UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim MirvisOffice of the Chief Rabbi

UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis praised a new document on Jewish-Christian interfaith relations written jointly by the Jewish community and the Church of Scotland, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Rabbi Mirvis described the 85-page Jewish and Chrsitian Glossary as an “important step forward” after a previous document from a decade ago released by the Church of Scotland caused widespread outrage in the British Jewish community for alleging that Jews did not have historic ties to the Land of Israel.

In the forward of the Glossary, Rabbi Mirvis, who will address the Church of Scotland on Wednesday, wrote of a “valuable advance between our respective communities”.

“While we still have a long road to travel to understand each other more fully, and especially to better comprehend our theological approaches to Land and Covenant, an important step forward has now been taken,” he said.

The Glossary was compiled jointly by a group of Orthodox rabbis and Church ministers. It examines the views of key religious terms, such as Chosen People, Covenant, and Israel from the Jewish and Christian perspectives.

The document noted that Christians “need to empathize and listen more to Jewish connections with the Land [of Israel] and the complex and deep ways that this subject connects to Jewish history, emotion, identity, autonomy, safety etc.”

The document also addressed members of the Church of Scotland on Israel, stating: “When it comes to Christians focusing their energies on advocacy for Palestinians, they can often forget that Jews live as a vulnerable minority outside Israel and within Israel still live with numerous security concerns. In our universal message of justice and peace we can sometimes ignore the humanity of Jews and Israelis in order to emphasize the humanity and needs of Palestinians.”

The Jewish commentary in the Glossary explained that “if there is no place in Christian theology, and more specifically here Church of Scotland theology to understand a Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, this approach will quickly be connected with other approaches against Zionism that are understood to be sometimes antisemitic.”

“Looking at Zionist aspirations as ‘colonialist’ would be considered a misreading of Jewish history and an affront to Judaism,” it added.