Dabru Emet Text

National Jewish Scholars Project | Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies | Baltimore, Maryland
The following statement appeared as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times, Sunday, September 10, 2000.


DABRU EMET

A Jewish Statement on Christians And Christianity

Dabru Emet image of New York Times adIn recent years, there has been a dramatic and unprecedented shift in Jewish and Christian relations. Throughout the nearly two millennia of Jewish exile, Christians have tended to characterize Judaism as a failed religion or, at best, a religion that prepared the way for, and is completed in, Christianity. In the decades since the Holocaust, however, Christianity has changed dramatically. An increasing number of official Church bodies, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, have made public statements of their remorse about Christian mistreatment of Jews and Judaism. These statements have declared, furthermore, that Christian teaching and preaching can and must be reformed so that they acknowledge God’s enduring covenant with the Jewish people and celebrate the contribution of Judaism to world civilization and to Christian faith itself.

We believe these changes merit a thoughtful Jewish response. Speaking only for ourselves — an interdenominational group of Jewish scholars — we believe it is time for Jews to learn about the efforts of Christians to honor Judaism. We believe it is time for Jews to reflect on what Judaism may now say about Christianity. As a first step, we offer eight brief statements about how Jews and Christians may relate to one another.

Jews and Christians worship the same God. Before the rise of Christianity, Jews were the only worshippers of the God of Israel. But Christians also worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; creator of heaven and earth. While Christian worship is not a viable religious choice for Jews, as Jewish theologians we rejoice that, through Christianity, hundreds of millions of people have entered into relationship with the God of Israel.

Jews and Christians seek authority from the same book — the Bible (what Jews call “Tanakh” and Christians call the “Old Testament”). Turning to it for religious orientation, spiritual enrichment, and communal education, we each take away similar lessons: God created and sustains the universe; God established a covenant with the people Israel, God’s revealed word guides Israel to a life of righteousness; and God will ultimately redeem Israel and the whole world. Yet, Jews and Christians interpret the Bible differently on many points. Such differences must always be respected.

Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel. The most important event for Jews since the Holocaust has been the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the Promised Land. As members of a biblically based religion, Christians appreciate that Israel was promised — and given — to Jews as the physical center of the covenant between them and God. Many Christians support the State of Israel for reasons far more profound than mere politics. As Jews, we applaud this support. We also recognize that Jewish tradition mandates justice for all non-Jews who reside in a Jewish state.

Jews and Christians accept the moral principles of Torah. Central to the moral principles of Torah is the inalienable sanctity and dignity of every human being. All of us were created in the image of God. This shared moral emphasis can be the basis of an improved relationship between our two communities. It can also be the basis of a powerful witness to all humanity for improving the lives of our fellow human beings and for standing against the immoralities and idolatries that harm and degrade us. Such witness is especially needed after the unprecedented horrors of the past century.

Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon. Without the long history of Christian anti-Judaism and Christian violence against Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out. Too many Christians participated in, or were sympathetic to, Nazi atrocities against Jews. Other Christians did not protest sufficiently against these atrocities. But Nazism itself was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity. If the Nazi extermination of the Jews had been fully successful, it would have turned its murderous rage more directly to Christians. We recognize with gratitude those Christians who risked or sacrificed their lives to save Jews during the Nazi regime. With that in mind, we encourage the continuation of recent efforts in Christian theology to repudiate unequivocally contempt of Judaism and the Jewish people. We applaud those Christians who reject this teaching of contempt, and we do not blame them for the sins committed by their ancestors.

The humanly irreconcilable difference between Jews and Christians will not be settled until God redeems the entire world as promised in Scripture. Christians know and serve God through Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition. Jews know and serve God through Torah and the Jewish tradition. That difference will not be settled by one community insisting that it has interpreted Scripture more accurately than the other; nor by exercising political power over the other. Jews can respect Christians’ faithfulness to their revelation just as we expect Christians to respect our faithfulness to our revelation. Neither Jew nor Christian should be pressed into affirming the teaching of the other community.

A new relationship between Jews and Christians will not weaken Jewish practice. An improved relationship will not accelerate the cultural and religious assimilation that Jews rightly fear. It will not change traditional Jewish forms of worship, nor increase intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, nor persuade more Jews to convert to Christianity, nor create a false blending of Judaism and Christianity. We respect Christianity as a faith that originated within Judaism and that still has significant contacts with it. We do not see it as an extension of Judaism. Only if we cherish our own traditions can we pursue this relationship with integrity.

