Rabbi Visits Benedict XVI

Pope: “We Need to Work Together”

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A New-York born rabbi who is the chancellor of a Jewish-Christian cooperation group in Israel met with Benedict XVI after Wednesday’s general audience.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, West Bank, met with the Pope and briefed him on the work of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC). 

“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, according to a CJCUC statement. He told the Holy Father that the group is looking for ways to alleviate Christians’ poverty in Israel and to foster dialogue on issues of faith. 

Benedict XVI responded that “we need to work together,” the statement informed. 

After the audience, CJCUC’s executive director, David Nekrutman, said that Jews as a majority are “coming face to face with religious minorities” and the biblical mandate, “You shall love the stranger in your land.” 

“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 niche is to improve relations between Judaism and Christianity, CJCUC feels that the way to become a trusted dialogue partner with Christians living in the Holy Land is that we must address their individual concerns,” he stated. 

Rabbi Riskin also reported that he told the Holy Father about a program to instruct rabbis on joining with other religious leaders to deepen understanding and cooperation, and about “current dialogue opportunities for Christians visiting Israel to learn more about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.” 

One such initiative in this vein is explained at the CJCUC Web site: a campus to be established for Christians on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, with a curriculum “designed to teach Christians the Hebraic foundations of their faith along with classes to learn about the significance of Israel today in the areas of history, archaeology, economics and political accomplishments.”

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