Rabbi Gold responds to Rabbi Riskin's interfaith praise service in an Orthodox Synagogue on Yom Ha'atzmaut (April 2015)

Halachic giants such as Rav Moshe Feinstein Z"L and Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik Z"L established timeless directives and guidelines for the Jewish community, specifically geared for philo-semitic periods when the Christian world reaches out to the Jewish people with conciliatory words and gestures.

The parameters set by these rabbis, including the injunction against interfaith worship, were meant to ensure that Judaism remain a distinct and unique faith community and to protect those Jews who were most vulnerable or prone to accepting foreign values and theology.

With this in mind, it is tragically ironic that the "Day to Praise" interfaith worship event, held at Hatzvi Yisrael Synagogue in Jerusalem on Yom Ha'atzmaut, was conceived by the Jewish Executive Director of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin's interfaith center, who very publicly admitted that he was influenced and received his inspiration for the event while studying Christian theology at the well-known Christian College, Oral Roberts University. The event was pre-publicized on Israel radio as being both "controversial and revolutionary". And Christian audiences were told in promotions for the event that "Rabbi Riskin is the Jack Hayford and Billy Graham of the Orthodox Jewish world".

Such messages going out from Zion are a source of great pain, and a desecration of Hashem’s name. This is further compounded by the fact that Rabbi Riskin frequently touts Rav Soloveitchik as having been his revered mentor.

What should go out from Zion and from our synagogues is pure Torah, not an interfaith amalgamation featuring evangelical preachers, on a synagogue pulpit, who remain committed to spreading the Christian gospel in Israel.

That Rabbi Riskin expressed shock at resistance to such an event from the rabbinic establishment is simply disingenuous. That he chose to identify the source of opposition to the Yom Ha'atzmaut interfaith worship event as emanating exclusively from the Hareidi world was, at the very least, misleading.

Rabbi Riskin's incessant breaching of long-established interfaith boundaries are disturbing, dangerous and wrong for the Jewish world, more so in Eretz Yisrael.

 

Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold

Dean of the Avrum Silver Jerusalem College for Adults, Orthodox Union's Israel Center

Rabbi Emeritus, Kehilat Zichron Yosef, Har Nof, Jerusalem

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