Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations
Members of the Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations are appointed by the presiding bishop of the ELCA in order to enhance awareness and provide consultation on Lutheran-Jewish relations in this church.
The Consultative Panel is responsible for the construction of the 1994 ‘Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America to the Jewish Community’ in which this church repudiated Luther’s anti-Semitic writings. Consultative Panel members also developed ‘Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations’ and ‘Talking Points: Topics in Christian-Jewish Relations’ in order to foster in Lutherans and ecumenical partners sensitivity to Jewish-Christian relationships both in North America and abroad.
The Consultative Panel was established in the early 1990’s and is heir to faithful work by Lutherans since the 1960’s. From then to now, the history of Jewish-Christian relations is investigated, common misinterpretations of Judaism are combated, and areas of potential cooperation are identified. In recent years, Christian-Jewish dialogue calls attention to aspects of the biblical and Christian tradition that are underappreciated. When Christians and Jews see one another as siblings this produces new opportunities for cooperation in local, national, and international communities. It is important that Christians understand and stand firm against both historical and current anti-Semitism. It is furthermore essential that Christians and Jews endeavor to establish relationships of trust, integrity and a shared vision of their place in the rich inter-religious landscape.
The Challenge Today:
Christianity faces a significant challenge today – to seek relationships with other major world religions. This is an urgent challenge since members of other religions now live right next door. The Consultative Panel plays a significant role in the larger search for a theologically appropriate interpretation of Christian identity vis-à-vis the religions of the world. Consultative Panel members are mindful that this challenge for Christians is shared by Jewish neighbors as well. The interreligious challenges of today must be met together with our partners in other faiths.
ELCA Statements on Jewish Relations
The Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community
On April 18, 1994 the ELCA adopted the "Declaration," which repudiates Luther's anti-Jewish writings, expresses deep regret for their historical consequences, and reclaims the desire to live in "love and respect for Jewish people."
Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations
The ELCA adopted the "Guidelines
" on November 16, 1998, which emphasize local and inter-religious cooperation.
ELCA – Reform Judaism Dialogue
In August, 2002 the ELCA entered into dialogue with Reform Judaism. The purpose was and is to increase sharing and understanding in areas of mutual interest. The first session took place in May, 2003. The most recent session was held in March, 2006. As a result of these and other efforts, Rabbi Eric Yoffee, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), spoke at the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, to the encouragement and welcome of those present. The ELCA-Reform Judaism Dialogue is comprised of members of the ELCA and members of the Reform Movement Commission on Inter-Religious Relations, which includes delegates from the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and the Jewish Chautauqua Society. Dialogue Topics of Discussion: identity and self-understanding of Lutherans and Jews, individual governing structures, and emphases of faith. Other theological themes: the meaning of covenant, and conflict in the Middle East.