Rabbi Rudin releases newest book studying Christian-Jewish relations
“In the beginning were the names.
“Three names for the people of the Bible — Hebrew, Israelites and Jews. And the people were with God, and God was with the people.
“And it was good.”
So begins Rabbi James Rudin’s latest book, entitled “Christians And Jews — Faith To Faith: Tragic History, Promising Present, Fragile Future,” a probing examination of Christian-Jewish relations.
According to Rudin, a full-time resident of Sanibel since 2000, the book looks at the major issues facing both faith communities to guarantee that recent hard-earned achievements will not be lost in the tumultuous years ahead.
“This book isn’t an autobiography, although there is a little bit of me in it,” said Rudin. “The main message I wanted to convey is how we can overcome the bigotry and anti-semitism that has gone on for more than 2,000 years. Here we are in the 21st century, and we have a chance to find a way to mutual respect and understanding. That’s the key.”
In “Christians And Jews — Faith To Faith,” courageous Christian and Jewish leaders have together confronted the past in recent years. But creating this new and constructive relationship has not been easy.
Rudin explained that this extraordinary effort — coming after two millennia that were frequently filled with intolerance and distrust — reverses a tragic history and creates a new and constructive relationship between Christians and Jews.
“This is a story of two religions in conflict,” said Rudin. “And how do you overcome prejudice? You first have to look at the past.”
Rudin, the current Interreligious Affairs Director for the American Jewish Committee, has participated in 11 meetings with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He is a prolific author and a columnist for the Religion News Service/ Newhouse Newspaper Syndicate and has published articles in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Christianity Today.
His latest book, released last week, acknowledges one of his personal heroes, Cardinal John O’Connor, whom he was close friends with, as well as five other “giants of Christian-Jewish relations” — Rev. Edward Flannery, Rev. Linda Blagg Harter, Rabbi Leon Klenicki, Rabbi Michael Signer and Rabbi Murray Saltzman, former leader at Bat Yam Temple of the Islands. The book also lauds the Sanibel Public Library, as well as the New York Society Library, which provided him “superb writing areas and extraordinary research facilities.”
Culled from his more than 40 years of studying Christian-Jewish relations, the book looks at the major issues facing both faith traditions to guarantee that the recent hard-earned gains and achievements will not be lost or weakened in the difficult years ahead.
“I always hear one question: How did all of this start?'” said Rudin, who previously served as an Air Force chaplain stationed overseas. “I’ve found that dealing with religion is easier than dealing with politics. You really have to peel away a lot of layers to get to the real issues.”
Of “Christians And Jews — Faith To Faith,” Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, stated, “Rabbi Rudin has written the best guide to Jewish-Christian dialogue that I have ever seen.”
Marvin R. Wilson, Ockenga Professor of Biblical Studies at Gordon College, added, “Rudin succeeds brilliantly in laying bare the past and illuminating the present so Jews and Christians may wisely and respectfully press forward to model a more authentic relationship for the good of the other and the future of all humanity.”
“Christians And Jews — Faith To Faith: Tragic History, Promising Present, Fragile Future” is available now at bookstores throughout Sanibel and Southwest Florida as well as via several online book retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.