SCoJeC is delighted to have been able to assist in arranging a meeting between Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Rt Rev Lorna Hood, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland during the Moderator's annual St Andrews Week visit to London. This is the first time Rabbi Mirvis, who was installed last month as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has met the Moderator, who acts as the Church's ambassador during her year of office.
This meeting comes at a time when relations between the two faith communities have been strained since last year's General Assembly's adopted of a report from its Church and Society Council that caused considerable hurt in the Jewish Community, and rejected calls for continued dialogue. (Click here for details.)
Last week, however, has seen a genuine and very welcome thaw in relations. A delegation from SCoJeC and the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council met with representatives of the Church and Society Council and the Board of World Mission to discuss our relationship and how it had been affected by our concerns about the report, and to explore how we can move forward to re-establish meaningful dialogue. There was agreement that there are many matters of mutual concern about which the Jewish Community should engage with different parts of the Church, so it was fortuitous that this week too, SCoJeC attended a meeting between the Mission and Discipleship Council and representatives of other faiths, to discuss how the church engages with an increasingly multi-faith Scotland.
We were pleased to have the opportunity to explain to senior members of the Kirk the concerns expressed by members of the Community who responded to our recent enquiry into the experience of Being Jewish in Scotland, and we welcome their recognition that all faiths encompass a range of opinions and that for dialogue to be significant it must be between representative bodies, and that the Kirk, as a locus of power in Scotland, must be prepared to listen to others with dignity and respect.
We therefore particularly welcome the Moderator's recognition of the tension caused by the Church and Society report, and her statement that, "Conscious of our common heritage, we look forward to continued dialogue and a willingness to further sharing and commitment to journeying together." We share that ambition and willingness to move on, and welcome any opportunity to reopen constructive dialogue.