Center for Jewish–Christian Understanding and Cooperation

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The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation
Formation2008; 16 years ago (2008)
FoundersRabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin
David Nekrutman
ServicesJewish–Christian relations
& Bible study center
Rabbi Kenneth Brander
Executive director
David Nekrutman
Director Central Europe
Rabbi Josh Ahrens
Parent organization
Ohr Torah Stone

The Center for Jewish–Christian Understanding and Cooperation or CJCUC is an educational institution at which Christians who tour Israel can study the Hebrew Bible with Orthodox rabbis and learn about the Hebraic roots of Christianity. The center was established in Efrat in 2008 by Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, who has been described as "the most prominent rabbinic spokesperson to Christian Zionists".[1] CJCUC partners with major Christian interfaith organizations such as Christians United for Israel and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.[1] Since Riskin's retirement as president of Ohr Torah Stone in 2018, the overseeing of all CJCUC activities has been turned over to David Nekrutman who has served as the center's chief director since its inception.[2]


The ideological groundwork, which led to the eventual establishment of CJCUC in 2008, began to take shape almost 50 years beforehand. In 1964, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the teacher and mentor of CJCUC's Chancellor and Founder, Shlomo Riskin, published an essay entitled "Confrontation"[3] in which he expounded his views on interfaith dialogue and carefully drew out guidelines which permitted such a dialogue and, in the view of Riskin, not only permitted it but rendered it necessary.

At around the same time, fundamental ideological shifts were forming within the ranks of the Catholic Church, and a year after Soloveitchik's essay was published, The Holy See issued Nostra aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions. Nostra aetate absolved the Jews from the crucifixion of Jesus, and admitted that religious antisemitism had a significant role in laying the foundation for the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people.

Riskin's academic plunge into Jewish–Christian relations began in the early 1960s when he attended seminars, held by Professor David Flusser, about the Christian Gospels at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As an Orthodox Jew, he could pinpoint the parallels for Jesus' teachings within the Hebrew scripture.[4]

After settling in Efrat, Riskin began to engage with the Christian world. Most of the Christian visitors to Efrat, those who came to hear and learn, were Evangelicals. He formed relations with Rev. Robert Stearns of Eagles' Wings and with Pastor John Hagee.[5][6]

Since Riskin's retirement as president of Ohr Torah Stone institutions in 2018, the overseeing of all CJCUC activities has been turned over to David Nekrutman who has served as the center's chief director since its inception.[2]


Hebraic Bible Study[edit]

CJCUC Chancellor & Founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, and CJCUC Executive Director, David Nekrutman, meet with Pope Francis in Rome, Italy, 26 October 2016
CJCUC Founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, CJCUC Chancellor, Rabbi Kenneth Brander, CJCUC Executive Director, David Nekrutman, Pastor John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, at an event held in honor of Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 11 November 2018
COGIC Bishop of Israel, Glenn Plummer, and First Lady Pauline Plummer handing out Food Care Packages as part of the center's "Blessing Bethlehem" initiative to help the persecuted Christian community living in Bethlehem, 24 July 2019
CJCUC Executive Director, David Nekrutman, Former Associate Director, Pesach Wolicki, and staff aiding the community of Halamish in an international relief effort carried out by the center, after a series of arson attacks throughout Israel the week before left many homeless, 30 November 2016.

CJCUC hosts Christian groups from all over the world for all-day seminars,[7][8][9] which include tours of biblical sites such as nearby Jerusalem, the Path of the Patriarchs and the Herodian wells. Among the subjects that the seminar series includes are Jewish–Christian Relations; the Theology of Biblical Holidays; Covenant and Mission; The Ten Commandments; Satan, Evil and Free Will; Judaism and the Ministry of Jesus; and Human Life Created in the Image of God.

The center runs educational seminars for students and faculty of Catholic and Protestant seminaries in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It has appointed North American and European directors to coordinate relations with religious leaders on these continents.

CJCUC has established a Theological Think Tank, the Institute for Theological Inquiry (ITI),[10] headed by Rabbi Eugene Korn and Dr. Robert Jenson of the Witherspoon Institute, which consists of international scholars and theologians whose tasks are to clarify areas of Jewish and Christian theological agreement and disagreement,[11] as well as identify areas of fruitful cooperation. The topics focus on past and present Jewish–Christian Relations, Covenant, Salvation, Biblical Hermeneutics, Religion and Violence, Ethical Monotheism, and Messianism.

