Letter of the President

Dear friends:Since the Jewish festival season, I feel that life has been like a whirlwind for me. I would like to share with you a few experiences and observations:

1)      In August, I spent 12 days in South Africa. It was my second visit to that beautiful and fascinating country. The first visit was in 1978, and in the ensuing 33 years, the country has changed dramatically. There are still many problems, but my feeling is that they are moving in a positive direction. I participated in some interfaith gatherings. The ICCJ does not have a member organization there (should I say: not yet?) I hope to maintain some contacts with the people I met—perhaps we can develop some organizational ties with them.

2)      I spent 10 days recently in North America. One of the factors motivating my trip was the annual conference of our member organization, the CCJR—the Council of Centers for Jewish-Christian Relations—that numbers about 35 campuses. It was an excellent conference, and I wish to reiterate my congratulations to the CCJR for contributing an added dimension of academic, intellectual and theological depth to our inter-religious dialogue world-wide.

 3)      In addition to the conference, and lectures at the very active Centers located at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA and Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, I also visited Montreal. There is a wonderful local dialogue group there, headed by one of my predecessors as president of the ICCJ, Dr. Victor Goldbloom. There are a number of local dialogue groups throughout Canada but they are not organized into a regular national structure at this time-- I sincerely hope that they will be able to achieve that.

 4)      In the next few months, I plan to be in Germany three times and once each in the Czech Republic, Australia and New Zealand. We also hope to hold a major conference on our Berlin document here in Israel (in Hebrew) this spring, co-sponsored by our local member organization, the Inter-religious Coordinating Council in Israel.

 5)      In October, we had an intensive session of dialogue between the ICCJ and the authors of the Kairos Palestine document. The meeting took place in the Palestinian town of Bet Jalla, with the active support and participation of representatives of churches in Europe (from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.)

This is a difficult but very important dialogue. There is an oft-quoted remark attributed to Zhou Enlai, former Premier of China. I guess an “urban legend” has it that when asked about the results of the French Revolution of 1789, he replied, "It is too soon to say." According to Wikipedia, he was actually being asked about the impact of the student riots of 1968. But in either case, he was pointing out that we don’t know right away what effects our actions have. I feel that way about our Kairos dialogue. It is too soon to assess its success. The first measure of success will be if and when we have another meeting with the group.

 In the meantime, we in the ICCJ are busy preparing for a meeting of the Abrahamic Forum Steering Committee in Heppenheim in December. I am sure that ICCJ V-P Rabbi Ehud Bandel will have much to report on that when it is over. Best wishes to all--Debbie