Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 2008 / 12 Adar I 5768

Other People's Prayers

By Jonathan Tobin



Printer Friendly Version

Email this article



Interfaith dialogue must be based on the principle that respect is a two-way street


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 1263, the great Spanish scholar Rabbi Moshe ben-Nachman, better known as Nachmanides, was summoned to Barcelona by King James I of Aragon to engage in a rather stressful form of interfaith dialogue with representatives of the Dominican and Franciscan religious orders.

Their debate is known to history as the Disputation of Barcelona. The purpose of those who initiated the event (principally, an apostate Jew) was to compel the conversion of Spanish Jewry to Christianity. Guaranteed freedom of speech, Nachmanides, the sole Jewish representative in the proceedings, gave as good as he got in a free-wheeling medieval rhetorical brawl, in which both sides made it clear how little they thought of their opponents' faith.

Though given a reward by the king for his performance, Nahmanides was eventually forced to flee the country because of the church's anger. In particular, Pope Clement IV sought to punish the rabbi for his courageous defense of Judaism.

CATHOLIC REVIVAL
Flash forward 745 years and the lessons of the Disputation still stand. Public arguments about matters of faith can be a dangerous game whose outcome often serves the purposes of those who wish to spread intolerance rather than knowledge.

Though the context of the present day couldn't be any more different than the circumstances of 1263 Barcelona, many Jews appear to be thinking about interfaith relations with this piece of sad history still in mind.

The latest irritant in Catholic-Jewish relations is the result of the church's revival of an Easter Week devotion in which believers asked to pray for the conversion of the Jews.

As part of an effort to break down divisions within Catholicism that had grown up around the abandonment of the Latin Mass, last year Pope Benedict XVI allowed the saying of the Tridentine rite. The prayer, which was dropped by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, spoke of Jewish "blindness" and asked the Almighty to "remove the veil from their hearts."

Shocked by this reversion to language that was part of a long history of the teaching of contempt for Judaism, Jewish leaders asked the Vatican to reconsider the move. Last week, the Vatican responded by issuing a new version of the prayer which eliminated the lines about blindness" and the "veil" over Jewish hearts, but did not omit the call for conversion.

The Jewish reaction to this move was anguished. The Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to the pope asking that he further amend the prayer. The Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist rabbinical movements are all expected to add their pleas soon.

In response, Cardinal Walter Kasper seemed to express bewilderment at the sensitivity of the Jews. He told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, "I don't understand why Jews cannot accept that we can make use of our freedom to formulate our papers." His point was that the prayer "reflects the faith of the church, and furthermore Jews have prayers in their liturgical texts that we Catholics don't like one must respect differences." While the cardinal's statement illustrates the slippery slope down which this sort of dispute can soon lead to hurt feelings on all sides, he is, of course, right. Catholics are free to believe whatever they want about the universal truth of the doctrines of their faith. The same right must also apply to everyone else when it comes to their opinions about their own religions and everyone else's. Problems arise not from believing these different things, but how we act on those differences.

On that score, it is important for Jews to understand that the Catholic Church has, in recent generations, moved light years away from the spirit of the Disputation of Barcelona. Under the inspired leadership of Pope John XXIII and later Pope John Paul II, the Vatican discarded the teaching of contempt for Judaism, and introduced new curricula in their schools and churches based on respect for Judaism and recognition of past persecutions.

As for proselytizing, unlike many Protestant denominations, the church has dropped campaigns to specifically target Jews for conversion.

Yet Jewish groups still fear that if the Vatican, in seeking to mollify its own liturgical conservative wing, moves away from the spirit of Vatican II, it will mean that Catholics no longer embrace John Paul II's beliefs that taught Catholics to think of Jews as their theological older brothers whose legitimacy should not be questioned.

That fear is genuine and it is based, in no small part, on the legacy of church-based missionizing that was rooted in compulsion and oppression of Jews.

But as Cardinal Kasper told Vatican Radio in another interview, the revised prayer "does not mean we are embarking on a mission" to convert Jews. Rather, they are just expressing their faith.

Jews and Catholics may have many things in common, but they do not accept the fundamentals of each other's religions. No less than in 1263, Christians believe theirs is the true path to salvation. Jews still disagree. In societies where religion rules all, such as most of the Islamic world, such theological differences are just as much a matter of life and death as they were in Barcelona during the Disputation.

AGREEING TO DISAGREE
But in free societies such as our own, we can merely say, "vive la difference" and leave it at that, knowing none of us will be the worse for wear as a result of our contrasting views about the nature of eternity or divinity.

Genuine interfaith dialogue is not rooted in agreement, but rather, on agreement to disagree. The trick is to do so in a civil manner, and to avoid public attacks on each others faiths that can only lead to discord and prejudice.

So while it is all well and good for Jews to hope that the Catholic Church never chooses to deviate from the path of John Paul II, it is not for Jews to tell Catholics what to say in their prayers, any more than it is legitimate for them to go back to trying to censor the Jewish liturgy as they once did. Respect is a two-way street.

Rather than seek to turn Benedict's revival of the Tridentine mass into a major issue, what we need to do is to stop worrying about Catholic prayers, and instead continue the work of bringing the two faiths closer together in defense of Western freedoms.

This a moment in history when the greatest challenge to religious freedom is not coming from the traditional sources of reaction within Christianity, such as those that sought to punish Nachmanides for defending Judaism at Barcelona. Instead, our challenge comes from forces within Islam that have already sought to censor the beliefs of Pope Benedict for defending the West. Their goal is to dismantle the entire edifice of tolerance that Jews and Christians have worked so hard to create.

Given that reality, this is not the time to pick fights over other people's prayers.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

Jonathan Tobin Archives




© 2007, Jonathan Tobin