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Serbian Orthodox Church Reaches out to Jewish Community

The Serbian Orthodox Church, anxious to make amends for a grossly anti-Semitic article in the most recent issue of its magazine “Pravoslaulje” (Orthodoxy), may cleanse its religious textbooks of provocatively anti-Semitic references.

The church synod has apologized for publishing a piece titled “Jews are Crucifying Christ Again” in last month’s edition of the Patriarchate’s publication and has announced the dismissal of its editor in chief.

The article maintained that the intolerance of outsiders displayed by certain ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim quarter is endemic to Israelis and that Jews generally are anti-Christian.

Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, invited the president of the Belgrade Jewish community, Jasa Almuli, and some of his associates to a conference, at which the patriarch expressed the church’s deepest regrets over the article and assured his guests that the synod is not anti-Semitic.

The conference also produced an agreement to establish a joint committee to review the religious education texts about to be introduced in Serbia in order to eliminate material likely to arouse intolerance and anti-Semitism.

The patriarch also expressed the synod’s willingness to establish a branch of the International Council of Christians and Jews in Serbia. It is active in 38 countries.

Almuli, speaking for the Jewish community, said the church’s attitude removed any obstacle to continued ecumenical discourse.

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