Metzger meets Hindu leaders in India
By MATTHEW WAGNER, Jerusalem Post, February 7, 2007
Israeli Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger and other leading rabbis from around the world signed a declaration Tuesday with leading Hindu leaders in New Delhi that denounces terrorism and violence.
"Although, Muslim extremism was not singled out, it was at the forefront of many participants' minds," said Rabbi David Rosen, international director of inter religious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, speaking from New Delhi.
The resolution was signed during a summit organized by the World Council of Religious Leaders.
"The most important Hindu leaders in India gathered for the first meeting of this kind out of respect for the Jewish faith," said Metzger in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post from the summit.
"Several Hindu leaders expressed their dismay at Muslim violence," added Metzger. "They told me that both Judaism and Hinduism were the mothers from which all other religions suckled. But sometimes the offspring bite the breast that feeds them."
Since 1992, Muslims and Hindus have been guilty of sectarian violence over the disputed religious site of Ayodhya. Muslims insist on maintaining a 16th century Babri Mosque on the site which Hindus claim is the birthplace of the Hindu deity Lord Rama.
Rosen said that the declaration was particularly important since it not only repudiated violence but it also established a framework for future dialogue between over a billion Hindus and 13 million Jews.
"Now cultural and religious ties between Israel and India have been added to improving political and economic ones," said Rosen.
Chief rabbis from Spain, Belgium and several other countries took part in the summit. In the resolution the Hindu leaders also committed themselves to monotheism and rejected idolatry.
"The Hindu leaders told us that idolatry was not a part of Hindu faith but that many followers continued to harbor idolatrous practices," said Metzger.