The Words of the Kaufmann Family

Universal Peace Federation: Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Frank Kaufmann
March 27, 2006

The recent UPF, Jewish-Christian Dialogue (Jerusalem, March 13 - 14) comes not a moment too soon. The pursuit of peace in the Holy Land, and by extension the region and world, continues to be a pressing matter for the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI, founded by Reverend Moon).

The region and the world abound with peace initiatives for the Holy Land and rightfully so. Not only for the obvious humane reasons, but further for the pressing social and geo-political realities there to which the entire world is closely tied. Each initiative has its own signature and special insight. All are urgently needed.

MEPI proceeds along a handful of core impulses that make it an indispensable partner in the shared pursuit of peace. These include full affirmation of all religions as born of God, the fact that conflict is spiritual in nature above all, and finally the effort requires broad and closely integrated collaboration among the key spheres of influence including the religious and spiritual, the political and social, the media and public education, and other centers of human striving.

This particular meeting extended a monumental moment in peace history based on spiritual leaders going to places of extreme trust and vulnerability for the sake of peace, on the formal signing of the Jerusalem Declaration, May 8, 2003. On that occasion Christian and Jewish leaders took the all but unheard of position of repenting to one another. The courage and humility of these leaders far exceeded the routine conventions and norms of polite interfaith dialogue. These leaders put the cause of peace, and true love as taught in their respective traditions above all other concerns.

This rocked heaven and earth. When the dust settled, doubts and shadow scrambled to re-divide, but the die was cast. The true relationship of Christians and Jews preferred by God had been irremovably fixed in a major historical moment.

This month's continued the work to expand this relationship of repentance, forgiveness, love and togetherness by bringing together influential scholars and leaders from both communities to tackle in a substantial way the challenges facing the growing cooperation and collaboration among believers from these two distinct communities.

20 or so leaders and scholars of approximately equal number spent a day and a half in 5 sessions of serious dialogue and discussion. Session 1 provided the occasion for self-introduction, and for all gathered to discuss in general terms the premise for the dialogue. The premise in part expresses the view that peace issues beyond Jewish-Christian relations, including peaceful relations with Muslims, requires that Jews and Christians a terrible history.

The other four sessions treated scripture, tradition, theology, and social and political implications respectively. All but the final session was deeply ground in scripture and source documents.

The scripture session took up a comparative analysis of the Jacob and Esau story; the tradition session took up a comparative analysis of the obligations of charity in each tradition. The theology session examined and discussed the doctrine that human beings are the image of God.

These sessions were rich beyond our best imagination. Once a spirit of harmony prevails, the content and inestimable of what each tradition has to offer the other, is moving. Surely all involved left far richer and wiser for the sake of their respective spiritual paths. Furthermore, the beginnings of a world-important community of leaders was forged in the intimacy of this conversation.

The final session treated social and political implications of increasing harmony and collaboration among Jews and Christians, with particular interest toward the expanded conversation to include Muslims and other religious believers, and further to apply to solutions to the situation of conflict in the Holy Land. The guidelines for this applied session urged the dialogue partners to assess the nexus and respective roles of the US, Europe, and Israelis and Palestinians in the pursuit of peace in the Holy Land.

The prominent and influential partners of this dialogue are not named as this project is meant to create an enduring and effective multi-religious of leaders. These meetings are not to create symbols of unity, nor are they to create public relations images for the MEPI.

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