Ron Kronish, an American-born rabbi in Israel, has devoted much of his life to dialogue among Jews, Muslims and Christians. His new book discusses the merits of dialogue. He says, the Vatican’s increasingly warm relations with Israel, for example, were rooted not only in diplomatic moves but 35 years of “systemic and substantive progress in Jewish-Catholic relations” fostered by hard-working priests and rabbis.
JERUSALEM – In Israel, when a rabbi, a priest and an imam walk into a room, it’s not a joke begging for a punchline.It’s an opportunity for the clerics to find some common ground and engage in peace building in an often-violent region, says Ron Kronish, an American-born rabbi who has devoted much of his life to interreligious peace building in Israel.
To Kronish, who has a new book out – “The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem” – the purpose of interfaith dialogue “isn’t to solve the peace process.”
Rather, said the Reform rabbi, it has defused many a tense situation.
“Our role isn’t political. There are tens of seminars and think tanks working on solving the political peace process,” said Kronish, 71, during an interview in Jerusalem, which he has called home for 38 years.
“It’s not kumbaya, saying nice things about others’ religions. It’s painful and people wince a little, but an atmosphere is created where you can say what bothers you, and there is compassion and caring.”
Over time, Kronish said, “you learn to live with one another, to understand other cultures. Our mission is to keep the hope for peace alive by creating real human relationships.”
In his new book, Kronish relates how ongoing, substantive meetings between faith leaders have fostered better relations on both the grass-roots and national levels.
The Vatican’s increasingly warm relations with Israel, for example, were rooted not only in diplomatic moves but 35 years of “systemic and substantive progress in Jewish-Catholic relations” fostered by hard-working priests and rabbis.