Yitzchak Adlerstein

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Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein

Simon Wiesenthal Center
wiesenthal.com
Jerusalem, Israel

What is the main focus of your activities today?
Speaking on Christian campuses to students and faculty. Regularly doing Christian radio, including two regular monthly slots in major US cities. Reaching out to Christian clergy to explain the need for working together. Writing regularly in Christian publications (sometimes together with Christian colleagues). Explaining the positive changes in attitude among many Christians directly to Jewish audiences.

How long have you been doing that?
About 15 years full-time. Part time in the years before.

What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?
Speaking on Christian campuses to students and faculty. Regularly doing Christian radio, including two regular monthly slots in major US cities. Reaching out to Christian clergy to explain the need for working together. Writing regularly in Christian publications (sometimes together with Christian colleagues). Explaining the positive changes in attitude among many Christians directly to Jewish audiences.

How did you get to where you are today?
One bus and the F train? [The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global Jewish human rights organization. It is also one of the largest Jewish membership organizations in the world. Its interests relate to both Jewish (Holocaust related; anti-Semitism; Israel) and non-Jewish concerns. Interfaith affairs emerged as a crucial area of interest, because Christians are often the best allies of Jews in certain areas like combating anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism (but I repeat myself). But they are also the best allies in addressing areas of global concern, like pressuring all governments to protect their religious minorities. I had some experience in Israel advocacy, and genuinely enjoy getting to know people outside my own orbit. So I was gradually slid into the position of Director of Interfaith Affairs.

What is your “testimony”?
I believe firmly in Divine Providence. When G-d changes the script, we are supposed to react. Something changed in parts of the Christian world in my lifetime. I cannot know what it means, because I’m not a prophet. But I am dutibound to at least explore the contours of this change, and try to figure out what to do with it. As an Orthodox Jew who loves studying the Bible, I’ve found that I have an instant rapport with Bible-believing Christians, even though they understand fully where we differ. I believe that I have to cherish that commonality, and use it for the greater glory of G-d.

What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
Much of the Western world – especially its cultural elites – have not only lost interest in G-d, they have turned hostile to the notion of believing in anything absolute. Special contempt is reserved for those who believe in a G-d Who loves and cares about His childern enough to provide them with specific instructions as to how to live their lives fully. We see the tragic results every day of eliminating G-d from our families and communities. At this crucial time, G-d has arranged for believers to offer support to each other, even as they recognize the irreconcilable theological differences between them. They are willing to find common cause in their all-important commitment to the Judeo-Christian G-d and Scripture.

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