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Christians & Jews Resumes Dialogue

Representatives of world Jewry met with international officials of three major Christian denominations to resume an ecumenical dialogue that has been in hiatus for more than five years.

Members of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultants (IJCIC) held a series of meetings here today with representatives of the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and the Eastern Orthodox Church, to reestablish relations and set an agenda for future meetings, according to Seymour D. Reich, a New York attorney, who is chairman of IJCIC.

The meetings were held separately and in private. Mr. Reich said they represented an effort to revive discussions on a variety of religious and political issues of concern to both Jews and Christians, including anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish discrimination.

"This was a series of key first meetings," Mr. Reich said. "It is important that ongoing dialogues be reestablished, to share common concerns and arrive at common understandings with regard to what has to be done to establish continuing communication and ties."

Among the subjects raised by Mr. Reich was the trial in Iran of Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel and the United States. The trial, which started today, has set off protests by governments and organizations throughout the world. Mr. Reich, without divulging what was said, noted that he was "pleased" with the response of each group with regard to the trial.

IJCIC has had a continuing dialogue with the Vatican for some 35 years, starting with the declarations of Pope John XXIII denouncing anti-Semitism.

IJCIC's membership consists of the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith International, World Jewish Congress, Israel Jewish Council on Interreligious Relations and representatives of the three major branches of Judaism: Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox); Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (Conservative), and Central Conference of American Rabbis and Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform).

At today's meetings in Geneva, IJCIC was represented by Mr. Reich and Dr. Leon Feldman, the committee's secretary; and Dr. Gerhart M. Riegner and Dr. Jean Halperin of the World Jewish Congress. The Christian groups were headed by Konrad Raiser, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Reverence Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, and Metropolitan Damaskinos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church, based in Istanbul.


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