In May 2011, CJCUC facilitated and sponsored a Yale University student group consisting of Orthodox Jewish and Evangelical Christians to learn the fundamentals of Jewish–Christian relations.[12]

In March 2012, CJCUC took Latin American priests and rabbis to learn the fundamentals of Jewish-Catholic relations in the backdrop of the Holy Land.[8][13]

In June 2012, CJCUC partnered with Christians United for Israel to bring 30 Evangelical pastors from the U.S. to learn the fundamentals of Jewish–Christian relations.[14]

In February 2013, CJCUC co-sponsored the visit of more than 160 pastors to Israel through the Christians United for Israel organization.[15]

In January 2015, CJCUC founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin along with CJCUC's Executive Director, David Nekrutman, addressed a group of 400 pastors and rabbis at a symposium held in Broward County, Florida.[16]

In February 2015, on a visit to Oklahoma, Rabbi Riskin unveiled plans for historic high school curricula, being worked on in a joint effort with the government of Israel, detailing advancements in Jewish–Christian relations.[17]

In July 2016, CJCUC announced that it was moving its center of operations from Efrat to the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.[18][19]

CJCUC has received funds from Israel's Hertog family, Paul Singer Foundation, Zion's Gate International Foundation, Ministry of Justice, and John Hagee Ministries.

Day to Praise[edit]

In October 2014, Riskin became the first Orthodox rabbi to invite Christian visitors to Israel to participate in a "praise rally" with Jewish interfaith leaders at the Center's headquarters during the holiday of Sukkot.[20] For Sukkot 2012, he hosted a seminar for Christian visitors.[21]

In March 2015, he launched the Day to Praise global initiative calling out to Christians worldwide to join him in reciting Hallel (Psalms 113–118) to praise God on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day).[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

Later that year, in 2015, during the festival of Sukkot, CJCUC, together with its founder, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, hosted an interfaith event in Efrat in which 200 Christians and Jews came together to sing the praises of God in unity. Riskin said that "the prayer event will help usher in the Messianic Age."[35]

Blessing Bethlehem[edit]

CJCUC created the first food voucher program to help financially disadvantaged Christian Arabs living in the Land.

In September 2016, the center launched the "Blessing Bethlehem" fundraising initiative at the LifeLight Festival in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in and effort to create a food giveaway program for persecuted Christians in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.[36][37]

Social activism[edit]

In October 2013, CJCUC Executive Director, David Nekrutman published a controversial appeal for funds from Jews to support the purchase of a permanent site for the Christian-Arab church of Pastor Steven Khoury.[38][39]

In May 2014, CJCUC sponsored an interfaith Latin American clergy mission that visited the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, donating supplies to wounded Syrian civil war refugees.[40][41]

In a September 2015 piece for The Times of Israel, Executive Director, David Nekrutman appealed to the Israeli Ministry of Education in regards to budget cuts and equal funding for Christian Schools in Israel citing these budget cuts as "collateral damage" of internal political issues and stating that these issues "should never oppress minority populations".[42] Later, together with The Pave the Way Foundation (PTWF) and the Galilee Center for Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations (CSJCR), CJCUC initiated an international campaign urging the Israeli Prime Minister and Education Ministry to Save Christian Education.[43]


CJCUC accomplishments include:

  • In January 2012, CJCUC received the honorary title of Goodwill Ambassador for Jewish–Christian Relations from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his letter, the prime minister writes: "I believe you are uniquely suited to be an Ambassador of Goodwill for the State of Israel to strengthen relations between Jews and Christians throughout the world. I know that you will continue to promote understanding between Jews and Christians in a spirit of mutual respect that will enable both to work together to better mankind."
  • CJCUC is on the official body between the Holy See and the Jewish people via IJCIC.[44] In January 2011, Riskin had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI,[45] and in June 2013, CJCUC's Academic Director Rabbi Eugene Korn, along with other members of the organized Jewish establishment, met with Pope Francis.[46]
  • CJCUC's Executive Director, David Nekrutman, was accepted into the Oral Roberts University online Graduate Theology program, the first Orthodox Jew to do so.[47] In 2011 Nekrutman spoke to Korean Christians at a pro-Israel rally held in Seoul.[48] Nekrutman was the first Orthodox Jew to speak at the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) conference and discuss the importance of visiting Israel. In April 2012, he was the main speaker at CUFI's first international event in Nairobi where over 1,500 Africans attended to support Israel.

Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity[edit]

On 3 December 2015, CJCUC spearheaded a petition of orthodox rabbis from around the world calling for increased partnership between Jews and Christians.[49][50][51][52][53][54]

The unprecedented statement, entitled "To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians", was initially signed by over 25 prominent Orthodox rabbis in Israel, United States, and Europe.[54][55]

The real importance of this Orthodox statement is that it calls for fraternal partnership between Jewish and Christian religious leaders, while also acknowledging the positive theological status of the Christian faith. Jews and Christians must be in the forefront of teaching basic moral values to the world.

The statement cites traditional opinions by past rabbinic authorities to justify partnership with Christians and religious appreciation of Christianity.[54]

We understand that there is room in traditional Judaism to see Christianity as part of God's covenantal plan for humanity, as a development out of Judaism that was willed by God.

In May 2017, the statement was approbated by Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Argentina and Cardinal Christoph Schönborn Archbishop of Vienna.[55]


  • "Covenant and Hope—Christian and Jewish Reflections" (Eerdmans, 2012) ISBN 978-0802867049
  • "Plowshares into Swords? Reflections on Religion and Violence" (2014) (Kindle Edition) ASIN B00P11EGOE
  • "Cup of Salvation: A Powerful Journey Through King David's Psalms of Praise" (Gefen Publishing, 2017) ISBN 978-9652299352


