Dozens of prominent rabbis from Israel
and Europe, including former and present chief rabbis, have written a letter of condemnation and sympathy to leaders of the Latrun Monastery, which was desecrated by vandals
This significant move was made in a bid to calm tensions with the Christian world following the suspected "price tag" attack by right-wing activists.
On Sunday, following their morning prayers, the Latrun Monastery monks were addressed by Alon Goshen-Gottstein, director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, who presented them with the rabbis' letter.
"We would like to express our shock in light of the acts of vandalism directed at your monastery, the kind of which have been directed in recent months against other churches and mosques across the country," they wrote.
"We deeply regret the disrespect you were shown by members of our religion and people."
'Price tag' at Latrun Monastery (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
In the letter, addressed to the monastery's abbot, Father Rene, the rabbis wrote that Jews are compelled by the Torah to show respect to every single person, regardless of their faith.
"We believe there is no room for expressions of hatred and hostility towards any person of a different faith… Our Torah's ways are pleasant and peaceful."
The rabbis said they had conducted a process of "self-examination" following the incident. "It is our responsibility to expose and emphasize the religious texts education must be based on in light of these values. The love of Israel must not be based on the hatred of others."
In this context, they praised an educational project called "Judaism's attitude towards other religions", which includes texts supporting the idea of educating the young generation this way.
The letter concludes with the hope that "you accept this expression of sympathy as well as our renewed commitment to work to increase the understanding between members of the different religions in the Land of Israel."
The letter's signatories include former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron; Rabbi She'ar Yashuv Hacohen, chair of the Council for Dialogue between Judaism and Islam; Rabbis Jonathan Sacks, Gilles Bernheim, Berel Lazar and Michael Schudrich – the chief rabbis of Britain, France, Russia and Poland (respectively); Rabbi Menachem of the settlement of Tekoa, Rabbi Yuval Sherlo of the Petah Tikvah Hesder Yeshiva and Rabbi Michael Melchior.