There are two major personnel changes in the world of Jewish-Christian dialogue, even as meetings between representatives of the two religions continue.
On the Catholic side, Pope John Paul II has appointed German Cardinal Walter Kasper to head the Vatican’s Commission on Relations with the Jews – the Roman Catholic Church’s primary representative on Jewish issues.
With his first brief apology falling short with the Jewish community, Rev. Billy Graham issued a longer one, this time acknowledging and repudiating the anti-Semitic comments he made during a taped conversation with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office in February 1972.
“My remarks did not reflect my love for the Jewish people,” the ailing 83-year-old preacher said in a statement about the conversation with Nixon that was secretly taped 30 years ago and made public two weeks ago by the National Archives.
The Islamist rhetoric blaming Jews for the Sept. 11 attacks on America has gotten bad enough that President George W. Bush and other national and international political leaders need to counter the anti-Semites and quell the growing anxiety of Jewish citizens, says the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“President Bush should publicly put his arms around the Jewish community,” Abraham Foxman said. “Some leaders don’t think it’s serious, but as Jews we take it very seriously.”
A new dustup has hit IJCIC, the Jewish coalition group that claims to represent the world Jewish community to the Vatican. One key member, the Anti-Defamation League, has quit, even as the umbrella group officially known as the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations tries to resurrect itself in the face of sharp criticism and years of ineffectiveness.
ADL interfaith director Rabbi Leon Klenicki said the IJCIC is no longer relevant.
Last March, the group was declared dead by the Vatican’s chief interfaith official.
Prominent black leaders and activists had mixed reactions this week to a new survey by the Anti-Defamation League in which African Americans were four times more likely than whites to harbor attitudes the ADL termed “most anti-Semitic.”
Black-Jewish tensions escalated this week following the selection of the first Jewish vice presidential candidate of a major party in American history. Even as the Rev. Jesse Jackson voiced strong support for Sen. Joseph Lieberman during a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles Tuesday night, and as Lieberman met with the Congressional Black Caucus to assuage their fears about his stand on affirmative action, attacks on Lieberman came from other corners of the black community.
Charges by a mysterious CIA official that Israel recruits religious American Jews to spy on the United States has sparked outrage from several Jewish leaders and a call for a public CIA response.
The allegations were aired Sunday night on the CBS news show “60 Minutes” focusing on the case of Adam Ciralsky, a former CIA attorney who claims he was fired because of his ethnicity.
Catholics will now be able pray to a Jewish-born nun for divine intervention. That’s because on Sunday, Pope John Paul II made Edith Stein, a German-born Jewish convert to Catholicism, into an official saint of the Catholic Church.
It is the first time in history that the Vatican has elevated a Jewish convert to sainthood, said Rabbi Leon Klenicki, interfaith affairs director of the Anti-Defamation League. But the canonization of Stein, who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, has re-opened wounds in the Catholic-Jewish relationship.
Hate crimes against Jews continued across the nation this week even as political leaders from New York’s City Hall to the White House were promising stepped-up protection and renewed attempts to push tougher anti-hate and gun control laws.
The moves come in response to the shootings at a Los Angeles-area Jewish community center in which five people were wounded, including a 5-year-old boy and two 6-year-olds.