Jews and Christians must work together for justice and peace. Jews and Christians, each in their own way, recognize the unredeemed state of the world as reflected in the persistence of persecution, poverty, and human degradation and misery. Although justice and peace are finally God’s, our joint efforts, together with those of other faith communities, will help bring the kingdom of God for which we hope and long. Separately and together, we must work to bring justice and peace to our world. In this enterprise, we are guided by the vision of the prophets of Israel:

It shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established at the top of the mountains and be exalted above the hills, and the nations shall flow unto it . . . and many peoples shall go and say, “Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)

Tikva Frymer-Kensky
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL
Peter Ochs
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
David Novak
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada
Michael Signer
University of Notre Dame
South Bend, IN

The phrase “Dabru Emet” comes from the verse: These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates (Zechariah 8:16). For an expanded discussion of the issues explored in Dabru Emet, see Christianity in Jewish Terms, edited by Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, Peter Ochs, and Michael Signer, Westview Press, 2000. …We wish to express our appreciation to the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies for providing the educational setting in which the work of this project has been conducted….


Signers (institutional affiliations for identification purposes)

Rabbi Ron Aigen
Congregation Dorshei Emet – Reconstructionist Synagogue of Montreal
Quebec, Canada
Rabbi Theodore R. Alexander
Congregation B’nai Emunah / Lehrhaus Judaica
San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
Bel Air, CA
Rabbi Shlomo Balter
Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel
Riverdale, NY
Dr. Leora Batnitzky
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Rabbi Donald Berlin
Rabbi Emeritus-Temple Oheb Shalom-Balt./Acting Regional Dir.-UAHC Mid-Atl. Council
Washington, DC
Rabbi Tsvi Blanchard
CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
New York, NY
Dr. David Blumenthal
Emory University
Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Steven Bob
Congregation Etz Chaim
Lombard, IL
Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton
Congregation Beit Tikvah, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Terry A. Bookman
Temple Beth Am
Miami, FL
Dr. Eugene B. Borowitz
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
New York, NY
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
New York, NY
Rabbi Herbert Bronstein
North Shore Congregation Israel
Glencoe, IL
Dr. Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus
Wheaton College
Norton, MA
Rabbi Gustav Buchdahl
Temple Emanuel
Reisterstown, MD
Rabbi Lee Bycel
The Brandeis-Bardin Institute
Brandeis, CA
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin
Baltimore, MD
Dr. Robert Chazan
New York University
New York, NY
Rabbi Samuel Chiel
Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emanuel
Newton Centre, MA
Rabbi Kenneth Cohen
Exec. Dir./Regional Dir., Seaboard Region, United Syn. For Conservative Judaism
Rockville, MD
Dr. Norman Cohen
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
New York, NY
Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld
Yale Hillel
New Haven, CT
Dr. Michael J. Cook
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Cincinnati, OH
Rabbi Neil Cooper
Congregation Beth Hillel-Beth El
Wynnewood, PA
Rabbi Barry Cytron
Director, The Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning
St. Paul, MN
Rabbi Harry K. Danziger
Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Israel
Memphis, TN
Rabbi Mona Decker
Bolton Street Synagogue
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Barry Diamond
Temple Emanu-El
Dallas, TX
Dr. Elliot Dorff
University of Judaism
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
Chicago, IL
Rabbi Joseph Edelheit
Temple Israel
Minneapolis, MN
Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz
President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Assoc.
West Orange, NJ
Rabbi Joseph H. Ehrenkranz
Executive Dir., Center for Christian – Jewish Understanding
Fairfield, CT
Dr. David Ellenson
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Jerome Epstein
CEO & Exec. Vice Pres. – United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
New York, NY
Rabbi Seymour L. Essrog
Adat Chaim Congregation
Reisterstown, MD
Rabbi Leonid Feldman
Temple Emanu-El of Palm Beach
Palm Beach, FL
Rabbi Harvey Fields
Wilshire Boulevard Temple
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Steven M. Fink
