Dec 31, 2009

Rabbi Riskin's official response

Being that Rabbi Riskin has been criticized, I believe he also has the right to have his response heard in the same venues... Rabbi Riskin issued the following response, an official statement, to the criticism over his video talking about Jesus and Christianity..



It has come to my attention that comments I made on the character of Jesus in a recent interview have been misunderstood. Allow me to clarify.

The filmed interview in question (given to a group of Christians) was edited carelessly and posted on YouTube by an organization that omitted a significant part of my message. The fundamental differences between Judaism and Christianity, which I always emphasize in my talks with Christian groups, were completely absent from the edited version. In the segment of the film that was spliced out I made specific reference to the fact that Jews can never accept Jesus as the Messiah – anyone who does so is ipso fact not a Jew - and that for us every human being is a child of G-d (and not any one specific individual); no one single person can ever claim that unique status, which G-d bestowed upon all of humanity created in His image.

I would certainly never praise the Christian representation in whose name Jews have been slaughtered and persecuted throughout the years. That was not my intention at all, and I regret putting myself in a position where my words could be manipulated. Indeed, my comments referred to Jesus the historical figure, the man who was not a “Christian,” who did not hate Jews but rather was himself a committed Jew. In order to emphasize this point to a Christian audience, I referred to him as “Rabbi” Jesus, the Jewish historical Jesus as many historians such as Professors Joseph Klausner and David Flusser have proven him to be. However, let me be clear: While I refer to Jesus poetically as “Rabbi” Jesus, he was not a rabbi in the classical sense of the term. It was used only to explain to a Christian audience the Jewish Jesus, and in hindsight, the term was an inappropriate one to use.

Tragically, innumerable horrors were inflicted upon the Jewish people in his name. I always emphasize this point to Christian audiences and they always respond with great empathy and sincere pain. For me, one of the true signs of the unique period in which we are living is that for the first time in 2000 years, the Christian world has held out a hand of peace to the Jewish world. Even more: leading Catholics (notably Pope John 23 and Pope John Paul II), important intellectual Protestants like Professor Jon D. Levenson and Prof. Petra Held and virtually the entire Evangelical community worldwide have asked for our forgiveness, have made serious revisions in their theological positions, and are standing squarely behind the Jewish people in the State of Israel.

As an Orthodox rabbi, I deeply believe that there is a need for mutually-respectful dialogue between the Jewish and Christian worlds. This dialogue must express our common commitment to a G-d of love, pluralism and peace, but must at the same time never gloss over the very different faith commitments of our individual respective religious communities. Dialogue between Jews and Christians is especially crucial now for the political future of the nation of Israel as well as for the security of the free world in the face of the rapidly spreading Islamic Fundamentalism which is terrorizing humanity. Only the G-d of love and peace which we share with the Christian world can overcome the false G-d of Jihad and terrorist bombers. From a Jewish perspective it is clear that such dialogue can only be conducted in accordance with the principals of our Torah philosophy and the faith commitments which are the foundation of our sacred traditions.

Shlomo Riskin


  1. "pluralism?"
    Dangerous, sounds more like NY '60's liberal-left than Orthodox rabbi.

  2. "In the segment of the film that was spliced out"

    this is all the defence he needs. and it continues to prove that nothing heard on the internet can be taken as fact untill verified.

  3. R. Riskin has a history of saying unacceptable statements regarding Jesus.

    About 6 months ago a video, circulated by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), shows R. Riskin speaking of the “grafting” of evangelical Christianity onto Israel and "resurrecting" G-d.

    On the video R. Riskin says “We are meant to pray together. In Isaiah Chapter 56, the prophet speaks of the Holy Temple… Isaiah says, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.’ And this is the dream, vision and end-goal.” At this point, he is cut off, and his talk then continues with this: “G-d is asking from the Jewish People to fulfill our covenant… an eternal, irrevocable contract. The party of the first part, as it were, is G-d Himself. The party of the second part is the Jewish People, but not only the Jewish People. Because as Romans states quite clearly, certainly the evangelical Christian community has grafted itself upon the covenant.”

    R. Riskin is then seen saying, “It’s critical that we join hands.” At that point, on the backdrop of two hands coming together, one holding a Jewish star and the other holding a cross, the rabbi states, “and it’s critical that we resurrect G-d in this generation.”

    When caught, like he did here, he "retracted".

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Prof Levenson is not quite a Protestant, more like a frum guy....

    he actualy responds in the comments here

  6. He also says, " Efrat, in the West Bank of Israel..."

    The west bank of the Jordan river is where Efrat is.

    The west bank of Israel is the beach in Tel Aviv.

    Get the man an atlas!

  7. I heard Rabbi Riskin this Shabbos at The Shul (Chabad) in Surfside, Florida. Personally, I found the general tone overly apologetic towards Chr-stians, and I believe that the room was generally skeptical, if not occasionally hostile. One particularly pointed moment was when Rabbi Sholom Dovber Lipskar said that it was obvious that Yoschka (Riskin refers to him as Yeshu ha notzri) was obviously chayav misa, which Rabbi Riskin did not agree with. Also, Rabbi Riskin made some very confusing comments about going into a church (!), which I think pretty all poskim agree is assur. To be fair, that remains to be clarified, but I found the general approach of picking and choosing poskim to be very meikil regarding the Chr-stians to be unpleasant at best, but probably much worse. There was also criticism in the room of Rabbi Riskin regarding accommodation of Oslo (i.e. not wanting to upset the Israeli government), and minimizing the danger of missionaries (Hagee might be fine, but many others spend hundreds of millions to convert Jews). I am glad that I heard the presentation, but found it very unsettling, and I am sure that this incident that you report is not the last word on the matter. I also found constantly pointing the finger at Islamic extremism to be distracting from the real issues (overly lenient Jews, missionaries, and secular humanism).

  8. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at if you will. Love is the law, love under will. ;)

  9. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at if you will. Love is the law, love under will. ;)


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