Chief Rabbi rebukes Church of England antisemitism report for not addressing evangelicals who try to convert Jews

He says the issue can 'diminish the basis of trust'


The Chief Rabbi has rebuked a Church of England document which admits Christianity’s role in “compounding and spreading” antisemitism, criticising its failure to reject evangelicals who target Jews for conversion.

A document published on Thursday, entitled God’s Unfailing Word, addresses Christian teachings which provided a “fertile seed-bed for murderous antisemitism,” and urges Anglicans to actively challenge hatred of Jews.

It is the first authoritative statement on antisemitism and relations with the Jewish community issued by the England’s established church, conceding that Christianity helped to foster antisemitism which led to the Holocaust.

But, while he welcomed the document, the Chief Rabbi expressed his “substantial misgiving” over its failure to reject the historic targeting of Jews for conversion to Christianity.

In his afterword to the report, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said that it meant “even now, in the 21st century, Jews are seen by some as quarry to be pursued and converted”.

He wrote: “The enduring existence within the Anglican Church of a theological approach that is permissive of this behaviour does considerable damage to the relationship between our faith traditions, and, consequently, pursuing a comprehensive new Christian-Jewish paradigm in this context is exceptionally challenging.

“It is as though we are jointly building an essential new structure, while simultaneously a small part of the construction team is deliberately destabilising the building’s very foundations, thereby undermining confidence in the structural integrity of the whole edifice.

“The real impact of this upon prospective Jewish participants in our interfaith dialogue is, inevitably, to diminish the basis of trust that is so integral to the relationship.

“Any suspicion that our engagement is being directed by a purpose other than the betterment of our mutual understanding and a necessary contribution to the common good is harmful and takes us sharply backwards.”

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said he would take the Chief Rabbi’s “challenge of his afterword with immense seriousness”, pledging to reflect on “any sense that we target Jewish people”.

He added: “The Chief Rabbi has opened, with characteristic honesty and affection, a challenge upon which we must reflect. We cannot do that reflection honestly until we have felt the cruelty of our history.

“What even this brief exchange with the Chief Rabbi highlights is that the work of Christian–Jewish relations is not finished, and that this teaching document should spur us towards more and deeper encounters where we can hear and understand each other.”

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