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Australian Jews Ask Anglicans to End Emphasis on Conversions

Leaders of Sydney’s Jewish community, responding to a dramatic increase in missionary activity aimed at converting Jews to Christianity, have called on the hierarchy of the Anglican Church to stop a practice they say Jews regard with “abhorrence.”

Until the 1970s, Anglicanism — previously known as the Church of England – – was Australia’s largest religion, and one in four Australians still belong to the church. Jewish-Anglican dialogue began for the first time in 1997.

At the second-ever dialogue, held here recently, Jewish Board of Deputies President Peter Wertheim told the five-person Anglican delegation that there is an “urgent need for the Anglican Church to promulgate guidelines on acceptable and unacceptable missionizing methods.”

Of particular concern to Jews in Sydney are the activities of Jews for Jesus and Kehillat ha-Moshiach, which are led by ministers with Jewish backgrounds.

The literature of the groups, which is often phrased to appeal to schoolchildren, includes insulting caricatures of Judaism as a religion that requires “fulfilment” through Christianity.

Rabbi Raymond Apple, senior minister at the Great Synagogue in Sydney, said the Anglican paper on missionizing delivered at the dialogue was “diplomatic,” but that it was “unambiguous in its presentation of the Anglican view” that a core Christian belief is that Jews should be converted to Christianity.

Although not discussed at the meeting, the Jewish community has also recently lodged complaints with the Anglican Church that textbooks in church schools teach that Jews killed Jesus, while pupils are instructed that Jews who do not accept Jews as Jesus as the messiah will go to hell.

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