Rabbi Ehud Bandel



ICCJ Executive Board Member

Describe how you became involved in interreligious dialogue and in the ICCJ:

As a rabbinical student in Jerusalem, I was very much interested in theological discussions and dialogue with Christians and Muslims. Shortly after my ordination in 1988, I joined the Israel Interfaith Association and I was asked to represent it at the annual ICCJ conference. However, the most significant interreligious activity with which I was involved that year, was through my work as the founding Director of "Rabbis for Human Rights" and my encounter with Christian Palestinian clergy working together to protect human rights and freedom of religion  and worship for Christians and Muslims in the West Bank. 

Tell us something about your first ICCJ conference:

My first ICCJ conference was in Montreal in 1988. I was sent there as delegate of the Israel Interfaith Association to the Young Leadership Conference. At the end of that meeting, there were elections to the YLC Board and although I did not have any previous experience, I was elected as Chair of the YLC, a position I held for two years.

Tell us briefly about your most powerful ICCJ memory:

The most powerful ICCJ memory I have is a YLC meeting in Jerusalem in the early 1990's. One of the participants was a young German theology student. At one very emotional session she told us that her late father was a Nazi, something that she discovered only after his death because he never spoke about it during his lifetime. Then she burst into tears, and I, the son of a holocaust survivor, had to comfort her. I thought to myself that it is much easier to be the second generation of the victim rather than second generation of the victimiser. Another powerful moment for me was reciting the "El Male Rachamim" - the Jewish memorial prayer in Auschwitz during the ICCJ conference in Poland.

How do you see the ICCJ evolving in the future:

I hope the ICCJ will continue to grow, expanding its activities into countries that so far did not have Jewish Christian Dialogue groups and deepening the already existing dialogue with the theological aspects that so far have been avoided.    

What/which questions are the closest to your heart:

Closest to my heart is the attempt to see religious value in the religion of the other and to refine our own religion from any trace of contempt and disrespect towards the other.

What is the greatest challenge you think the ICCJ will face in the coming years:

The greatest challenge we will face in the coming years is to broaden our scope to include the third Abrahamic religion - Islam, and to prevent the misuse of our joint Judeo-Christian ethos from turning into an unholy alliance against Islam.

What advice would you give to someone who is just getting involved in the ICCJ:

Have patience! Removing 2000 years of animosity and contempt cannot be done overnight! We should celebrate the achievements of the last 50 years and emphasize the half glass which is full rather than the empty part.