American Jewish Groups: We Have Not Approved 2010 Production Of Oberammergau Passion Play

New York, NY, February 18, 2010 … Contrary to misleading assertions that appear on the official website of the 2010 Oberammergau Passion Play and in subsequent erroneous media reports, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) categorically state that they have not endorsed or approved the 2010 German production.

ADL and AJC are asking play officials to remove the names of their respective organizations and the names of their organizations' representatives from the official Oberammergau website and all Oberammergau press releases.

In a joint statement, Rabbi Eric Greenberg, ADL Director of the Department of Interfaith Affairs; Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC's Associate Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations; and Rabbi James Rudin, AJC's Senior Interreligious Adviser, said:

American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have not approved the 2010 Oberammergau Passion Play. After our rabbinic team met in Oberammergau with the directors and church (Catholic and Lutheran) theological advisor in October 2009, we made clear a number of issues of great concern regarding the play's text, visual images and significant plot changes that we believe can transmit toxic anti-Jewish images and perceptions. We notified them about our concerns in a Nov. 4, 2009 letter, and have never received a response.

Although we engaged in significant discussions regarding a host of issues, it would not be possible to render our final evaluation regarding the 2010 Passion Play until a team of Christian and Jewish scholars can study a completed text and translation and receive a clearer picture of the set designs, costuming and plot changes. Until then we cannot offer a final evaluation of the 2010 Passion Play.

Historically, Passion plays have perpetuated anti-Jewish sentiment through caricatures and stereotypes of Jews and selective texts. In the spirit of Christian-Jewish dialogue AJC and ADL have spearheaded the decades-long process of removing anti-Jewish elements from the Oberammergau Passion Play.

The Oberammergau Passion Play is performed every ten years in a village near Munich and is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. The play's influence is reflected throughout the world in Passion plays large and small. The 2010 performances will begin in May.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.