Jewish and Catholic scholars are upset over the affirmations of the Vicar General of Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch in a recent Famiglia Cristiana interview
Those who know and respect monsignor William Shomali, the Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, were surprised and disturbed by his declarations on the Talmud and on Israeli education in the September 30 issue of Famiglia Cristiana. Commenting on recent episodes of vandalism against Christian holy places by Jewish extremists, he claimed “hatred of Christians” was taught in Israeli schools and the Talmud itself.
“The Talmud, the holy book studied by the ultra-orthodox, more highly venerated than the Bible itself, invites religious hatred, speaks badly of Jesus, and even worse of Mary and, in general, of Christians” he said, adding that “in Israeli schools love for the other is not taught but rather the destruction of the other”.
These blanket, defamatory generalizations produced consternation in Israeli political representatives, Jewish religious authorities and friends engaged in interreligious dialogue. While unanimously condemning the criminal acts committed by a small group of Jewish extremists and “hoodlums” against Christian sites, and calling for action to apprehend the culprits and impede recurrence, they strongly objected to the content of Bishop Shomali’s assertions.
Rabbi David Rosen, the Jerusalem based International Interreligious Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee sought firstly, to correct Bishop Shomali’s misconception of the role of the Talmud in Jewish life.
“Contrary to the age old canard that has been popular among those Christians who have denigrated Judaism over the centuries” he says, “the Talmud is not ‘more highly venerated than the Bible itself’ and it is not even a ‘holy’ book for Jews’ but rather the all- important compendium of commentaries and debates on the principles and precepts of the Bible and the traditions expounding the latter.”
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