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Orthodox Rabbis Condemn Regent Inter-faith Dialogue in Jerusalem

March 16, 1976
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Two leading Orthodox rabbis have condemned the recent interfaith dialogue held in Jerusalem between a Vatican delegation and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, which is headed by another prominent Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, Chancellor of Bar Ilan University.

In a statement issued here, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, charged that the dialogue was “chilul hashem” (disgrace of God’s name) and said he was amazed that rabbis in Israel “instead of voicing a strong protest against the bringing of a new idolatry in the Holy Land, met personally with the delegation from the Vatican.”

Rabbi Feinstein’s view was supported by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, of Boston, who said he was deeply disappointed that the dialogue with the Vatican group was welcomed in Israel with great “enthusiasm.”


The Union of Orthodox Rabbis also issued a statement explaining why it refused to participate in the second World Conference on Soviet Jewry held in Brussels last month. The chief reason given was that the organization does “not participate in such public international conferences where the Torah word does not dominate.” The Brussels conference, they said, was “dominated by a secular spirit.” But the statement implied the view that the Brussels conference may not have been the correct means to attack the problem of Soviet Jewry.

It said in part: “The Jewish problem in Soviet Russia is extremely complicated. Any careless action, in whichever form it may be, by not taking in consideration the various aspects and further consequences, is a question of life or death for millions of Jews. It does not necessarily mean that a method of rescue which proves effective in one country, can also be effective in Soviet Russia…. Sometimes the rescue lies in strong protests and sometimes in silence.,..”

The statement also stressed that “Not once have we appealed to the leadership of Soviet Russia, and we reiterate our humanitarian and warm request: to permit the opening of yeshivas and Hebrew schools, thereby enabling a religious education for the Jews in Russia. We demand free emigration for every Jew in Russia who wants to emigrate, to whichever country it may be.”

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