A National Reckoning of the Soul

December 16, 2022

Christian and Jewish scholars and Interfaith Leaders Call on all Churches to Confront Crisis of Antisemitism 

Alarmed by the crisis of antisemitism, the Council of Centers on Christian-Jewish Relations (CCJR) issued a groundbreaking call to all American churches to vigorously  and proactively combat antisemitism, including identifying and addressing anti-Judaism in prayers, theologies and educational materials. 

The statement from CCJR, an association of 30 national centers devoted to improving Christian-Jewish relations, is the first of its kind, providing practical steps and requesting religious self-criticism in response to the dangerous rise of Jew hatred in America. Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, helped implement, draft and title the document. 

The full text of the statement can be accessed HERE

“CCJR is increasingly alarmed that we may be witnessing the normalization of antisemitism in American discourse, which recalls events that happened in Germany when the Nazis rose to power in the 1930s,” the statement says. “So-called ‘Christian’ nationalists openly declare that true Christians hate Jews. Jews are being verbally and physically abused in the streets, vilified in social media, attacked on campuses, and assaulted and shot in their synagogues.”

But the statement notes that many people are unaware that since the Second World War, the majority of Christian churches have affirmed that Jews remain beloved of God.  “In numerous official documents, they have recognized Jews as brothers and sisters in covenant with God and urged dialogue and collaboration.” 

Therefore, CCJR is imploring implore all churches “to redouble their efforts to denounce antisemitism publicly as antithetical to the very essence of Christianity itself.

“We appeal to preachers and teachers to reiterate that hatred of Jews is a sin against God and humanity, violating Jesus’ admonition to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31)—significantly, a command from the Torah (Leviticus 19:18). 

“We urge them to encourage their communities to speak out strongly against antisemitism when they encounter it and provide them with strategies to do so. We plead for the churches and individual Christians to deepen or develop partnerships with Jews and Jewish communities to further interreligious solidarity. We encourage Christian worship that emphasizes the common mission of Jews and Christians to give witness to God in the world.”

“The fact that Jews and Christians can work together on a document such as this as colleagues and friends shows how far we’ve come, and how much more we can do together to stop hate and antisemitism and build bridges of respect and understanding,” Rabbi Greenberg said. 

The statement acknowledges that the roots of modern antisemitism and associated conspiracy theories “grew out of Christian libels perpetuated against Jews in medieval Europe and out of centuries of Christian religious teaching of contempt for Jews. Since the long habit of denigrating Jews as blind or faithless is not quickly unlearned, CCJR believes that Christians today need to examine their own consciences, what ancient Jewish tradition calls cheshbon hanefesh, a reckoning of the soul.”  

The statement provides a list of questions Christians should use for self-reflection about anti-Jewish sentiments in their lives. 

“Contemplating these questions with a focus on historical accuracy highlights the Jewish identity of Jesus,” the statement explains. “This effectively counteracts the subversion of Christian faith by self-declared “Christian” haters of Jews. 

“We entreat the churches to look inward by examining their preaching, teaching, and theologies to eliminate any traces of anti-Jewish sentiments and look outward to act and speak against all forms of antisemitism they encounter.” 

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