“If, fifty years ago, we had said that there would be a book to deconstruct Christian anti-Judaism, we would not have believed it! exclaims Moshe Lewin, vice-president of the conference of European rabbis, also rabbi of the synagogue of Raincy (Seine-Saint-Denis). At the Unified Jewish Social Fund in Paris, he participated in the presentation of the new book of the Conference of Bishops of France, Deconstructing Christian Anti-Judaism (1), alongside Father Christophe Le Sourt, director of the National Service for with the Judaism of the Church of France.
This work intends to become a “simple and pedagogical manual” for the dioceses. In this 160-page book, the director of the National Service for Relations with Judaism and his team have brought together twenty “myths” at the origin of Christian hostility towards Jews. Among them, two fundamental prejudices: the question of the deicide people, who would have killed Jesus; and that of “substitution”, which relegates Judaism to the status of a relic of the past, replaced by the New Testament. Each “cliché” – posed in the form of a question at the start of each chapter – is taken apart. The argument is based on passages from the Bible and the Torah, as well as on the work of episcopal committees and pontifical councils carried out over the past sixty years on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Far from writing a new Nostra Aetate (the declaration of the Second Vatican Council on the Church’s relations with non-Christian religions, published in 1965, editor’s note), this work is more in line with the “journey of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity”.
The book, prefaced by Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France, and accompanied by the foreword by Mgr Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, follows the declaration of the bishops of France on February 1, 2021, which urged “Catholics, but also all their fellow citizens, to fight vigorously against all forms of political and religious anti-Semitism”. The National Service team wanted to provide a practical response to this call.
At the origin of the declaration of February 2021, a note of interpellation from the National Service for Relations with Judaism which was alarmed by the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. It certainly stands out from anti-Judaism which, for its part, has not returned repeatedly, admits Father Christophe Le Sourt. But the fact remains that “anti-Judaism has been the breeding ground for anti-Semitism, and that, consequently, we must not allow its development among Christians today”.