Rabbi views interfaith future with optimism

Rabbi David Rosen during a visit to the Vatican in February 2014 (Newscom/ABACA/Eric Vandeville)

Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. — While headlines and social media outlets broadcast the beheadings, burnings, kidnappings and other barbarous acts performed by the Islamic State, the rise of the group in Iraq and Syria holds both a challenge and opportunity for relations among Muslims, Jews and Christians.

This is the view of Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs of the American Jewish Committee as well as director of its Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Affairs. Rosen, who lives in Jerusalem, was in New Jersey in mid-February to address the 29th annual Bergen County Interfaith Brotherhood Sisterhood Breakfast.

In an exclusive interview with NCR, the rabbi said that the work of interfaith relations is about "more than tea and sympathy." It involves understanding bias and bigotry in order to combat it; "it is about advancing shared values," which the rabbi called the path to mutual understanding.

Rosen knows well what he advocates. He has met 10 times with Pope Francis since the pontiff's installation two years ago. In December, he co-signed the Vatican's declaration against human trafficking and slavery.

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