Opinion: "Walk in Each Other's Shoes"

February 28, 2006

Source: The Guardian


On February 28, 2006 The Guardian ran an opinion piece by Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of the Movement for Reform Judaism in Britain and a co-president of the Council of Christians and Jews. Bayfield writes, "Sir Jonathan Sacks, leader of Britain's orthodox Jewish community, and Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, have found themselves at the centre of what is, I hope, only a minor hiccup in the normally calm relationship between Britain's Jews and Christians. The problem is the determination of the Church of England to invest ethically. From which, it is inferred, investing in Caterpillar, the makers of bulldozers used by Israelis to demolish Palestinian houses, is a bad thing. Disinvesting in Caterpillar has been on the agenda for some time, but when a resolution was passed by the Synod recently, Sir Jonathan went as ballistic as an urbane Oxbridge Jew ever goes. If the two men had been able to sit down quietly over a cup of Earl Grey, I think the conversation might have gone something like this..." Bayfield then goes on to construct an imaginary dialogue between these two religious leaders, giving Rabbi Sacks the last word but then commenting, "I'm a Jewish religious leader and my ability to step into someone else's shoes is limited. Maybe Christian readers could construct Dr Williams's sensitive but frank response. How does the conversation continue? How do we move from mutual frustration to empathetic and honest dialogue?"