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Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism Welcomes Pope’s Comments on Ending Violence in the Middle East

Contact:Alexis Rice or Julie Silverman 202-387-2800

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2002 - In response to Pope John Paul II's recent statement about peace in the Middle East, Rabbi Michael Signer, Co-Chair of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs, issued the following statement:

As the terrible bloodshed and violence continues in the Middle East, we are encouraged by Pope John Paul II's recent pledge to help work for a just and sustained peace in the Holy Land.

During his meeting last week with Rabbi Michael Melchior, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, and Sheikh Talal Sidr, the Minister of State of the Palestinian Authority, the Pope publicly reaffirmed the Catholic Church's commitment to bringing an end to the destructive violence that has plagued Israel over the past eighteen months. Although the daily reports of violence and bloodshed may cloud our hopes for a peaceful resolution, the Pope reminds us that "[o]ur mission as men and women of religion impels us to pray for peace, to proclaim peace, and to do everything in our power to help bring an end to the bloodshed."

The Pope's comments echo the "First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land," an important statement signed by Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders during last January's historic three-day interfaith conference in Alexandria, Egypt at which the religious leaders from the region pledged to use their religious and moral authority to work for a just and lasting peace.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) , whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis .



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