Jewish, Iranian clerics attend parley

"It is very significant that we are here," says WJC rep to Saudi-sponsored conference in Vienna.

rabbi david rosen 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
rabbi david rosen 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In an effort to promote reconciliation among the faiths, two Jewish leaders are taking part in a Saudi-sponsored interfaith forum in Vienna which is also being attended by an Iranian religious leader, officials said Monday. The two-day "World Conference on Dialogue," which opened Monday afternoon, is the first follow-up forum to a gala 2008 gathering in Madrid hosted by the Muslim World League with the support of the Government of Saudi Arabia. The gathering of about 50 Muslim and Christian leaders includes senior representatives from two New York-based American Jewish groups, the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee, two Rabbis, as well an Iranian religious leader. "It is very significant that we are here... and is recognition on the part of the Saudis of the importance of the Jewish community being present in the process," said Rabbi Marc Schneier, international vice-president of the World Jewish Congress in a telephone interview from Vienna on Monday night. He added that the hot-button issues of Israel and Iran did not come up on the first day of the conference, which included general topics on religion as well as a reaffirmation of King Abdullah's commitment to interfaith dialogue. "This event is meant to be a working gathering to lead to some mechanism for ongoing dialogue, and makes it clear that King Abdullah is in this seriously and for the long haul," said Rabbi David Rosen, the Israeli Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee.