|Oberammergau Still Needs Some Work
It is unfortunate that A.J. Goldmann’s “Letter from Oberammergau” leaves the reader with three inaccurate impressions: that the work of reforming the Oberammergau Passion Play is complete; that, in the words of the play’s deputy director, Otto Huber, the conversation regarding the play is akin to a “dialogue between a policeman and a criminal;” and that criticism of the play is emanating solely from Jews (“New Kind of Passion in an ‘Alpine Jerusalem,’” June 4).
First, it is true that the 2010 edition of the play is unprecedented in its positive portrayal of Jesus as one who was born, lived, taught and died as a Jew. But the play continues to raise the specter of deicide and collective guilt for the Jews in the death of Jesus, a charge dismissed by the 1965 Second Vatican Council.
Second, the American Jewish Committee, together with its partner, Germany Close Up, recently brought 15 young American Jews in their 20s and 30s to Germany for 10 days of inter-religious dialogue with young Catholic and Protestant Germans in Berlin, Munich and Oberammergau. Our three days in Oberammergau included viewing the play and ongoing conversations with Christian Stückl, the play’s director. It was not a “dialogue between a policeman and a criminal,” but rather a relationship between partners in learning and probing. We constructively criticized with respect and collegiality.
Finally, Christian scholars have joined Jewish scholars in both praising the advances of the 2010 edition as well as pointing out serious problems with this year’s rendition. Oberammergau is not an issue for Jews alone. Leading Catholic and Protestant academics contributed their criticisms to a report from the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations.
Fortunately, many Jews and Christians perceive Oberammergau as a sensitive frontline in Christian-Jewish relations worthy of our collective attention.
Rabbi Noam Marans
Associate Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations
American Jewish Committee
New York, N.Y.|