Co-sponsored by the Protestant Church of the Rhineland and the local Lutheran community, under the leadership of Bishop Mounib Younan, the theme for this year’s Workshop was “Be prophetic!” There were about 25 participants who included, for the first time, a representative of the German Jewish community, Michael Rubinstein. The German organizers were our friends and colleagues Barbara Rudolph and Dr Volker Haarmann of the EKiR.
This year’s Israeli-Palestinian and Jewish-Christian Workshop took place in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and, primarily, Bet Jallah. Most of the sessions involved presentations and discussions around the theme. There was also an excursion to a Lutheran school, Dar al-Kalima, in Bethlehem, which is attended by both Christian and Muslim students, where the children are educated for living with the Other. One evening was devoted to participating in a meeting of the veteran (50 years!) Christian-Jewish dialogue group in Jerusalem, the Rainbow. The 2009 Berlin Document of the ICCJ was referred to during the gathering.
Representing the ICCJ were Anette Adelman, our General-Secretary; Rev. Dick Pruiksma, ICCJ consultant, and Dr Debbie Weissman, ICCJ’s Immediate Past President.
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As you may remember, in 2013, the ICCJ Executive Board issued a document called, “As long as you believe in a living God, you must have hope” with direct reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The title is a quotation from Bishop Younan, who not only heads the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, but also heads the Lutheran World Federation. Some of the participants in this annual workshop have been involved for two or all three of the years, but for some, it was their first time.
The situation on the ground in Israel and the West Bank may seem desperate, but as religious leaders, we have to find horizons of hope. The trust and fellowship that have developed among the Workshop participants seem to be one such point of light. We shared our dreams for the future, talked about the crucial meaning of Jerusalem, and explored strategies for social and educational change. It was a wonderful experience for those involved, but we all feel the need to translate our insights into action and share them with the wider communities. We hope to meet again next year but are looking for more ways to remain in contact even before then.