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Report: Regional conference on the Berlin Document, Jerusalem, 2012 Sept. 6th.

Author Message
Written on: 09. 09. 2012 [02:46]
Debbie Weissman
registered since: 25.01.2011
Posts: 4
Hi, everybody. I just wanted to give you an initial report on the successful "regional conference" on the Berlin Document, held in Jerusalem on Thursday, Sept. 6th.

The whole program was held at the Adenauer Conference center at Mishkenot Sha'a'nanim in Jerusalem. There were four partners in the project: the ICCJ, the Adenauer Foundation (our partners, as well, in Berlin in 2009), the ICCI—Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel, headed by Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, and the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christians Relations, founded by the late Daniel Rossing, of blessed memory.

The day was divided into 2 parts. From 14:00 to 18:00, there was a small (about 30 people) by-invitation seminar. All in Hebrew, no translation. The attendees included Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis, academics,educators. There were three presentations--yours truly, Ehud, and Hana Bendcowsky (of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations.) We also had a fair amount of lively discussion, facilitated by Sara Bernstein and Ophir Yarden.

We discovered some new people who I hope will become involved now, at least in the work of the ICCI. One is a young Modern Orthodox rabbi with a Ph.D. in communications. He has set up a center at Bar-Ilan University for Media and Religion. I hope that he can be helpful, both for his own contribution and also for his experience and contacts with media.

The other is someone I've known for years, a M'sorati rabbi who teaches Bible at Machon Schechter. Although he once attended a Scriptural Reasoning conference at Cambridge, he didn't know anything about inter-religious dialogue in Israel. I hope that now he does, and that he will participate.

Kudos to Ehud for translating and editing the booklet, and bringing it to print.

In the evening, we had around 80-100 people in the big auditorium. This included quite a few Christians, and we had simultaneous translation. We had a conversation that I chaired, involving one of the leading rabbis (Orthodox) in Israel, Yuval Sherlo, head of a Yeshiva in Petach Tikva, and Canon Housam Naoum, the Dean of the (Anglican) St. George Cathedral in Jerusalem ( a member of the International Steering Committee of our Abrahamic Forum. There was audience participation, as well, and I was very pleased that the discussion was on a high level and there were no "crank" questions. When the Israeli representative of the Adenauer Stiftung--Michael Mertes-- spoke, he committed his organization to continuing support of our Document. Ron Kronish showed a short clip from the film, "I am Joseph, Your Brother."

I think it was a good event, although it definitely showed us that we have lots and lots of work to do. Except for those of us who are deeply invested in inter-religious dialogue, most Israelis don't see it as a high-priority topic.