Statement of Judith M. Hertz and Michael A. Signer Co-Chairs of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism on the Death of Cardinal John O'Connor
Thursday, May 4, 2000
New York, May 4, 2000 — Following the death of Cardinal John O'Connor, Judith M. Hertz and Michael Signer, co-chairs of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
At a time in our history characterized by cynicism and indifference, it is rare to find a leader whose strength and compassion touched the lives of so many, who cast such a giant shadow. Cardinal John J. O'Connor was such a leader. Throughout his lifetime, the Cardinal was a powerful force within the church he served, our nation and the world. From the moment he became the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, it was clear that the Jewish people had a unique and precious friend.
Through his years of leadership he courageously condemned anti-Semitism and undauntingly withstood assaults from many quarters for his outreach to the Jewish people. Publicly he made it clear to President Reagan that it was wrong for the President to go to Bittburg. He unhesitatingly spoke to both the Executive and Legislative branches of our government concerning the plight of Soviet Jews. He played a key role in the formalization of diplomatic ties between the Vatican and the state of Israel.
We respected the strength of his convictions and his devotion to his beliefs even in moments when our opinions diverged. May his memory continue to bless and inspire Jews and Christians as we commit ourselves to work, together, to build a more compassionate community.
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The Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism brings together the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) the North American Federation of Temple Brotherhoods/Jewish Chautququa Society (NFTB/JCS), and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR).