Faith & Reason: Time for Jews to Look beyond the Holocaust the Interplay between Judaism and Christianity Is More Subtle Than Modern Politics Often Allows - as a Revisiting of the Common Sources Will Show

By Kessler, Edward | The Independent (London, England), September 18, 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Faith & Reason: Time for Jews to Look beyond the Holocaust the Interplay between Judaism and Christianity Is More Subtle Than Modern Politics Often Allows - as a Revisiting of the Common Sources Will Show


Kessler, Edward, The Independent (London, England)


THESE ARE the Days of Awe, the week which culminates in the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, during which time Jews consider their failings during the past year, fast for 24 hours and pray to God for forgiveness. It is, therefore, a suitable time to reflect on relations between Jews and Christians, the theme of a conference organised recently by the Centre for Jewish- Christian Relations in Cambridge.

Two immense events of the 20th century combine to provide a dual focus to relations between the two religions today: the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel. Both sparked an intense desire among many Christians and Jews to learn about Jewish-Christian relations. However, as has been pointed out by Remi Hoekman, Secretary of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, there are dangers when the agenda becomes dominated by either one of these subjects.

Focusing solely on the Holocaust produces a distorted view for both sides. Jews can construct out of it a negative Jewish identity which, without the positive side of Judaism, will not be a value to be handed down over the generations. Christians can come away with an exclusive picture of the Jew as victim, without an awareness of the positive aspects of Jewish culture.

Focusing solely on the State of Israel, by contrast, reduces Jewish-Christian relations to the Zionist issue with the danger that those Christians, and secular Jews, who are unsympathetic to Israeli political stances risk dismissing the richness of the Jewish cultural and religious inheritance.

In any case there are, increasingly, other issues arising prompted by the growth of a New Europe and the collapse of Communist governments in Central and Eastern Europe. On the positive side no one can doubt that the Catholic Church today has a far more constructive attitude to Judaism than ever before. Numerous recent Vatican documents now speak of the need for Christians to understand Jews as Jews rather than seeing them merely as potential converts. There is also a new sense of the importance to Catholics of understanding that their religion grows out of Judaism and that, without an understanding of it, they cannot properly understand their own faith.

On the downside it is evident that many of the new teachings are still not percolating down from the Vatican to the pew. In Poland, for example semi-ignorant clergy continue to teach Catholicism with attitudes towards Jews and Judaism which differ little from the traditional teaching of contempt. Some promising work is being done, particularly by the Jesuits in Cracow, but there is still an uphill task fighting anti-Semitism as the controversy over the crosses erected at Auschwitz makes clear - it took an act of parliament eventually to get them removed.

In interesting contrast to all this are the relations between Jews and the Orthodox Church.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Faith & Reason: Time for Jews to Look beyond the Holocaust the Interplay between Judaism and Christianity Is More Subtle Than Modern Politics Often Allows - as a Revisiting of the Common Sources Will Show
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?