By Rabbi Daniel Allen
Can we Jews accept love and admiration from others without suspicion? We are conditioned over centuries to be skeptics about gestures let alone explicit embrace from others telling us that we love you as Jews and wish only that you prosper. Last week I became less skeptical and less cynical having spent 4 days at Domus Galilaeae with 400 Catholics and Jews, Rabbis, Priests, Cardinals, Bishops and Catholic lay leaders from 27 countries.
We were brought together by the Neo-Catecumenal Way, a lay led very conservative movement within the Catholic world of more than two million souls. It is led by Kiko Arguello, a most fascinating fellow who is an artist, musician, writer and clearly the charismatic leader of his flock. It provides post-baptismal formation to adults who are already members of the church.
They love the Jews, honor and study our Torah, support the State of Israel and have incorporated the recitation of and belief in the Shema as central to who they are as Catholics.
To be sure we do not agree on many issues and certainly not on doctrine. Nonetheless, we studied together, dined together and prayed – if not together but at least in each other’s presence. The more than 150 Rabbis – men and women – represented the entire spectrum of our folks including Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Modern Orthodox, and Charedim. A member of the Chief Rabbinate participated as did Blu and Rabbis Yitz Greenberg, Shlomo Riskin and Jay Rosenbaum the head of the North American Board of Rabbis under whose auspices we came from America and Canada.
As North American Rabbis we chose to issue a statement from this experience. Drafted by Rabbis Michael Zedek and Gary Bretton Granatoor, we declared it publicly for any who wished to sign.
The take away message to me is that loving relationships – even between and among those about whom we were once skeptical can bring understanding and Godliness into all of our lives. If we can do so with “others” perhaps we can do it among ourselves as well.
Rabbi Daniel R. Allen is Executive Vice Chairman Emeritus of the United Israel Appeal and past President of Association of Reform Zionist of America (ARZA) and Masorti Foundation.