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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Rabbi Yoffie: 'Time for peace'

 Eric H. Yoffie
The first “non-Christian” to greet an ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie began by affirming our common work of “creating an earthly home for the Divine Presence” and “advancing the cause of justice.”

President of the Union for Reform Judaism, Yoffie then moved to issues of the Middle East, saying the 920 synagogues and 1.5 million Jews he represents are committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Palestinians must have a state,” Yoffie said. “For peace to be achieved, territorial compromise will be required of Israel and unconditional acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state will be required of the Palestinians. ...

“We see that the Palestinian people are in pain. And we understand that without dignity for the Palestinians, there can be no dignity for Israel.

“At the same time, we know that if anything is evil, terror is evil ... it must always be called by its name. It is not ‘insurgency’ or even ‘killing civilians.’

“Now is the time for Israelis and Palestinians to look through each other’s eyes for an instant, and to take that critical step for peace. ... Now is the time for terror to stop and settlement building to stop. Now is the time for all of us to see that we can achieve through peace what none of us will ever achieve through violence.”

Ecumenical greetings:

• Deborah DeWinter
, program executive for the U.S., World Council of Churches: “We are discovering that together we can live into God’s gift of unity in an enhanced way.”

• Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.: “Wow! It’s really exciting to be here. I’m United Methodist by background and training. [The just-approved interim eucharistic sharing agreement with the United Methodist Church] means we can now nail things to the church door enthusiastically with our hearts strangely warmed! ... It’s a pleasure to see your spirit, energy and enthusiasm. ... You have learned that your mission and ministry multiply when you join hands with others ... so diverse we can only be united by our common Lord.”

• Robert Sawyer
, president, Moravian Church in America-Southern Province: “My greetings are not casual nor perfunctory. They’re more like those to Mary from the angel. ... Be not afraid for you have found favor with God .... We are marked with the cross of Christ forever as the basis of our power and our witness.”

• Robina Winbush, ecumenical officer, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), representing the churches of the Reformed tradition (PCUSA, the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ): “We are among the wealthiest churches in the wealthiest country. We must find ways together [to help create] a just, global economic order.”

• Thomas Ferguson, associate deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, the Episcopal Church: “We are in solidarity as churches as we face challenges ... in evangelism, the renewal of worship resources and in questions of sexuality. ... Know that we stand with you.”


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