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December 06, 1991 - Image 103

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-12-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

T echnion
.Capitall __,Ig

1 1 1 1
Conclave II 1 1


Soviet Church Leader
Calls For Talks

New York (JTA) — The
head of the Russian Or-
thodox Church, calling for
greater cooperation between
his faith and the Jewish
people, has invited a delega-
tion of Jewish leaders to
visit Moscow to establish a
formal dialogue.
Aleksy II, patriarch of
Moscow and primate of the
Russian Orthodox Church,
which claims some 70 mill-
ion adherents, also con-
demned anti-Semitism dur-
ing meetings here recently
with Jewish leaders.
"The hierarchy, clergy and
theologians of our church
decisively and openly con-
demn any manifestation of
anti-Semitism, hostility, as
well as pogroms against
Jews," he told Orthodox,
Conservative and Reform
rabbis at a meeting

"We hope to
achieve the
understanding and
help of our Jewish
brothers and
sisters, in order to
build up, through
joint efforts, a new
democratic, free,
open and just

here organized by the Ap-
peal of Conscience Founda-
tion, an ecumenical group of
religious and business
leaders dedicated to pro-
moting religious freedom
around the world.
Acknowledging that pop-
ular anti-Semitism exists in
the Soviet Union, he faulted
the "difficult time of crisis,
disintegration, and growth
of national separatism and
ethnic chauvinism."
"The task of the Russian
Church," he said, is to help
our people overcome this."
"We hope to achieve the
understanding and help of
our Jewish brothers and
sisters, in order to build up,
through joint efforts, a new
democratic, free, open and
just society."
According to Rabbi Arthur
Schneier, president of the
foundation, Aleksy II's
remarks are "the most com-
prehensive statement and
stand" on anti-Semitism
made by any of the three
Russian Orthodox Church
primates he has known.
Rabbi Schneier stressed
that the patriarch's remarks
will be disseminated in the

Soviet Union through the
church's publications and
through Tass, the national
news service.
"The-most we can ask of a
leader is to give direction
clearly and without ambigu-
ity," he said.
Not all who listened to the
primate's remarks were
completely satisfied,
Martin Wenick, executive
director of the National Con-
ference on Soviet Jewry, said
that in citing more than a
dozen Orthodox Church
leaders who protected Jews
through different historical
periods, the primate seemed
to "gloss over history, both
in the czarist and postwar
"The church was part and
parcel of the czarist regime,
which confined Jews to the
`pale of settlement,' and was
certainly not a major force.
for Jewish rights in the last
century," said Mr. Wenick.
"I would like to have heard
in more detail precisely how
the church plans to move
forward in building
tolerance," he said.
During a separate meeting
with Edgar Bronfman, pres-
ident of the World Jewish
Congress and newly elected
chair of the International
Jewish Committee on Inter-
religious Consultations,
Aleksy II invited IJCIC to
visit Moscow and begin the
formal dialogue process.
Five IJCIC represent-
atives are expected to go to
Moscow in January.
It will be the first formal
dialogue ever established
between Jews and the Rus-
sian Orthodox Church, said
Elan Steinberg, executive
director of the WJC.
"To set up a relationship
with them is a
breakthrough. It opens up
new vistas," said Dr. Leon
Feldman, secretary of IJCIC,
which represents world
Jewry in dealings with the
Vatican and other religious
During his visit to New
York, the patriarch also met
with Jewish, Catholic, Prot-
estant and government
leaders under the auspices of
the Appeal. of Conscience
Plans for a future con-
ference on tolerance in
Moscow, to be conducted by
the church, the foundation
and other Soviet religious
communities, were discussed
during their meetings, Mr.
Schneier said.

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