April 7, 2020
Both the technology and the friendship were unthinkable a century ago – a Roman Catholic cardinal in midtown Manhattan and a Conservative rabbi in another state, laughing, reflecting, and speaking to an audience watching around the globe during the Holy Week that includes Easter and Passover.
But on the eve of Passover, that modern miracle unfolded when New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, logged on to Zoom to share how their respective faith traditions are guiding them through the coronavirus pandemic. The live video conversation was part of a series of digital programs AJC has developed as part of its new Advocacy Anywhere initiative.
“We say in the Psalms, ‘How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity,’” Marans said. “That wasn’t always the case during Holy Week between Christians and Jews. And here we are as if it’s no big deal.”
AJC played a key role in transforming Christian-Jewish relations through its advocacy with the Catholic Church in the 1960s before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council. The Council produced Nostra Aetate, a ground-breaking document that contradicted the longtime common teaching that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.
The cardinal said Passover events with the Jewish community have become a routine part of his Holy Week celebrations.
Most of those have taken on a virtual appearance as large gatherings have been strongly discouraged and houses of worship remain closed during the pandemic. That’s not to way the church with a capital C has shut down though, Dolan said.
“People only seize on the fact that the church buildings are closed. That doesn’t mean the Church ‘capital C’ or Jewish faith ‘capital F’ are closed,” he said. “They are more radiant than ever, through works of charity and healthcare.”
In addition to charity, both religious traditions also offer teachings and guidance to make sense of what’s happening. Marans said the Jewish faith teaches there are things in the world we can control and things we can’t.
“Terrible things are going to happen,” he said. “We’re never going to be able to fully explain why that is. We can’t just put it on God’s shoulders, proverbially. Our role as human beings is how we respond to that, how we rise to the occasion; how it makes us better; how, when we reach out to our fellow human being, we are doing God’s work.”
Advocacy Anywhere is a new platform that will enable you to engage with AJC’s leading expertise, content, and advocacy opportunities from wherever you are, using cutting-edge technology.