Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, Yeshiva University’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Dr. David Berger, Ruth and I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History and Dean of YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, participated in a three-day conference to help improve relations between the Orthodox Christian and Jewish faiths in Thessaloniki, Greece, from June 4-6.

Leading Orthodox Christian and Jewish interfaith officials, scholars and clerics discussed the crucial importance of protecting the environment and religious values and condemned growing incidents of anti-Semitism and religious prejudice around the world during the conference. Titled “The Spiritual and Physical Environment: Respecting Our World, Respecting One Another,” it was co-sponsored by the Liaison Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Office of Interreligious and Intercultural Affairs, and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), a Jewish umbrella group. This year’s meeting was the eighth such conference between Christian Orthodoxy and Judaism since these conferences were instituted in 1976.

David Berger XCUAbout 40 Christian Orthodox clergy, rabbis, and academics from around the world, including Russia, Georgia, Romania, Israel, France, Greece, Finland, and the United States met with local government and religious leaders. Thessaloniki Mayor Ioannis Boutaris, Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, and David Saltiel, president of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki, were among those leaders who met with members of the consultation.

Participants also visited the Monastiriotes Synagogue, the Holocaust Monument and the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki.

“These meetings are extremely important for both the Jewish people and Orthodox Christianity because we share a long history and common roots,” said Schiffman, who led the Jewish delegation. “We are committed to building mutual respect and better understanding between our two faiths.”


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