Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Gottlieb, a prominent Jerusalem-area spiritual leader, paid a visit this week to the Stella Maris Monastery in Haifa to deliver a message of peace and coexistence between Jews and Christians.
The visit came amidst growing concern over recent ultra-Orthodox demonstrations against Christians in Jerusalem, including local Arabic-speaking Christians, visiting Evangelical Christian Zionists, and Israeli Messianic Jews.
Rabbi Gottlieb was received Wadie Abunassar, an advisor to some churches in the Holy Land and the Honorary Consul of Spain, who had contacted the rabbi to thank him for an earlier social media clip in which Gottlieb called on fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews to stop protesting against Christians and instead look to mending their own hearts.
Rabbi Gottlieb repeated that message while visiting Stella Maris:
“I want to say to all my Jewish brothers and sisters that our mission in life is to better ourselves. If I detect something negative in another, that’s a sign that it is also within me. So heaven forbid that I attack the other. But it is my duty to look inward and fix myself.
“There will always be differences of opinion. That doesn’t mean we need to accept everyone else’s opinions or their religion, but we do need to respect one another. We are all created in God’s image, and this is what He wants. We are to love, and to bring a message of love and peace. We have to stop with this paranoid fear that if we respect another [in this case Christians] that means we are accepting and being placed on their path. That’s not true. We are all on our own path, but we must respect and love one another. That’s what God wants.”
During his meeting with Church officials, the rabbi agreed that faith cannot be complete without a better relationship between all the children of God whom He created in His image and likeness.
Sadly, as we have reported before, that message of love is almost never expressed by the local Arabic-speaking Church toward the Jewish people. And when small groups of Jews behave badly toward local Christians, the response is almost always harsh condemnation, not forgiveness and love.
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