REFORM JEWISH LEADERS SEEK MEETING WITH SAUDI ARABIAN CROWN PRINCE Invitation Issued for Meeting in Waco
(APRIL 19)-In an effort to create greater understanding of the North American Jewish community, the leader of the Reform Movement invited His Royal Highness Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to meet with him and the leader of the Reform congregation in Waco when the Crown Prince is in Texas next week.
In a letter to the Crown Prince, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and Rabbi Seth Mark Stander of Temple Rodef Sholom said a meeting "would be an opportunity for us to learn more about your people and your religious faith, and for you, in turn, to gain a better understanding of the American Jewish community, its religious faith, its devotion to dialogue among the major religious traditions, and its deep commitment to peace."
In a separate letter of invitation to President Bush, the rabbis wrote: "Once again, we want to thank you, Secretary Powell, and your Administration for your continued support of the State of Israel. These are dark days, and we value the friendship you have shown to Israel and her people, as well as the leadership you have provided in trying to bring an end to the violence and reconvene negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians."
In their letters, the rabbis wrote, "There have been far too few opportunities for such exchanges" and such a meeting "could highlight the positive role that religious leaders and traditions can play in overcoming the great distance that exists between the Arab nations and the Jewish people."
"We believe that the proposal put forth by the Crown Prince several weeks ago offers the possibility of moving us toward peace," the rabbis wrote, noting that the Reform Movement - the largest branch of American Judaism, encompassing over 1.5 million people and 920 congregations - believes the proposal, while open to differences, will move us forward in the effort to find a solution.
"We are encouraged that you will be meeting with President Bush in Central Texas next week, " they wrote. "Honest and respectful discussions such as you will have with the President can only enhance the mutual understanding and respect between Saudi Arabia and the United States."
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The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.