Sao Paulo meetings

This week ICCJ’s General Secretary Rev. Dick Pruiksma is visiting two Latin American countries: Brazil and Argentina. Half way his trip, moving on from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, there already are a lot of impressions, thoughts and ideas, resulting from many meetings here in Sao Paulo.

The aim of the visit to Sao Paul was to reconnect with the activites of our Brazilian member organization and all others, actively engaged in Jewish-Christian dialogue in this country. Sao Paulo no doubt is the place to be, because in this metropole close contacts between the Christian and Jewish communities exist for a long time. To improve contacts between ICCJ and our Brazilian friends and colleagues was the main purpose of the two day visit.

The program of the visit was organized by a young Jezuit priest, Anderson Pedroso, who visited Israel last year, met in Tel Aviv with ICCJ President Deborah Weissman and returned to Brazil, converted to Jewish-Christian dialogue and with the strong intention to be active in this field back home in Sao Paulo. Father Anderson introduced ICCJs General Secretary to a wide range of individuals and institutions. We met representatives of the Federation of Jewish communities in the State of Sao Paulo, Christian and jewish members of the Council for Jewish-Christian relations, a liaison body of the Jewish Federation and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sao Paulo, the offical ICCJ member, the Brazilian CCJ and last but not least with a young Jewish orthodox activist and teacher, Gilberto Ventura.

Very impressive was a visit to the favela Heliopolis, a slum in Sao Paulo. It supported the ideas living among younger people in Sao Paulo to bring the dialogue to the very grass root level of society. But certainly a highlight of this visit also was the meeting with about fifty young people in father Anderson’s church. The pictures taken that evening speak for themselves. Singing and praying, discussing and laughing, we spend a great evening together. There is some hope that this ICCJ visit to Sao Paulo might contribute to enhancing and coordinating the dialogue activites in this huge city on both the institutional and the grass root level.