Reverend Matthew Wright of Woodstock’s St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church and I are currently teaching a class for the Lev Shalem Institute called “Judaism and Christianity: Shared Origins, Different Paths.” The class meets every Thursday from 12:15-2pm at the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, and we have five more meetings in this particular series. About 40 people are participating, a wonderful mixture of Christians and Jews. It has been so fascinating and energizing that we may decide to schedule another installment.
Faced with so many centuries of accumulated competition, mistrust, and – I must be frank – relentless Christian anti-Semitism, the fact that we are ready to engage in a mutual exploration of our common roots is heartening and exciting. As a Jew, I have many good reasons to be skeptical when Christians approach me for a discussion about faith. But I am determined to get past my own knee-jerk generalizations and prejudices about other groups of people. As I open myself to real dialogue, I continue to meet Christians who are both deeply committed to their Christian faith and deeply committed to the difficult work of transforming that faith so that it no longer needs to justify itself at the expense of the Jews. There is a sea change taking place in many parts of the Christian world in recognition of a past and a theology that need to be confronted and addressed. Of course, there are still large segments of the Christian world that remain attached to retaining the Jews as the villains and victims of their story. But many Christians are actively working to transform their tradition’s relationship to Judaism and to Jews.