Prayer doesn’t change the world (but it helps, a lot)

October 4, 2019

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EnglishThe following essay of mine was presented at the international peace meeting entitled Peace Without Borders in Madrid in September 2019, an interfaith meeting organized for the last 30 years by the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic lay organization. I attended representing the Conference of European Rabbis.

Around 1990, a euphoria filled the Western world. The Cold War had come to an end, the West (which also included many countries in the east) had won, and most of the eastern bloc countries became liberal democratic free market societies. It looked like we were going to enter a permanently peaceful era, termed by Francis Fukuyama the End of History.

Unfortunately, in many regards, it is the competing and generally less appealing prediction of Samuel Huntington that became realized, the Clash of Civilizations. We are witnessing the reemergence of ancient prejudices and feuds as drivers for contemporary conlficts.

As religious people, our natural disposition is to pray, to cry out to our Father in Heaven for a blessing of peace and brotherhood. Surely, in our increasingly secular world, in which the practice of prayer has declined dramatically during the past century,1 religion may just provide such answers to contemporary challenges that were mostly overlooked. So is prayer the answer to our quest for peace? Prayer surely opens gates of inner peace, can it also unleash the loving torrents of brotherhood?

Though I will argue that in some ways, prayer can truly be helpful in this quest, I would like to first warn against the effectiveness of prayer in solving human conflicts. Read the rest of this entry »


Zwischen Jerusalem und Rom – die offizielle deutsche Fassung

October 30, 2017

Die formelle Übermittlung der wortwörtlichen deutschen Fassung der Deklaration Between Jerusalem and Rome vom Rabbinat und Präsidium der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Wien an Kardinal Christoph Schönborn am 26.10.2017

Gedanken zu 50 Jahren Nostra Aetate

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In der biblischen Schöpfungsgeschichte formt Gott einen einzelnen Menschen als Vorfahr der gesamten Menschheit. Die unmissverständliche Botschaft der Bibel ist also, dass alle Menschen Mitglieder einer einzigen Familie sind. Nach der Sintflut wird diese Botschaft in der Erzählung von Noach bekräftigt, indem diese neue Phase der Geschichte wieder von einer einzelnen Familie eingeleitet wird. Am Anfang bezieht sich die göttliche Vorsehung auf die universelle, undifferenzierte Menschheit.

Als Gott Abraham, Isaak und Jakob auserwählte, vertraute Er ihnen einen doppelten Auftrag an Read the rest of this entry »


A historic declaration: Between Jerusalem and Rome

August 31, 2017



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After two years of work, I had the great honor today of handing over a historic declaration by leading Orthodox rabbinic organizations to Pope Francis. The declaration is the fruit of an international committee I chaired, which included representatives of the Conference of European Rabbis, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Here is the full text of our declaration, including our philosophical, theological and historical consideration. Read the rest of this entry »


Advancing Traditional Family Values

May 19, 2015

Möbius Wedding BandEnglishaudio-input-microphoneHow can we defend traditional family values in the postmodern present, and what do they have to offer to us moderns? A podcast of a talk delivered before an interfaith panel of conservative faith leaders. Read the rest of this entry »


Are Freedom of Religion and Human Rights in Conflict?

April 2, 2014

Englishaudio-input-microphone20140327 ECRL Brussels - group photoRecently, I was invited to address an assembly of political and interfaith leaders at a meeting organized by the European Council of Religious Leaders, at the German federal state of Hessen’s representation in Brussels, under the banner of “Welcoming the Other: Equal Citizenship in Europe – the contribution of religion.” It was an opportunity to explore the mounting pressures attempting to limit freedom of religion and tolerance for others in Europe. The title of my lecture was provocatively entitled: “Religious practices and expressions: contradicting human rights?” and below are an audio recording of my talk, as well as my edited and slightly expanded remarks, responding to the question “are there obstacles that prevent people from fully using their rights as EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU?”
Read the rest of this entry »