A group of Orthodox rabbis have released a statement saying Christianity was not an accident but in fact part of God's divine plan.
The statement entitled "To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Toward a Partnership between Jews and Christians", signed by 28 Orthodox rabbis, marks a significant shift in perspective on Christianity and the possibility for further interfaith relations.
Where previously the interfaith cooperation was limited to social, economic and political causes, this document cites Christianity as having a theological and eschatological purpose.
"Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations," the statement said.
"In separating Judaism and Christianity, God willed a separation between partners with significant theological differences, not a separation between enemies."
"The real importance of this Orthodox statement is that it calls for fraternal partnership between Jewish and Christian religious leaders, while also acknowledging the positive theological status of the Christian faith. Jews and Christians must be in the forefront of teaching basic moral values to the world," said Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the founder of the Centre for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).
The statement was released on 3 December, 50 years after the Second Vatican Council's Nostra Aetate declaration in 1965, which repudiated the long-held view that Jews killed Christ and deserved persecution, instead affirming the Jewish covenant.
"Today Jews have experienced sincere love and respect from many Christians that have been expressed in many dialogue initiatives, meetings and conferences around the world," the statement continued.
It recognises the significance of the shift in dogma the Nostra Aetate declaration and although it doesn't explicitly commemorate the anniversary, it does state that its publication paved the way for the Jewish statement.
"Now that the Catholic Church has acknowledged the eternal Covenant between God and Israel, we Jews can acknowledge the ongoing constructive validity of Christianity as our partner in world redemption, without any fear that this will be exploited for missionary purposes."
The document was signed by 28 rabbis, mostly from the more liberal wing of the Orthodox Jewish tradition.
One signatory, Rabbi Irvin Greenberg, conceded that many orthodox rabbis would not sign as they refuse to see the will of God to be reaching out to the gentiles through Christianity. There is also fear among some Orthodox rabbis that Christians will seek to evangelise the Jewish people.
Greenberg explained that unlike these orthodox rabbis, he understood that "there is room in traditional Judaism to see Christianity as part of God's convenental plan for humanity, as a development of Judaism that was willed by God."