In a significant step towards enhancing inter-faith relationships between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish community, a prominent rabbi has applauded the creation of a comprehensive Christian-Jewish glossary.
The 85-page glossary seeks to foster understanding in response to a contentious report released by the Scottish Church and Society Council, which had raised concerns about the Jewish connection to Israel.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, recognized as a leading figure within the Jewish community, made history in 2014 by becoming the first chief rabbi to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Since then, he has been actively involved in fostering dialogue and promoting mutual understanding between the two faiths. The newly developed glossary represents a significant milestone in this endeavor.
The glossary has been carefully curated to include key terms and concepts from both Christian and Jewish traditions. It seeks to provide a shared vocabulary, helping to eliminate misunderstandings and promote dialogue between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish community. By promoting clarity and comprehension, the glossary strives to build stronger bonds based on respect and appreciation for each other’s traditions.
Acknowledging the importance of the glossary, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis praised its efforts to bridge the gap between the two faiths. He said in his foreword: “For a real and meaningful relationship we need to internalise how the other views itself.”
“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.
During the glossary’s approval meeting this month, Rabbi David Mason of Muswell Hill Synagogue, London, delivered a speech at the General Assembly where he expressed his gratitude to Chief Rabbi Mirvis and acknowledged the unwavering commitment of Church leaders who recognized the profound significance of this ongoing 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.
The impact of this initiative is expected to go beyond the Church of Scotland and the Jewish community. By fostering inter-faith understanding and respect, it has the potential to serve as a model for other faith groups seeking to strengthen their relationships and promote peaceful coexistence.