Rabbi Is 1st Jew to Address Synod

Calls It a Sign of Hope and Love

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2008, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The first Jew to ever address a world Synod of Bishops says his participation in the meeting of Church leaders is a sign of hope for progress in Jewish-Catholic relations.



Shear Yashuv Cohen, chief rabbi of Haifa, said this today after he participated in the afternoon session of the synod's first working day. The rabbi, who is the co-chairman of the Jewish-Catholic bilateral commission, entered the Synod Hall together with Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary-general of the synod, said last week that it was "logical" to invite to an assembly on the word of God a Jewish representative.

"There is a long, hard and painful history of the relationship between our people, our faith, and the Catholic Church leadership and followers -- a history of blood and tears," Cohen said. "I deeply feel that my standing here before you is very meaningful.

"It brings with it a signal of hope and a message of love, co-existence, and peace for our generation, and for generations to come."

Explaining the role of Scripture in the Jewish faith, the rabbi said: "We pray God using is own words, as related to us in the Scriptures. Likewise, we praise him -- also using his own words from the Bible.

"We ask for his mercy -- mentioning what he has promised to our ancestors and to us. Our entire service is based upon an ancient rule, as related to us by our rabbis and teachers: 'Give him of what is his, because you and yours are his.'"

He said that rabbis use Scripture to address issues of concern, such as life, secularism, love and peace.

"Our point of departure stems from the treasures of our religious tradition, even while we endeavor to speak in a modern and contemporary language and address present issues," Cohen said. "It is amazing to observe how the holy Scriptures never lose their vitality and relevance to present issues of our time and age.

"This is the miracle of the everlasting and perpetual word of God."