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World News

New inter-faith glossary hailed ‘important step’ for Jewish-Church of Scotland relations

by Heather Preston

A leading rabbi has praised the production of a new Christian-Jewish glossary, for its efforts to improve inter-faith relationships between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish community. 

The 85-page glossary of key terms was drawn up in response to friction between the two faith groups caused by a report, published by the Scottish Church and Society Council, which criticised the Jewish claim to Israel.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis visited the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2014 – the first chief rabbi to do so - and began a dialogue to encourage “a deeper appreciation for each other’s traditions, leading to greater respect and stronger bonds between our faiths.”

The glossary is the fruit of work that began then, and continued in further conversations between ministers and faith leaders.

“For a real and meaningful relationship we need to internalise how the other views itself,” Mirvis writes in the document's foreword.

“While we still have a long road to travel to understand each other more fully, and especially to better comprehend our theological approaches to Land and Covenant, an important step forward has now been taken,” he adds.

Addressing the General Assembly at the glossary’s approval meeting this month, Rabbi David Mason of Muswell Hill Synagogue, London expressed his thanks to Chief Rabbi Mirvis and to “all those within the Church leadership who never ceased to see the vital importance in this dialogue.”

“I have gained friends in the Church of Scotland... and have only grown in my affection for the Church," he said.

"This glossary has done two things. Firstly it has deepened mutual understanding surrounding the very terms that can cause discord.

"Secondly, it has offered up vocabulary, wording and understanding for both our communities, that can ensure that in expressing passionate opinions we do not offend each other.

"Harmony does not here mean that we will agree. It means that we will disagree well. We will take different approaches based on our contexts and subjective experiences – while being scrupulous in ensuring that the other is not offended," he added.


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