The Greek Church and the Jews

By Jerome S. Kaufman

www.israel-commentary.org

Last week I decided to attend the funeral services of a friend of mine. He was a good guy, always kind to me but to be honest, I think I was simply following Yogi Berra’s advice when he declared that he attended his friends’ funerals in the hope that they would attend his!

I sat quietly listening, in the very impressive ornate Greek church, to the somber melodious  Greek chant coming from the deep voice of the huge Greek priest and I tried not to fall asleep – like I do in my own synagogue services.

Then my ears suddenly perked up when the priest lapsed into a bit of the English translation.  I heard him say something about Jesus and how he told the Jews to follow his teachings. Huh!

Excuse me, but what has Jesus and the Jews got to do with this funeral service and how did this priest know what Jesus said to the Jews? And, what could it have possibly been anyway, except the same vile anti-Semitic distribe and lies that have permeated the Roman Catholic churcn, the Eastern Orthodox  churches  and the Protestant churches of Martin Luther and John Calvin for the  past near 2000 years?

Then I told myself, please don’t get excited.  Just Google, The Greek Liturgy and the Jews,  and see what comes up.  Sure enough, at the top of the list was the article quoted below confirming my worst suspicions.

But, before we read the Greek article, please let us happily acknowledge that within the last 50 years there have been major Catholic Church changes and admonitions against the preaching of Jew-hatred by the Church and its officials.

In fact, after centuries of perpetual hatred, formal dialogue between Roman Catholics and Jews began about 50 years ago, with the Vatican’s 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration. The declaration finally and formally repudiated the charge that Jews were collectively responsible for killing Jesus and stressed the religious bond between Jews as the big brothers of the Church.

Also of note is the fact that the Jews’ dedication to monotheism pre-dated that of the Christians by over 3000 years and it was adopted by the Church as a result of the teachings of a Jewish carpenter named  Jesus Christ.

DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS, NOSTRA AETATE, PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON OCTOBER 28, 1965.

Thirty five years later, Israeli Jews were treated to an official visit by the very kind, empathetic Pope John Paul II who had actually lived with and through the horrific World War II  killing of the Jews by the Poles,  the Germans and with the enthusiastic support of almost all of the rest of Europe.

Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel, March 21, 2000, for a historic five-day visit, during which he visited the holy sites of the three major religions and met with Israel’s political leaders and Chief Rabbis. His Yad Vashem speech was viewed as the inspiring  climax of John Paul’s great efforts to reconcile Christians and Jews.

There is no doubt that the Vatican Declaration of Nostra Aetate and the very personal involvement and preaching of Pope John Paul II has had a major positive effect upon most Roman Catholics. They are no longer blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus Christ nor are they heaping upon the Jews whatever other calumnies  are in fact, their own responsibility.

Finally, to the article on the Greek liturgy that had perked up my ears:

PRIESTS DEMANDED  TO REMOVE ANTI-SEMITIC LITURGY

Exclusive: Jews called ‘God-killers’ in Orthodox sects’ Easter prayer services.

BY ETGAR LEFKOVITS APRIL 20, 2007

April 20, 2007, A group of 12 Orthodox priests have called on their Eastern Orthodox  Churches to review its longstanding theological positions toward Jews and the State of Israel, and to excise anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy.

The dissident priests made their demands in a 12-point declaration adopted during a weeklong visit to Israel that is meant to spur debate in the Eastern Orthodox Christian world and to challenge centuries-old anti-Semitic views.

“Sadly, there are some Orthodox Christians who propagate disgusting anti-Semitism under the banner of Orthodoxy, which is incompatible with Christianity,” said Rev. Innokenty Pavlov, professor of theology at Moscow’s Biblical Theological Institute.

“We have to raise our voices and call on Orthodox laity and the Church leadership to formulate an official position of the Orthodox Church toward our relations with Judaism, as it was formulated a few decades ago by the Catholic Church,” he added, referring to the Second Vatican Council of 1962 to 1965.

The 10-page declaration issued Thursday calls for the renunciation of replacement theology and the removal of anti-Semitic passages from Church liturgy – particularly Easter services – and endorses the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

The passages appear in the standard Orthodox liturgy all over the world. The dozen Orthodox priests who signed the declaration – some in open defiance of directives from church leadership – represent five different Orthodox churches, including the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Georgian and Ecumenical Orthodox Churches. “We came to the firm belief that it is high time for the Orthodox Church to correct its attitude toward Jews and Judaism,” the declaration states.

Unlike the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church has never removed anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy, which still refers to Jews as Christ killers, said Dr. Dmitry Radyehsvky, director of the Jerusalem Summit, a conservative Israeli think tank that co-sponsored the visit.

He said the anti-Semitic passages were most conspicuous during Easter services, and included statements such as “the Jewish tribe which condemned you to crucifixion, repay them, Oh Lord,” which is repeated half a dozen times, and “Christ has risen but the Jewish seed has perished,” as well as references to Jews as “God-killers.”

“Orthodox Christianity lives up to its name: it’s extremely conservative – even more than Catholicism,” Radyehsvky said. “For them to even pose the question about the need to throw out Judophobic passages from the liturgy, which were there for 1,500 years, is a revolution,” he said.

Radyshevsky said that while some of the best Orthodox Christian philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries, like Vladimir Soloviev and Sergiy Bulgakov, were philosemites, it never filtered down to the masses.

Now, however, some Orthodox Christian intellectuals feel their church needs revival and that this has to start with their roots: reconciliation with the Jews. “It is high time to start the dialogue between Orthodox Christianity and Judaism,” said Rev. Ioann Sviridov, editor-in-chief of the Russian Christian radio-station Sophia.

“In light of rising anti-Semitism and other manifestations of nationalism in Russia, our church has to respond to this ugly phenomena and review some of the aspects of its relations with Jews and Judaism,” he said.

(I love the demands above but,  from my own last week’s experience at the local Greek Church, they  seem to have fallen upon deaf ears)  jsk

One final aside — I never could really understand another indisputable  “achievement” of the  Greeks during WWII.

From: The Jewish-Greek Tragedy during the Holocaust — The Illusion of Safety.

By Curt Leviant

The first book of a four part series depicts the Greek Jews under 3 Zones of German occupation during WW II —  German, Bulgarian and Italian. “Although the Bulgarians protected their Jews, in the Greek zone this benevolence was set aside. The Greeks  deported 11,000 Jews to concentration camps and only 2200 survived!  In the Italian zone, Jews were not persecuted and racial laws were ignored.

One can’t wonder whether or not the mindless poison pouring out of the sermons of Eastern Orthodox Churches, to this very day,  had anything to do with these damning statistics?

Jerome S. Kaufman, Editor/Publisher

Israel Commentary

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