Temple Oheb Shalom
Baltimore, MD
Dr. Paul Franks
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN
Rabbi Barry Freundel
Kesher Israel Congregation
Washington, DC
Rabbi Dr. Albert H. Friedlander
Dean, Leo Baeck College – Rabbi Emeritus, Westminster Synagogue
London, United Kingdom
Rabbi Ronne Friedman
Temple Israel
Boston, MA
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Wyncote, PA
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Congregation Beth Shalom
Seattle, WA
Rabbi Laura Geller
Temple Emanuel
Beverly Hills, CA
Dr. Robert Gibbs
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada
Dr. Neil Gillman
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
New York, NY
Rabbi Gary A. Glickstein
Temple Beth Sholom
Miami Beach, FL
Rabbi Jay Goldstein
Beth Israel Congregation
Owings Mills, MD
Dr. David Gordis
Hebrew College
Boston, MA
Rabbi Sam Gordon
Congregation Sukkat Shalom
Wilmette, IL
Dr. Michael Gottsegen
CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
New York, NY
Rabbi Irving Greenberg
Pres., Jewish Life Network & Chair, United States Holocaust Memorial
Council – New York, NY
Dr. Michael R. Greenwald
St. Lawrence University
Canton, NY
Rabbi Irwin Groner
Congregation Shaarey Zedek
Southfield, MI
Rabbi Floyd Herman
Har Sinai Congregation
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Rachel Hertzman
Hillel of Greater Baltimore
Baltimore, MD
Dr. Susannah Heschel
Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
Dartmouth, NH
Rabbi Richard Hirsh
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Wyncote, PA
Dr. Lawrence A. Hoffman
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
New York, NY
Rabbi Samuel K. Joseph
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Cincinnati, OH
Rabbi Samuel Karff
Congregation Beth Israel
Houston, TX
Dr. Jan Katzew
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
New York, NY
Dr. Menachem Kellner
University of Haifa
Haifa, Israel
Dr. Steven Kepnes
Colgate University
Hamilton, NY
Dr. Edward Kessler
Executive Director, Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Rabbi Leon Klenicki
Dir., Dept. of Interfaith Affairs, Anti-Defamation League
New York, NY
Dr. Michael Kogan
MontClair State University
Charleston, SC
Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff
Temple Emanu-El, Pres. Central Conference of American Rabbis
Westfield, NJ
Rabbi Ronald Kronish
Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel
Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Irwin Kula
Pres.- CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
New York, NY
Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
North Suburban Synagogue Beth El
Highland Park, IL
Rabbi Harold Kushner
Rabbi Laureate, Temple Israel
Natick, MA
Rabbi Shira Lander
Ecumenical Institute of St. Mary’s Seminary and University
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Aaron Landes
B’nai Jeshurun
Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Nicholas de Lange
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Dr. Ruth Langer
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA
Rabbi Eric M. Lankin
New Jersey Region-United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Linden, NJ
Rabbi Barton G. Lee
Hillel Jewish Student Center – Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ
Rabbi Daniel Lehman
The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston
Waltham, MA
Rabbi Irving Lehrmann
Temple Emanu-El
Miami Beach, FL
Rabbi Alan Lettofsky
Cleveland College of Jewish Studies
Cleveland, OH
Rabbi Robert Levine
Congregation Rodeph Sholom
New York, NY
Dr. Amy-Jill Levine
Divinity School – Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
Rabbi David Lincoln
Park Avenue Synagogue
New York, NY
Rabbi Mark Loeb
Beth El Congregation
Baltimore, MD
Dr. Charles Manekin
University of Maryland – College Park
College Park, MD
Rabbi Marc Margolius
Congregation Beth Am Israel
Wynnewood, PA
Rabbi Dow Marmur
Rabbi Emeritus, Holy Blossom Temple
Toronto, Canada
Rabbi Jeffrey Marx
Sha’arei Am: The Santa Monica Synagogue
Santa Monica, CA
Rabbi Simeon J. Maslin
Congregation Keneseth Israel
Elkins Park, PA
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger
Beth El Congregation
Fort Worth, TX
Rabbi Batsheva H. Meiri
Temple Emanuel
Reisterstown, MD
Dr. Paul Mendes-Flohr
Hebrew University / University of Chicago
Chicago, IL
Rabbi Michael Menitoff
Congregation Mishkan Tefila
Chestnut Hill, MA
Rabbi Paul J. Menitoff
Central Conference of American
Rabbis – New York, NY
Rabbi Joel Meyers
Executive Vice Pres.-The
Rabbinical Assembly – New York, NY
Dr. Alan Mittleman
Dept. of Religion – Muhlenberg College
Allentown, PA
Dr. Michael L. Morgan
Indiana University
South Bend, IN
Dr. Hindy Najman
University of Notre Dame
South Bend, NY
Rabbi Daniel Nevins
Adat Shalom Synagogue/Pres., Michigan Board of Rabbis
Farmington Hills, MI
