Archbishop Thomas Collins reached out to Toronto’s Jewish community Sept. 29, addressing an audience at the Beth Tzedec synagogue in midtown Toronto.

Collins reaches out to Jewish community

  • October 5, 2007

TORONTO - Archbishop Thomas Collins reached out to Toronto’s Jewish community Sept. 29, addressing an audience at the Beth Tzedec synagogue in midtown Toronto.



Standing in front of the largest Jewish conservative congregation in Toronto wearing a black kippah (skull cap), Collins spoke about the “church and the synagogue in the new century.”

“We have been together on this journey for 2,000 years,” he said. “We have a long history, but often a sad history.”

Jews and Christians have differences in faith, most notably the meaning and identity of Jesus of Nazareth, he said. But both are “brothers and sisters in God’s presence.”

Collins and Beth Tzedec’s head Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl acknowledged Christians and Jews have fundamental differences of faith, but also similarities.

{sidebar id=2}Frydman-Kohl prefaced Collins’ lecture, explaining to the congregation that in order to hear Collin’s message they need to relinquish two claims: triumphalism and relativism. He defined the first as believing one possesses the only truth and the second as a belief that there is no truth.

“We must each in our own way claim our truths and realize our truths have commonalities,” he said.

Collins gave a few examples of how Christians and Jews can work together to be a presence of God in the world. He said humility is the fundamental virtue both communities must possess.

“Humility is to be attentive, to notice, to listen, to be attentive to God.”

The lecture took place during Sukkot, a seven-day celebration in the Jewish calendar, and humility is one of the themes during that holiday.

“He picked up on that and talked about that, in that sense he acted on what he said — one has to listen carefully to the other,” said Frydman-Kohl.

“People came up to me to say he was very pastoral,” said the rabbi, pleased with the lecture. “He was not talking theology to them, he was talking relationship and I think that’s an important way to open the door. Theology can come afterward. First we have to be able to say hello to each other.”

He added: “Toronto has a significant amount of Holocaust survivors who view the church and the legacy from the Holocaust in less than a positive light.”

Frydman-Kohl invited Collins to address the Jewish community to help them understand what direction he wanted to take Toronto Catholics. 

“I thought it was an auspicious time and it would give the archbishop a chance to put his mark on interfaith relations in Toronto,” he explained.

“I knew that his predecessor had focused a lot of energy on trying to unify the different ethnic groups within the Catholic Church and diocese, and I said (to Collins) the interfaith community really needs your leadership.”

Frydman-Kohl said he looks forward to building on the relationship and in the future he could imagine Toronto area Catholics and Jews travelling together to Rome and Jerusalem on a pilgrimage.

Collins ended his lecture by stating that one concrete way all faith communities can work together is by helping the poor.

He said that where he lives in downtown Toronto, there are people who hang their starving heads in the gutter on the side of the road.

“We share that world.”

Often those who are suffering are helped by someone with a religious motivation, he said.

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