Dear Members of the ICCJ Family, dear Friends, dear Colleagues,
Just when we thought that our lives were on a steady course of improvement, the pandemic reminded us that as long as everyone is not protected by vaccines, no one is.
In our private lives we at times find it difficult to make long term plans. The same appears to be true for the ICCJ family. We had hoped to be able to announce our yearly June physical conference but that plan seems tenuous now. Like for our own families, we must act responsibly towards all our members, first and foremost those that may be more vulnerable or would have to resort to long haul travel in order to attend. Hence we will probably meet mostly online in 2022.
We are preparing an ambitious program for all of us to continue to engage with each other and I am happy to share some highlights.
A consultation at the beginning of February will help us explore what we say about the Jewish or Christian Other in teaching and preaching. We will engage with experts in order to gain a better perception of when we echo each other and when we dissonate, confronting our self-understanding and our inclination “to other” the other.
In March we will launch the celebration of the 75 anniversary of Seelisberg with a stimulating program, and in June we will hold a shortened online conference. More plans will follow and our website and newsletters will keep you informed, so please stay tuned!
None of us wants to be meeting in an online mode only and hopefully we can reinstate physical meetings as soon as conditions allow. We all miss the special quality of the encounter that a face to face meeting provides us with. In Hebrew the words for that are “Panim El Panim“, a plural that indicates the intrinsic diversity of every individual. Our faces are plural, they cannot be reduced to one facet. No screen can truly render this multiplicity, or the presence, the closeness, the depth and contours of a physical meeting.
Yet meeting online is undeniably a wonderful opportunity to engage across continents and time zones with friends and partners in dialogue who otherwise could not participate.
Using digital technologies allows us to reach out to newcomers and to better share our work. However in order to build trust and to engage in deep dialogue, we must seek to explore the complexity of our topics with even more precision. Indeed our contents can be misunderstood, or misused, and we struggle to address these misconstructions afterwards. We have an obligation to profundity in a world that increasingly faces shallowness, fake news and false affirmations. Ours is a demanding mission.
In this challenging endeavor, any success we experience is due entirely to you. I speak for the entire board when I express my gratitude to you all for responding positively whenever we ask you to contribute and participate.
Without your willingness we would not be able to pursue our raison d’être and remain the vibrant voice of Jewish-Christian dialogue that we aim to be.
For your help, and for the help and support of the ICCJ Board, the relentless work of ICCJ General Secretary Anette Adelmann and our dedicated staff in Heppenheim, I express my heartfelt gratitude.
May 2022 give us many opportunities to meet in whatever capacity is possible and may you all stay safe and healthy!