Rabbi Gavriel Newman
Beth Jacob Synagogue
Baltimore, MD
Vanessa Ochs
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
Rabbi Michael Oppenheimer
Suburban Temple-Kol Ami
Beachwood, OH
Rabbi Hayim Goren Perelmuter
Co-Dir.-Bernardin Center for Chr. And Jew. Studies at Catholic Theological Union
Chicago, IL
Rabbi Rex Perlmeter
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut
Senior Scholar-Holy Blossom Temple
Toronto, Canada
Rabbi Daniel Polish
Director, Commission on Social Action, Union of American Hebrew Congregations
New York, NY
Dr. Ronald Price
Dean, Institute of Traditional Judaism
Teaneck, NJ
Dr. Hilary Putnam
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
Dr. Ruth Anna Putnam
Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA
Rabbi Arnold Rachlis
University Synagogue
Irvine, CA
Dr. Randi Rashkover
Cleveland College of Jewish Studies
Cleveland, OH
Rabbi John Rayner
The Liberal Jewish Synagogue
London, UK
Rabbi Joel Rembaum
Temple Berth Am
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Seth Daniel Riemer
Congregation Adath Israel
Middletown, CT
Rabbi Emanuel Rose
Congregation Beth Israel
Portland, OR
Rabbi Kenneth D. Roseman
Temple Shalom – Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
Evanston, IL
Rabbi David Rosen
Anti-Defamation League
Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen
Director, Yakar
London, United Kingdom
Rabbi Gilbert Rosenthal
New York, NY
Rabbi Ronald Roth
West End Synagogue
Nashville, TN
Rabbi Peter Rubinstein
Central Synagogue
New York, NY
Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin
Chevrei Tzedek Congregation
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin
The Community Synagogue
Port Washington, NY
Dr. Norbert Samuelson
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ
Rabbi David Sandmel
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi David Saperstein
Dir., Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Washington, DC
Dr. Marc Saperstein
George Washington University
Washington, DC
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Congregation Beth – El Zedeck
Indianapolis, IN
Rabbi Dennis Sasso
Congregation Beth-El Zedeck
Indianapolis, IN
Rabbi Herman Schaalman
Emanuel Congregation
Chicago, IL
Rabbi Mark Schiftan
Congregation Ohabai Sholom
Nashville, TN
Rabbi Vivian E. Schirn
Or Hadash Reconstructionist Congregation
Ft. Washington, PA
Rabbi Harold Schulweis
Valley Beth Shalom
Encino, CA
Rabbi Sidney Schwarz
The Washington Inst. For Jewish Leadership & Values
Rockville, MD
Rabbi Kenneth I. Segel
Temple Beth Israel
Scottsdale, AZ
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller
Hillel Jewish Student Center
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Isaac Serotta
Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism
Highland, IL
Dr. Claudia Setzer
Manhattan College
New York, NY
Rabbi Charles P. Sherman
Temple Israel
Tulsa, OK
Rabbi Michael Siegel
The Anshe Emet Synagogue
Chicago, IL
Rabbi Julian Sinclair
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Rabbi Merle Singer
Temple Beth El of Boca Raton
Boca Raton, FL
Rabbi Ronald B. Sobel
Congregation Emanu-El
New York, NY
Rabbi Reena Spicehandler
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Philadelphia, PA
Rabbi Earl S. Starr
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
Seattle, WA
Rabbi Jacob Staub
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Wyncote, PA
Rabbi David Straus
Main Line Reform Temple
Wynnewood, PA
Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman
Hebrew Benevolent Congregation (The Temple)
Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Joshua S. Taub
The Temple-Congregation B’nai Jehudah
Kansas City, MO
Dr. David A. Teutsch
President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Wyncote, PA
Rabbi Lennard Thal
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
New York, NY
Dr. Geza Vermes
Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies, University of Oxford; Fellow of the British Academy
Oxford, U.K.
Rabbi Roy Walter
Temple Emanu-El
Houston, TX
Rabbi Michael Wasserman
Beth El Congregation
Phoenix, AZ
Rabbi Sheila P. Weinberg
Jewish Community of Amherst
Amherst, MA
Rabbi Martin S. Weiner
Sherith Israel Congregation
San Francisco, CA
Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg
Beth Tfiloh Congregation
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf
K.A.M. Isaiah Israel Congregation
Chicago, IL
Dr. Elliot Wolfson
New York University
New York, NY
Rabbi David Wolpe
Sinai Temple
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations
New York, NY
Rabbi Joel H. Zaiman
Chizuk Amuno Congregation
Baltimore, MD
Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman
President, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Cincinnati, OH
Dr. Laurie Zoloth
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA