ROME, ITALY – After Attending the Papal General Audience yesterday, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief Rabbi of Efrat and chancellor of The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC) had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican yesterday, briefing him on the work the CJCUC is doing in Israel. “We are taking Your Holiness’ call to stand in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters in Israel and advocating on their behalf,” Riskin said. “We are looking for ways to alleviate the poverty conditions within this religious community and opportunities to dialogue on those areas where we must cooperate: our united faith in a God of love, compassion, morality and peace rather than a God of will, power and Jihad, ” he added. Rabbi Riskin also informed the Pope of the dialogue opportunities for Christians visiting Israel in which they can learn more about the Jewish foundations of the Christian faith. In response, Pope Benedict XVI commented that “we need to work together.”
After the audience, CJCUC’s Executive Director David Nekrutman elaborated on CJCUC’s focus in 2011 to address the issues relating to the Christian community in Israel. “For the first time in history Jews as a majority are coming face to face with religious minorities. It is Judaism’s obligation to adhere to the biblical mandate: You shall love the stranger in your land.” He also stated that each religious and ethnic community in Israel has its specific needs and “we cannot just lump everyone into one melting pot.” As an organization whose mission is to improve relations between Judaism and Christianity, Nekrutman stressed that for CJCUC to become a trusted partner in dialogue with Christians living in the Holy Land, they first “must address their individual concerns.”
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