UPDATE (november 2012): Read JewishIsrael's full response and comprehensive report here
Jewish Israel's Rabbinic Director, Rabbi Dr. Sholom Gold, has responded to Rabbi Riskin's feature article on interfaith theological dialogue in a published letter to the editor of Makor Rishon. The below letter, which can also be read in Hebrew here, will be followed by an upcoming Jewish Israel report of what we feel are major problems with Rabbi Riskin's position. In this report we will also be covering the missionary agenda of the church personalities whom Rabbi Riskin deems as partners and friends.
Over a week ago, Makor Rishon carried a large feature article penned by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, in which he asserts that Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, z"l was an advocate of theological dialogue with Christians, albeit with guidelines. Rabbi Riskin's views are a radical departure from what has long-been understood, and in recent years reaffirmed, by the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), as Rav Soloveitchik's halachic position opposing interfaith theological discussion, dialogue and debate on matters of personal faith, doctrine and ritual.
Rav Soloveitchik's halachic treatise, “Confrontation”, on interfaith confrontation is a timeless masterpiece which holds special relevance today as the Jewish people attempt to navigate the fine line of engaging a supportive Christian community without forming theological bonds, which would break down the respected boundaries between different faiths and ultimately compromise Jewish principles and foundations.
"Confrontation" was written with the intention of preserving the uniqueness of the Jewish faith in a time of change, re-evaluation and reflection in the Christian world. The directives and guidelines laid down by Rav Soloveitchik are so inclusive and far-reaching as to have profound relevance regardless as to whether the ever-shifting world trend is philo-Semitic, anti- Semitic or in flux.
It is clear that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, a former student of Rav Soloveitchik, has chosen to pursue a theologically-based path which seeks commonality, a covenantal relationship, and "religious equality" with evangelical Christians. It is therefore misleading and somewhat disingenuous for Rabbi Riskin to manipulate the Rav's words and to speculate on their meaning in order to fit his current agenda – especially when it is quite evident from Rav Soloveitchik's published addendum to "Confrontation" that he was opposed to dialogue and discussions on some of the very matters Rabbi Riskin presents at his Christian- Jewish center for theological dialogue.
It should be remembered that regardless of the positive changes taking place in the Christian world, Evangelical Christianity remains committed to missionary endeavors, and seeks to erode the barriers between faith communities, culminating in ultimate spiritual assimilation in the form of "one new man" under christ. This danger of religious integration was especially concerning to Rav Soloveitchik, and is a consistent theme throughout "Confrontation". There is ample proof that the very people whom Rabbi Riskin praises in his Makor Rishon article are actively engaged in such a mission to the Jews.
Rav Soloveitchik taught the Jewish world to walk with dignity and to uphold the integrity of our Torah and tradition, while encouraging active participation in the larger world community.
We regret that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has chosen not only to disregard Rav Soloveitchik's directives, but to misinterpret them as well. He has ravaged the lines that "the Rav" so painstakingly drew in order to ensure Jewish spiritual continuity for us and our children.