In a story that is positive and uplifting, Rabbi Adam Stein, associate rabbi of Vancouver’s Congregation Beth Israel, wrote a piece in Canada’s Anglican Journal, which describes itself as the largest faith-based publication in North America. In the article, Stein describes his engagement with national leaders of the Anglican movement as the church has reviewed its liturgy around Judaism and Jewish people. Stein was representing the Canadian Rabbinical Council, a cross-denominational group under the auspices of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. (Click here for article.)
While the slow machination of the church’s processes means it won’t be official until at least 2022, the recent General Synod of the church approved the replacement of a prayer for the conversion of the Jews with a prayer for reconciliation with the Jews. The move is monumental in the context of Jewish-Christian relations. The idea that Christianity is a replacement theology to Judaism – and that Jews should convert or disappear, with all that implies – prevailed for nearly 2,000 years. At heart, it is a negation of the Jewish people’s right to exist and, indeed, at times in history, conversion or death were the two choices Jews were offered.
The two-millennia history of conflict, supercessionism and religious-based antisemitism went almost unchallenged until the 1960s, when the Roman Catholic church underwent a revolutionary reconsideration of many aspects of its theology, including its relations with Jews. Since then, other branches of Christianity have taken leads of varying sorts in addressing their own histories of oppression directed at Jews, as well as at women, indigenous people and communities, LGBTQ+ people and others.
The generosity of spirit evidenced by Canadian Anglicans – and the obviously heartfelt expression of gratitude in Rabbi Stein’s written reflections on the issue – are a welcome ray of light and warmth in a world that too often seems lacking in these elements.