any participants from those other faith communities.

       

      Fundraising and monetary activities in this regard require meticulous ethical accountability and consideration.  A qualified halachic authority should be consulted before initiating any interfaith charitable or business endeavors.

      It is incumbent upon all Jewish leaders involved with consulting and advising the Jewish people in interfaith matters to be sensitized and aware of the real motives of pro-Zionist Christian organizations and their activities throughout the State of Israel. It is also imperative that all Jewish leaders become attuned to the spiritual connotations behind the various keywords, phrases and concepts currently being utilized and disseminated by a variety of Christian churches and movements with theological agendas vis-à-vis Israel and the Jewish people.

       

      We at JewishIsrael hope that Jewish leaders will study and investigate these matters in depth and will continue to strengthen the commitment to protect our Jewish heritage from negative influences and to spiritually strengthen Am Yisrael during these challenging times.

       

       

      ADDENDUM, MAY 18 2015

       

      It runs contrary to Jewish values and a normative understanding of Judaism and its prophetic teachings to endorse Temple-oriented endeavors with non-Jewish leaders, sects and organizations who have a christ-centered agenda for the Temple Mount.

       

      JewishIsrael strongly urges refraining from actions and statements which seemingly embolden, legitimize, and empower Christianity’s claim to the Temple Mount, such as:

       

      1. Referring to jesus as a rabbi or as an Orthodox/Observant Jew.

       

      1. Referencing new testament parables and concepts, such as jesus turning over the tables at the Temple, or breaking the walls of partition between faiths.

       

      1. Statements that claim the Temple Mount is a Christian holy site.

       

      1. Discussing in public forums (such as Christian Television, press, and interfaith events) eschatology, and seeking end-days commonality between Judaism and Christianity.

       

      1. Conveying ambiguous messages, which interpret Jewish scripture and prophecy to include Christianity as a legitimate or acceptable form of worship at the end of days.

       

       

      JewishIsrael urges the Israeli government, diplomats and Jewish leadership to dismiss any discussions regarding a special status for evangelical churches and other evangelizing sects in Israel.

       

      JewishIsrael strongly suggests that the Israeli government and influential Jewish leaders and organizations reframe the concept of religious freedom and freedom of worship in a manner which is halachically acceptable, which ensures Jewish sovereignty and which preserves the integrity of Eretz Yisrael.

       

      When discussing church persecution and attacks by Muslims against Christians it is essential that Jews emphasize the struggle for a moral and civil society, humanity and basic human rights, rather than be trapped into advocating Christendom and the spread of Christianity.

       

      For additional information about JewishIsrael, please email us at: info@Jewishisrael.com

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