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Dabru Emet (“Speak the Truth”) is a statement by more than 170 Jewish scholars issued in September 2000.

In recent years, there has been a dramatic and unprecedented shift in Jewish and Christian relations. Throughout the nearly two millennia of Jewish exile, Christians have tended to characterize Judaism as a failed religion or, at best, a religion that prepared the way for, and is completed in, Christianity. In the decades since the Holocaust, however, Christianity has changed dramatically. An increasing number of official church bodies, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, have made public statements of their remorse about Christian mistreatment of Jews and Judaism. These statements have declared, furthermore, that Christian teaching and preaching can and must be reformed so that they acknowledge God’s enduring covenant with the Jewish people and celebrate the contribution of Judaism to world civilization and to Christian faith itself.

We believe these changes merit a thoughtful Jewish response. Speaking only for ourselves”an inter­ denominational group of Jewish scholars”we believe it is time for Jews to learn about the efforts of Christians to honor Judaism. We believe it is time for Jews to reflect on what Judaism may now say about Christianity. As a first step, we offer eight brief statements about how Jews and Christians may relate to one another.

Jews and Christians worship the same God. Before the rise of Christianity, Jews were the only worshipers of the God of Israel. But Christians also worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, creator of heaven and earth. While Christian worship is not a viable religious choice for Jews, as Jewish theologians we rejoice that, through Christianity, hundreds of millions of people have entered into relationship with the God of Israel.

Jews and Christians seek authority from the same book”the Bible (what Jews call “Tanakh” and Christians call the “Old Testament”). Turning to it for religious orientation, spiritual enrichment, and communal education, we each take away similar lessons: God created and sustains the universe; God established a covenant with the people Israel; God’s revealed word guides Israel to a life of righteousness; and God will ultimately redeem Israel and the whole world. Yet Jews and Christians interpret the Bible differently on many points. Such differences must always be respected.

Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel. The most important event for Jews since the Holocaust has been the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the Promised Land. As members of a biblically based religion, Christians appreciate that Israel was promised”and given”to Jews as the physical center of the covenant between them and God. Many Christians support the State of Israel for reasons far more profound than mere politics. As Jews, we applaud this support. We also recognize that Jewish tradition mandates justice for all non“Jews who reside in a Jewish state.

Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah. Central to the moral principles of Torah is the inalienable sanctity and dignity of every human being. All of us were created in the image of God. This shared moral emphasis can be the basis of an improved relationship between our two communities. It can also be the basis of a powerful witness to all humanity for improving the lives of our fellow human beings and for standing against the immoralities and idolatries that harm and degrade us. Such witness is especially needed after the unprecedented horrors of the past century.

Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon. Without the long history of Christian anti“Judaism and Christian violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out. Too many Christians participated in, or were sympathetic to, Nazi atrocities against Jews. Other Christians did not protest sufficiently against these atrocities. But Nazism itself was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity. If the Nazi extermination of the Jews had been fully successful, it would have turned its murderous rage more directly to Christians. We recognize with gratitude those Christians who risked or sacrificed their lives to save Jews during the Nazi regime. With that in mind, we encourage the continuation of recent efforts in Christian theology to repudiate unequivocally contempt of Judaism and the Jewish people. We applaud those Christians who reject this teaching of contempt, and we do not blame them for the sins committed by their ancestors.

The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture. Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition. Jews know and serve God through Torah and the Jewish tradition. That difference will not be settled by one community insisting that it has interpreted Scripture more accurately than the other, nor by exercising political power over the other. Jews can respect Christians’ faithfulness to their revelation just as we expect Christians to respect our faithfulness to our revelation. Neither Jew nor Christian should be pressed into affirming the teaching of the other community.

A new relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice. An improved relationship will not accelerate the cultural and religious assimilation that Jews rightly fear. It will not change traditional Jewish forms of worship, nor increase intermarriage between Jews and non“Jews, nor persuade more Jews to convert to Christianity, nor create a false blending of Judaism and Christianity. We respect Christianity as a faith that originated within Judaism and that still has significant contacts with it. We do not see it as an extension of Judaism. Only if we cherish our own traditions can we pursue this relationship with integrity.

Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace. Jews and Christians, each in their own way, recognize the unredeemed state of the world as reflected in the persistence of persecution, poverty, and human degradation and misery. Although justice and peace are finally God’s, our joint efforts, together with those of other faith communities, will help bring the kingdom of God for which we hope and long. Separately and together, we must work to bring justice and peace to our world. In this enterprise, we are guided by the vision of the prophets of Israel: “It shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established at the top of the mountains and be exalted above the hills, and the nations shall flow unto it . . . and many peoples shall go and say, ‘Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths’”(Isaiah 2:2“3).

Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity,” organized under the auspices of the

Dr. David Blumenthal
Emory University

Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz
Hebrew Union College“Jewish Institute of Religion

Rabbi Gary Bretton“Granatoor
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
New York, New York

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin
Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Robert Chazan
New York University

Dr. Norman Cohen
Hebrew Union College
“Jewish Institute of Religion

Rabbi Barry Cytron
The Jay Phillips Center for Jewish“Christian Learning

Dr. Elliot Dorff
University of Judaism

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Rabbi Joseph H. Ehrenkranz
Center for Christian“Jewish Understanding

Rabbi Jerome Epstein
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Rabbi Seymour L. Essrog
Adat Chaim Congregation
Reisterstown, Maryland

Rabbi Harvey Fields
Wilshire Boulevard Temple
Los Angeles, California

Rabbi Barry Freundel
Kesher Israel Congregation
Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Albert H. Friedlander
Leo Baeck College
London, England

Rabbi Laura Geller
Temple Emanuel
Beverly Hills, California

Dr. Robert Gibbs
University of Toronto

Dr. Neil Gillman
Jewish Theological Seminary of America

Dr. David Gordis
University of Judaism

Rabbi Irving Greenberg
Jewish Life Network

Dr. Susannah Heschel
Dartmouth College

Dr. Lawrence Hoffman
Hebrew Union College“Jewish Institute of Religion

Rabbi Leon Klenicki
Anti“Defamation League

Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Ronald Kronish
Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel

Rabbi Harold Kushner
Natick, Massachusetts

Rabbi Simeon J. Maslin
Congregation Keneseth Israel
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

Dr. Paul Mendes“Flohr
Hebrew University/University of Chicago

Rabbi Paul J. Menitoff
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Joel Meyers
The Rabbinical Assembly

Dr. Alan Mittleman
Muhlenberg College

Rabbi Hayim Goren Perelmuter
Bernardin Center for Christian and Jewish Studies at Catholic Theological Union

Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut
Holy Blossom TempleToronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Ronald Price
Institute of Traditional Judaism

Dr. Hilary Putnam
Harvard University

Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin
The Community Synagogue
Port Washington, New York

Rabbi David Sandmel
Institute on Christian and Jewish Studies

Dr. Marc Saperstein
George Washington University

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso & Rabbi Dennis Sasso
Congregation Beth“El Zedeck
Indianapolis, Indiana

Rabbi Chaim Seidler“Feller
Hillel Jewish Student Center
Los Angeles, California

Rabbi Ronald B. Sobel
Congregation Emanu“El
New York, New York

Rabbi Jacob Staub
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Dr. David A. Teusch
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

Rabbi Lennard Thal
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Rabbi Arnold Jacob WolfK.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Elliot Wolfson
New York University

Rabbi David WolpeSinai Temple
Los Angeles, California

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman
Hebrew Union College“Jewish Institute of Religion

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