The beautiful setting of this lake side town close to the French Alps attracted a larger than usual crowd and close to 100 participants came for the meeting, presided by Mrs Jacqueline Cuche, the president of the French organisation. Eliane Ventre, president of the local group, one of the forty groups that make up the French Amitié, and her team had prepared an excellent program.
As it is often the case, we were on theological grounds first and then proceeded to learn about local history. The first day was dedicated to an interesting confrontation of two very different voices. The theme was “The Jews and Jesus” and the first speaker, Massorti Rabbi Yeshayah Dalsace gave an intentionally detailed and slightly provocative description of possible perceptions of Jesus in the Jewish world throughout the ages. He made a point of saying how unclassifiable Jesus indeed was to Jews. This was followed by a lecture by Father Marc Rastoin sj. who is very much involved in our work in France. His intention was to demonstrate how important the Jewish perspective on Jesus was for Christians. The living tradition of the Jewish People and its present existence allowed Christians to reincarnate Jesus as a man of faith and prayer within his people. The mutual trust and visible esteem of the speakers for each other was inspiring.
On the following morning, the historian Philippe Boukara gave a fascinating talk about the Jewish resistance in France in general and more specifically in the area. Then we experienced the very moving testimony of Madame Jeanne Brousse, the first woman from this region to be awarded the Yad Vashem medal. After the war, she founded the group of Amitié-judéo-chrétienne in the area and despite her age never fails to participate in their activities.
After such a dense program we were entitled to a break and went on a boat tour of the lake. It rained so much that the view was totally obstructed but it did not matter: we had a lot to discuss.