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Photo: Passion Play.

Jewish group meets with German Passion Play over stereotypes

Once a decade, thousands of Christians make the pilgrimage to Germany for the Oberammergau Passion Play, which first was performed in 1634. As the May 2020 production approaches, a Jewish organization met with leadership of the play to help eliminate any lingering stereotypes of Jews.

An Academic Advisory Group was established by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to review costumes and set designs, in addition to script language. Modifications accelerated dramatically under the leadership of Christian Stückl, a four-time director of the play that is seen by a half-million people every 10 years. In addition to ridding the play of many of the most flagrant anti-Jewish abuses, Stückl introduced a Jewish Jesus who teaches Torah, pursues social justice and leads his community in prayer.

So what exactly is the play? Watch a video:

“We have found a receptive partner in Christian Stückl and plan to advise him as he continues to direct an Oberammergau Passion Play transformation,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious and intergroup relations for the AJC. “We will share our constructive criticisms, as appropriate.”

The advisory group includes experts in Christian-Jewish relations, New Testament studies, German-Jewish relations and the Oberammergau Passion Play. In addition to Marans, the members are: Rabbis Dr. David Fine of Temple Israel in Ridgewood, N.J., and Abraham Geiger College of Berlin, Germany; Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, and emeritus director of the Muhlenberg College Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding; Dr. Adele Reinhartz of the University of Ottawa; and Rabbi Dr. David Sandmel, director of interreligious engagement for the Anti-Defamation League.

The Academic Advisory Group is committed to constructive engagement with Stückl and his team, with a focus on historically accurate portrayals of Roman and Jewish leadership and power in the first century, and elimination of any lingering negative characterizations of


In advance of the 2020 play, AJC launched a website.  The organization introduces visitors to a Christian-Jewish relations perspective on the play, answers frequently asked questions and houses diverse resources on the subject.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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