(JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee said a news release suggesting that they had approved of this year’s Oberammergau Passion Play was misleading.
"American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have not approved the 2010 Oberammergau Passion Play," said a statement issued jointly by Rabbi Eric Greenberg of the ADL and Rabbis Noam Marans and James Rudin of the AJC, who had consulted with the Oberammergau production team.
"After our rabbinic team met in Oberammergau with the directors and church (Catholic and Lutheran) theological advisor in October 2009, we made clear a number of issues of great concern regarding the play’s text, visual images and significant plot changes that we believe can transmit toxic anti-Jewish images and perceptions," the statement said. "We notified them about our concerns in a Nov. 4, 2009 letter, and have never received a response."
Both groups asked the producers to remove references suggesting their approval from press materials.
The most recent Oberammergau news release on the play’s Web site, dated Nov. 30, 2009, says that "Two high-ranking rabbis of the Anti-Defamation League and American Jewish Committee were consulted in order to avoid any anti-Semitic references."
The Oberammergau is a Passion play that has been staged in the Bavarian village — and featuring only its residents — every 10 years, going back to the 1600s. It is a major tourist attraction, drawing half a million viewers to its shows, which will be staged this year between May and October. Its depictions of Jews at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion were notoriously anti-Semitic.
In 1970, the village started consulting with Jewish authorities in order to tamp down anti-Jewish imagery. The efforts have had mixed success.