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A brief history and introduction

The Episcopal-Jewish Alliance for Israel was founded in April, 2002, by Fr. Keith Roderick, Dennis Hale, and Adele Travisano. Fr. Roderick is an Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois, and serves as the Canon Theologian of the diocese. He is the director of Spoon River College, Macomb (Ill.) Campus and teaches religion and philosophy. Dennis Hale is an associate professor of political science at Boston College. He and his wife, Adele Travisano, are active lay members of Grace Church, an Episcopal parish in Medford, Massachusetts.

In addition to being a university administrator, Fr. Roderick is a student of the religious history of the Middle East, and in particular the experiences of non-Muslim minorities in Islamic countries. He is the Secretrary-General of the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, an organization that tracks the activities of Islamic jihad organizations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The Coalition's website is an important source of information on the experience of non-Muslim minorities in Islamic countries.

It was Dennis Hale's letter to the Boston Globe (November 29, 2001), protesting the demonstration by the Episcopal bishops outside the Israeli consulate in Boston, that began the chain of events leading to the founding of the Alliance. As a result of that letter, Hale was invited to participate in a panel discussion at Temple Beth El-Atereth Israel, in Newton, Mass., along with Fr. Roderick and Rabbi William Hamilton of Kehillith Israel in Brookline, Mass. At this forum held on April 21, 2002 over 400 people, including Episopalians angered by the bishops' demonstration and members of the temple alarmed by the church's anti-Israel pronouncements heard the panelists analyse the misunderstanding among mainstream Protestant leaders of the conflict in the Middle East. Out of that meeting grew a genuine interfaith effort to promote clarity on the conflict and to mount a principled defense of Israel.

Within a few days a Statement of Principles had been posted on the internet, and within a couple of weeks over 150 people had signed, including over 30 Episcopal priests (including a bishop). News articles appeared in several local publications: the Boston Metro, the Boston Phoenix, and the Jewish Advocate. Soon news of the organization had spread far and wide: from Los Angeles in the West to Jerusalem in the East.

The Alliance is currently engaged in the task of promoting its message among Episcopalians, and is seeking to work with other organizations to teach a clearer understanding of one of the world's most dangerous conflicts.


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