Yoffie, Knobel, Saperstein: These actions are contrary to Jewish values, and demonstrate an utter disregard for the tolerance and mutual understanding that are essential if people of different faiths are to live together in harmony.
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In response to the burning of copies of the New Testament by Israeli Jews in Ohr Yehuda Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Peter Knobel, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We are appalled that Jews would engage in the burning of books that are held sacred by Christians around the world. These actions are hilul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name; they should be condemned by religious people of all faiths, are contrary to Jewish values, and demonstrate an utter disregard for the tolerance and mutual understanding that are essential if people of different faiths are to live together in harmony.
We Jews remember the burning by Christians of the Talmud in 13th-century Paris and 16th-century Italy. We remember as well the book burnings in Nazi Germany. It staggers the imagination that in the year 2008, Jews would engage in actions of this type.
We share the concerns of Jews in Israel about messianic activities of Christian missionaries, but such activities must be dealt with through appropriate legal means, as determined by the laws of the State of Israel.
We are appalled that Deputy Mayor Azi Aharon would apparently make comments encouraging such acts. We call upon him to apologize immediately, and we urge rabbis of all streams in Judaism to condemn these actions and to reaffirm the bonds of friendship and respect that should mark relations between Jews and Christians throughout the world.