Friday, July 20, 2012
An Open Letter to My Jewish and Christian Colleagues
19 July 2012
Dear Members of the Vancouver Jewish-Christian Dialogue,
When the news of the bomb attack in Bulgaria came to my attention, I knew that I could not share only private thoughts with one or two colleagues. So I write to you as Co-Chair of our Vancouver Dialogue, but first and foremost, I write as a Christian who exercises a leadership role within my tradition.
Here in Vancouver Christians who use the Revised Common Lectionary have been following the story of David's rise to become the monarch of a united kingdom and the establishment of Jerusalem as the political and religious heart of his kingdom. These readings remind us that the Holy Land is not only a religious symbol but the historic home of the Jewish people. They also remind us that conflict has often been part of that history and that concern for land and security has been a never-ending dimension of Jewish life. These readings also serve to remind Christians that God's covenant with Israel has never been revoked and that we, as Christians, understand ourselves, by God's gracious act, to have been grafted onto this olive tree.
This summer we face the anniversaries of two terrorist attacks on the Jewish community: the attack on the Jewish community in Buenos Aires and the murder of nine members of the Israeli Olympic team in Munich. These anniversaries only serve to punctuate the continuing anti-Semitism in our world and the targeting of Jewish communities throughout the world for acts of violence and terror.
These anniversaries and other acts of violence against innocent civilians come during a summer when several churches in North America have debated or will debate resolutions regarding the State of Israel and how these churches can give impetus to a lasting and just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. These resolutions have generated concern and criticism within the North American Jewish community as well as putting stresses on relations between Jews and Christians.
I ask my Christian colleagues to undertake to strengthen the personal and collegial relationships that they have with their Jewish neighbours and colleagues. Now is the time, today is the day, to embody the covenantal love with which God loves all of us. Now is the time, today is the day, for Christians to ask the leaders of our churches to make unequivocal condemnations of violence against any members of the Jewish community, whether in Israel or elsewhere in the world.
I ask my Jewish colleagues to remember that you are not alone. You have colleagues here in Vancouver and elsewhere who are committed to the peace and security of the Jewish community. We hold you and all victims of violence and terror in our prayers and in our consciences as we work with you for the peace of Jerusalem.