The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC)

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The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation or CJCUC is an educational institution where Christians who tour Israel can study the Hebrew Bible with Orthodox rabbis and learn about the Hebraic roots of Christianity. The center was established in 2008 by Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin and is located in Efrat. Its mission is rooted in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord”.

History

The ideological groundwork, which lead to the eventual establishment of CJCUC in 2008, began to take shape almost 50 years beforehand. At that time, the world was still coming to terms with the aftermath of World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust.

In 1964, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the teacher and mentor of CJCUC's Chancellor & Founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, published an essay entitled “Confrontation”[1] in which he expounded his views on interfaith-dialogue and carefully drew out guidelines which permitted such a dialogue and in the view of Rabbi Riskin not only permitted it but rendered it necessary. At around the same time, fundamental ideological shifts were forming within the ranks of the Catholic Church and a year after Rabbi Soloveitchik's essay was published, The Holy See issued Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions. Nostra Aetate absolved the Jews from the Crucifixion of Jesus and admitted that religious antisemitism had a significant role in laying the foundation for the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish People.

Rabbi Riskin's academic plunge into Jewish-Christian relations began in the early 1960's when he attended seminars, held by Professor David Flusser, about the Christian Gospels at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As an orthodox Jew, he could pinpoint the parallels for Jesus' teachings within the Hebrew scripture.[2]

After settling in Efrat, Rabbi Riskin began to engage with the Christian world. Most of the Christian visitors to Efrat, those who came to hear and learn, were Evangelicals. He formed relations with Rev. Robert Stearns of Eagles' Wings and with Pastor John Hagee who struck Rabbi Riskin as a very impressive, warm-hearted and embracing man with a clear and resounding voice about his love for the Jewish Nation. When Rabbi Riskin confronted Pastor Hagee with the question about his love for the Jewish Nation; “Do you love us because you want to convert us?”, Pastor Hagee replied “I love you because of Genesis 12:3 when The Lord says to Abraham - I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. - I want to be blessed and not cursed, Rabbi.”[3]

Mission

Since its establishment in 2008, CJCUC has nurtured positive communication between two faith communities using Bible text study as the medium to accomplish the goal. The Center highlights the theological and historical significance of the Land of Israel and how the core Judeo-Christian values of sanctity of human life, peace and human dignity can impact 21st century culture and conflict.[4] CJCUC hosts Christian groups, from all over the world, for all-day seminars, which include tours of biblical sites such as nearby Jerusalem, the Path of the Patriarchs and the Herodian wells. Among the subjects that the seminar series includes are Jewish-Christian Relations; the Theology of Biblical Holidays; Covenant & Mission; The Ten Commandments; Satan, Evil & Free Will; Judaism and the Ministry of Jesus; and Human Life Created in the Image of God.

The center runs educational seminars for students and faculty of Catholic and Protestant seminaries in the United States, Canada and Europe. It has appointed North American and European directors to coordinate relations with religious leaders on these continents.

CJCUC has established a Theological Think Tank, the Institute for Theological Inquiry (ITI),[5] headed by Rabbi Eugene Korn and Dr. Robert Jenson of the Witherspoon Institute, which consists of international scholars and theologians whose tasks are to clarify areas of Jewish and Christian theological agreement and disagreement,[6] as well as identify areas of fruitful cooperation. The topics focus on past and present Jewish-Christian Relations, Covenant, Salvation, Biblical Hermeneutics, Religion and Violence, Ethical Monotheism and Messianism.

CJCUC has received funds from Israel's Hertog family, Paul Singer Foundation, Zion's Gate International Foundation, Ministry of Justice and John Hagee Ministries to help accomplish its mission.

Accomplishments

CJCUC accomplishments include:

  • Taking Latin American Priests and rabbis to learn the fundamentals of Jewish-Catholic relations in the backdrop of the Holy Land.[7][8]
  • Sponsoring an interfaith Latin American clergy mission which visited the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, donating supplies to wounded Syrian civil war refugees.[9][10]
  • It created the first food voucher program to help financially disadvantaged Christian Arabs living in the Land.
  • CJCUC has partnered with CUFI to bring over 150 Evangelical pastors from the U.S. to learn the fundamentals of Jewish-Christian relations.[11]
  • In January 2012, CJCUC received the honorary title of Goodwill Ambassador for Jewish-Christian Relations from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his letter, the prime minister writes: ”I believe you are uniquely suited to be an Ambassador of Goodwill for the State of Israel to strengthen relations between Jews and Christians throughout the world. I know that you will continue to promote understanding between Jews and Christians in a spirit of mutual respect that will enable both to work together to better mankind.”
  • It has facilitated and sponsored a Yale University student group consisting of Orthodox Jewish and Evangelical Christians to learn the fundamentals of Jewish-Christian relations.[12]
  • CJCUC is on the official body between the Holy See and the Jewish people via IJCIC.[13] In June 2013, CJCUC's Academic Director, Rabbi Eugene Korn along with other members of the organized Jewish establishment, met with Pope Francis.[14]
  • CJCUC's Executive Director, David Nekrutman, is the first Orthodox Jewish student to be accepted into ORU's Theology program.[15] He was the first Orthodox Jew to speak at Church Of God In Christ (COGIC) conference and discuss the importance of visiting Israel. In April 2012, he was the main speaker at CUFI's first international event in Nairobi where over 1,500 Africans attended to support Israel.

References

  1. Confrontation, Tradition 6:2 p5-9, 1964. Reprinted in "A Treasury of Tradition", Hebrew Publishing Co, NY, 1967.
  2. Shabat HaGadol – translated from Hebrew – page 15
  3. Shabat HaGadol – translated from Hebrew – page 18
  4. CJCUC Statement on a Jewish Understanding of Christians and Christianity - Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations - May 24, 2011
  5. CJCUC Announces the Publication of Covenant & Hope - standardnewswire.com - August 10, 2012
  6. Covenant and Hope - Christian and Jewish Reflections - Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. - July 2012
  7. Priestly Blessings - The Jerusalem Post - March 10th, 2012
  8. WJC co-sponsors Israel trip of Latin American priests - worldjewishcongress.org - March 1, 2013
  9. Latin American clergy mission visits Syrian refugees in Israeli hospital - jns.org - May 19th, 2014
  10. Latin American clergy visit Syrian refugees in Israeli hospital - The Bristol Press - May 23rd, 2014
  11. Jews and Christian Evangelicals work to improve communication - Deseret News - June 28, 2012
  12. HHCC Makes Statement on Christian-Jewish Relations - hebraiccenter.org - May 23, 2011
  13. CJCUC Joins IJCIR As Partner - Christian Newswire - March 29, 2011
  14. Pope Francis meets the Jewish delegation - Israel Diplomatic Network - embassies.gov.il - June 24, 2013
  15. Oral Roberts University - Excellence Magazine - Spring 2014 Edition - page 13

External links

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