Letter from the President

Dear friends:It’s been quite a while since I have written to you. This has been a very hot summer in Israel—I’m referring to the weather. I was glad to get away twice, both times on ICCJ business. The first was late June, early July, when I went to Manchester for our very successful annual conference. I want to thank all those who worked hard for this event. A friend here in Jerusalem has been very jealous of me ever since I told him that our closing dinner was held in the Manchester United football club, Old Trafford. We again congratulate the CCJ of the UK on 70 years of Jewish-Christian dialogue. I then had the opportunity to visit Ireland, where I met, for a second time, with the CCJ in Dublin, and spent the rest of the week travelling around that very beautiful island.

This past week, I spent a few days in Leuven, Belgium, with the ICCJ Theology Committee. We were a group of 17 Jews and Christians from several European countries, the US, Australia and Israel.  As you know, the theme of our deliberations is “Promise, Land and Hope.” We are considering such important questions as the relationship of the Land and State of Israel, the respective land traditions in our different faiths, post-colonial and liberation theologies in the Palestinian community, etc.  Perhaps the most basic of the questions is the relationship between the theologies that have emerged from decades of Jewish-Christian dialogue in the West (sometimes called “post-Holocaust theologies”) and the current crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian encounter.

The chair of the project is ICCJ VP Professor Phil Cunningham. He worked closely with a professor from the Catholic University in Leuven, Didier Pollefeyt. The high level of the discussions was matched by the congeniality and collegiality of the rest of our experience. 

In between those two European jaunts, I had the opportunity here in Jerusalem to meet with a friend from Oslo who brought me up to date about inter-religious dialogue in that part of the world. ICCJ VP Rabbi Ehud Bandel and I are now working very closely with Dr. Ron Kronish, Director of our Israeli member organization the ICCI, to organize a conference in Hebrew in early September, on the Berlin Document and its relevance for Israel.

As our Muslim friends finish the holy month of Ramadan, Jews throughout the world are beginning the count-down to the New Year. In the month of Elul, which will begin over the weekend, many Jews make spiritual preparations for the High Holiday season. I hope to enroll in a program of text study. I often feel strange about the use of the word “retreat” to refer to a time of study, reflection and prayer—I would hope that a more appropriate term would be “advance.”

Enjoy the end-of-the-summer—Debbie Weissman, Jerusalem