Chief rabbis oppose Jewish-Christian prayer service

Rabbinate says Old City interfaith ceremony on October 15 undermines both religions, and Jews must not attend

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau (L) and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.  (photo credit: Flash90)
Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau (L) and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. (photo credit: Flash90)

The Chief Rabbinate issued a statement condemning an upcoming Christian-Jewish prayer service at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, arguing that the interfaith audience and the event’s messianic content undermined both Judaism and Christianity, and called on Jews to stay away.

“It’s true that one cannot prevent the believers of any faith from praying according to their religion. However, in the case of a ceremony which aims to mix between religions in a way that harms the believers of the other religion, it must not be allowed to take place,” the statement, signed by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, published on September 16, said.

“The mutual respect between religions must be kept in a way that one religion does not harm another, and in this case, that balance is not met,” the rabbis continued.

The Chief Rabbinate statement conceded that the site was holy to all faiths, quoting a passage in Isaiah which refers to the Jewish Temple as “a house of prayer for all nations,” but insisted that the ceremony was dedicated to the resurrection of Jesus and the Christian conception of the messiah, and was therefore problematic for its Jewish participants.

The event, organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), makes no reference in its description to any Jewish participation. It states that as part of a week-long tour in honor of the Feast of Tabernacles, “we devote our final morning to seeking the Lord together in prayer for our families, churches, and nations, as well as for Israel and the Middle East region. Respected ministers from around the world will lead us in prayer, and a time will also be set aside for prayer for the sick and body ministry.”

The chief rabbis also called on the organizers to cancel the event, and on Jews to boycott it, since it “hinders Israel’s true redemption.”

The aim of the ceremony organizers is “to dig their nails in the city and the Holy Land, to disconnect our brethren from the land of life,” the chief rabbis maintained.

In concluding the statement, the rabbis reiterated that Jewish participation in the ceremony was strictly forbidden by the Torah.

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