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Catalyst October Issue 2000

A formidable group of Jewish scholars and rabbis—some 170 in all—have signed a document that says, “Nazism was not a Christian phenomenon.”  While they acknowledge that Christian anti-Semitism paved the way for the Nazis, they clearly state, “Nazism itself was not an inevitable outcome of Christianity.”

The document, “A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity,” also argues that “If the Nazi extermination of the Jews had been fully successful, it would have turned its murderous rage more directly to Christians.”  It was published on September 10 in the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

The four scholars who drafted the document are all from different Jewish denominations.  Dr. Tikva Frymer-Kensky is a professor at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago; Dr. David Novak teaches at the University of Toronto; Dr. Peter W. Ochs is a professor at the University of Virginia; and Dr. Michael A. Singer teaches at the University of Notre Dame.  The eight-point appreciation of Christianity that they wrote was the result of a project they began in the mid-1990s at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore.

Dr. Novak explained that the document was written because “major Christian groups and thinkers have in the past 30 or 40 years come up with a major rethinking about Jews and Judaism and have issued statements about how they can respect the legitimacy of Judaism.  It seems to us to behoove Jewish thinking to respond accordingly.”

Dr. Donohue sent a letter to each of the four scholars expressing his gratitude for the statement, letting them know that the Catholic League can be counted on to fight anti-Semitism.


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Written by Bill