Church leaders have paid tribute to Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, the former Chief Rabbi of Haifa, who died on Monday at the age of 89. He was buried on Tuesday at Jerusalem's Mount of Olives. A former fighter in pre-state Jewish underground movements, Cohen was was a vehement opponent of withdrawing from occupied land, but was also active in interfaith dialogue with Christians and Muslims and became the first Jew to address a Vatican synod in 2008.
In a statement Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Chairman of the Bishops Conference committee for Catholic-Jewish relations said: "The Catholic community in England and Wales wishes to express its sympathy and sorrow on the recent death of Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen. We especially recall with gratitude his vital role in the Dialogue between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See. We likewise acknowledge with gratitude his particular relationship with Pope Benedict XVI.
As we remember Rabbi Cohen in prayer we also pray that his work and witness will inspire others to continue on the path of open but honest dialogue and friendship."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "I am saddened to hear of the death of Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen. He was a person of great spiritual depth, wisdom and compassion. His strong commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue was a blessing to Christians of many different churches, and his legacy will live on in strengthened friendship, deepened understanding and renewed commitment to work together.
"My prayers are with all of those grieving and my hope is that as Jewish and Christian communities we are reminded and inspired to build relationships and learn from one another."