The Christian-Jewish Encounter

“The history of religion presents a sorry spectacle.”

October 26, 1969

In addressing what he called the Christian-Jewish encounter in 1969, Rabbi Olan walked a fine line between righteous indignation and even-handedness.  On the one hand, the sorry spectacle of religion he went on to describe was focused on only one perpetrator: Christians in their persecution of Jews, Muslims, and even other Christians.

On the other hand, the conclusions he drew from this sorry spectacle were not pointed at Christians but at all religions, including Judaism.  “Both the Church and the Synagogue will have to forgo the luxury of believing that it has the final answer to man’s search for God.”

Much has changed in inter-religious relations since 1969.  The Catholic-Jewish relationship on which Rabbi Olan focused has actually improved.  But the global drift has gone the other way, with violent clashes among fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims getting worse.  In this context, now more than ever, we need Rabbi Olan’s idea that religions should not fight one another but “unite our forces against the social evils of our time – against war, poverty, racism, and violence.”

Follow this link to read the sermon text.
Follow this link to listen to the audio recording.

*Written by Joshua F. Hirsch*