Historically, the Reform Jewish Movement has been the leading body within the Jewish religious community committed to the development of effective interreligious relationships so that diverse faith groups may live together in harmony in our unique society and work cooperatively in the pursuit of social justice based on the prophetic ideals that spring from our common heritage.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations has been deeply involved with our counterparts within the Protestant and Catholic communities in the civil rights movement, and in the preservation of religious freedom, the protection of civil liberties, and the struggle to gain economic justice and equality before the law for minorities and women. Considerable resources have also been devoted to the creation of programs and educational materials to help clergy and congregants reach other religious groups in order to eliminate the misunderstandings and prejudices of the past.
In recent years, with the fragmentation of the civil rights movement, there has been a diminution of this interreligious involvement. The Jewish community, too, tended to focus primarily on such challenges as the preservation of Israel, the issues of Soviet Jewry and Ethiopian Jewry, and internal Jewish problems.
It is now clear that intensive moral and social issues have surfaced, which are leading toward a renaissance of interreligious communication and cooperation. The emergence of the Moral Majority and extremist attacks on the United States Constitution, the profound suffering engendered by economic problems, growing concern for peace within the religious community, especially regarding the morality of the nuclear arms race--these and many other factors are now lifting the interreligious dimension of social action to a higher level of urgency. Issues such as growing poverty, unemployment, abortion rights, the right of review of federal courts, scientific creationism, prayer in the schools, cult and missionary activities, and adult education programs in human sexuality are increasingly being addressed by interreligious coalitions of concern. Social service projects such as hospice programs, food pantries, health services, and housing the homeless also require interreligious cooperation. Conflict situations in the local community can often be resolved by various religious groups acting together.
There is a critical need for the development of interreligious coalitions, communication, and cooperation on the national and local levels.
The crisis in Lebanon has also focused attention on the need to create better understanding in the Christian community of the place of Israel in Jewish tradition. There is need for renewed commitment to the development of joint approaches to eliminate anti-Semitism, racism, and sexism, based on our common religious commitments.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Union of American Hebrew Congregations:
- Renews the commitment of Reform Judaism to effective interreligious relationships by making this a priority item on the Reform agenda and providing the necessary resources therefor; and
Urges each member congregation to:
- Create a Task Force on Interreligious Relationships to work cooperatively with or within the Commission on Social Action in establishing ongoing communication with other religious groups and developing coalitions of mutual concern regarding the issues confronting us;
- Support Congregations in Dialogue, a leadership training program in dialogue for clergy and lay leaders in local committees, which is co-sponsored by the UAHC Department of Interreligious Affairs and the United Methodist Church, in cooperation with the National Council of Churches; and
- Sponsor interreligious conferences for Jewish and Christian clergy and religious educators to develop better understanding of each other's faith.