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shapiro, Faydra L. (2012). "The Messiah and Rabbi Jesus: Policing the Jewish–Christian border in Christian Zionism". Culture and Religion. 12 (4): 463–477. doi:10.1080/14755610.2011.633537. S2CID 143392018.
  2. ^ a b SHARON, JEREMY; HALON, EYTAN (28 February 2019). "INTERFAITH RELATIONS: EVANGELICAL-JEWISH RELATIONS AFTER ECKSTEIN". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ Confrontation, Tradition 6:2 p5-9, 1964. Reprinted in "A Treasury of Tradition", Hebrew Publishing Co, NY, 1967. – OCLC 1974913
  4. ^ Shabat HaGadol – translated from Hebrew – page 15
  5. ^ Shabat HaGadol – translated from Hebrew – page 18
  6. ^ Erlich, Zur (17 May 2012). "Jewish–Christian Dialogue: Rethinking" (in Hebrew). Makor Rishon. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Riskin to launch interfaith center". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b "WJC co-sponsors Israel trip of Latin American priests". World Jewish Congress. 1 March 2013. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  9. ^ Casco Herrera, Roger (16 May 2016). "Zacarías 8:23 se cumple: Más de 20,000 Cristianos aprenden la Biblia Hebrea con Rabinos Ortodoxos en Israel" (in Spanish). Profecía Al Día. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  10. ^ "CJCUC Announces the Publication of Covenant & Hope" – – 10 August 2012
  11. ^ Covenant and Hope – Christian and Jewish Reflections – Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. – July 2012 – ISBN 978-0802867049
  12. ^ "HHCC Makes Statement on Christian-Jewish Relations". Hebraic Heritage Christian Center. 23 May 2011. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  13. ^ Danan, Deborah (3 March 2012). "Latin American Catholics and Jews share a trip to the Holy Land to bridge gaps". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Jews and Christian Evangelicals work to improve communication". Deseret News. 28 June 2012. Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  15. ^ "CUFI Takes More than 160 Pastors to Israel (press release)". Christians United for Israel. 26 February 2013. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  16. ^ Glassman, Marvin (26 January 2015). "Riskin: Interfaith dialogue critical". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  17. ^ Shelden, Darla (25 February 2015). "Rabbi Riskin announces historic curriculum for Israeli schools during visit to Oklahoma". City-Sentinel. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  18. ^ "The Land of the Bible Meets the Word of the Bible". Christian Newswire. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  19. ^ "CJCUC is Moving to Jerusalem". MailChimp. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Hundreds of Christians Joined Rabbi Riskin to Celebrate Sukkot". Christian Newswire. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  21. ^ Black, John (9 October 2012). "Efrat Tour: A Rabbinic View on the 'End of Days'". International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Rabbi Riskin Launches 'Day to Praise' Initiative". Christian Newswire. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  23. ^ Poch, Raphael (23 March 2015). ""Day to Praise" Calls on Christians, Jews Worldwide to Unite in Prayer". Breaking Israel News. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Calling on Christians and Jews to Recite 'Hallel' on Israeli Independence Day". Breaking Israel News. 22 March 2015. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  25. ^ Nekrutman, David (23 March 2015). "A Day to Praise: Join Israel in Thanking God For His Continuous Protection". Charisma Magazine. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  26. ^ Mitchell, Chris (23 March 2015). "Day to Praise Initiative". CBN News. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  27. ^ Darg, Christine (29 March 2015). "THIS IS HISTORIC! "Day to Praise" Calls on Christians & Jews Worldwide to Unite in Prayer". Jerusalem Channel. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
  28. ^ "以色列獨立日 全球猶基要齊讚美神" (in Chinese). Kingdom Revival Times. 25 March 2015. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  29. ^ Poch, Raphael (8 April 2015). "INSPIRED BY PSALM 117: "DAY TO PRAISE" CALLS ON CHRISTIANS AND JEWS TO THANK GOD FOR ISRAEL'S PROTECTION". Breaking Christian News. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  30. ^ "Inspired by Psalm 117: "Day to Praise" Calls on Christians and Jews to Thank God for Israel's Protection". The Christian Observer. 9 April 2015. Archived from the original on 25 May 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  31. ^ "以色列獨立日 全球猶太人基督徒要齊聲讚美神" (in Chinese). 5 April 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  32. ^ Wolicki, Rabbi Pesach (19 April 2015). "Praise Hashem All Nations". Breaking Israel News. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  33. ^ Weisz, Tuly (20 April 2015). "Realization of Biblical Prophecy, God's Promise Coming to Life in Israel". Breaking Israel News. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  34. ^ Darg, Christine (24 April 2015). "Historic 'Day to Praise' Includes Christians on Israeli Independence Day". Jerusalem Channel. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  35. ^ Berkowitz, Adam Eliyahu (14 October 2015). "Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: Interfaith Prayer "Bringing Us Closer" to Messianic Age". Breaking Israel News. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  36. ^ Hult, John (2 September 2016). "Food giveaway inspires outreach to Israel". Argus Leader. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  37. ^ CALVERT, PAUL (10 December 2019). "David Nekrutman: Connecting Christians". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  38. ^ Nekrutman, David (October 2013). "A Call to Action". The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  39. ^ "Director of Rabbi Riskin's Interfaith Center Appeals for Funding to Build Church in Jerusalem". Jewish Israel. 27 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  40. ^ "Latin American clergy mission visits Syrian refugees in Israeli hospital". 19 May 2014. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  41. ^ "Latin American clergy visit Syrian refugees in Israeli hospital". The Bristol Press. 23 May 2014. Archived from the original on 5 October 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  42. ^ Nekrutman, David (12 September 2015). "Collateral Damage". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  43. ^ "International Campaign Urges Israeli Prime Minister to Save Christian Education". Christian News Wire. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  44. ^ "CJCUC Joins IJCIR As Partner". Christian Newswire. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  45. ^ "Rabbi and Pope discuss Jewish-Christian cooperation in Israel". Catholic News Agency. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  46. ^ "Pope Francis meets the Jewish delegation". Embassy of Israel to the Holy See. 24 June 2013.
  47. ^ Garber, Mckensie (Spring 2014). "Online Learning Reaches into Holy Land" (PDF). Excellence Magazine: 13.
  48. ^ "Thousands Celebrate Israel in Seoul, Korea". The Jerusalem Connection. 2012. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  49. ^ Berkowitz, Adam Eliyahu (7 December 2015). "Groundbreaking Petition Signed by Leading Rabbis Calls for Increased Partnership Between Jews and Christians". Breaking Israel News. Archived from the original on 20 April 2017. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  50. ^ Lipman, Steve (8 December 2015). "Modern Orthodox Leaders Bless Interfaith Dialogue". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on 20 June 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  51. ^ Smith, Peter (11 December 2015). "Vatican, Orthodox rabbis issue interfaith statements affirming each other's faith". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  52. ^ Yanklowitz, Rabbi Shmuly (3 February 2016). "Towards Jewish-Christian Reconciliation & Partnership". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  53. ^ MINKOV, VLADIMIR (7 February 2016). "Mutual Judeo-Christian spiritual foundation of Judaism and Christianity". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  54. ^ a b c d e "Orthodox Rabbis issue groundbreaking statement on Christianity". Vatican Radio. 10 December 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  55. ^ a b "Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity – To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven – Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians". CJCUC. 3 December 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  56. ^ Weissman, Dr. Deborah (1 September 2014). "Rabbi Angel Kreiman-Brill zl (1945–2014)". International Council of Christians and Jews. Retrieved 23 October 2014.

External links[edit]