Philip A. Cunningham, Philadelphia
Greetings from Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection!
Best wishes for a Blessed Christmas to our Christian friends and Hag Hanukkah Sameach to our Jewish friends!
May all of us and the whole world be blessed with a year of growing peace and rapprochement in the coming year of 2016!
Liliane Apotheker, Paris
ICCJ First Vice-President
Dear Friends of the ICCJ Family,
I travel between Paris and London and love to compare the festive mood in these two splendid cities. This year, Paris is where I will be celebrating Hannukah.
Sadly, our planet has not had a good year. Too many terrorist attacks have killed and maimed thousands around the world, most recently in Paris, the city of Lights.
Yet, Jewish-Christian dialogue, more conscious than ever of its acute importance, has lit up our souls with a vibrant statement regarding the "Jubilee of Fraternity" to come.
May this strenghten all our member organizations in the world in their essential work.
"Fraternité", Fraternity is perhaps the most important of the three words that France inscribes on all its public buildings. Though the state can strive to enforce the other two, Liberty and Equality, Fraternity is the realm of religions and humanism.
We have a fundamental role to play, perhaps even more than ever before.
May our festivals of Lights help us overcome momentary darkness.
Hag Hanukkah Sameach! Merry Christmas!
Michael Trainor, Adelaide
ICCJ Second Vice-President
Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday and New Year blessings to you, your family and friends from Adelaide, South Australia.
This time of the year we are in Summer. It’s a beautiful, but very warm season … beach adventures, watching the game of cricket as Australia plays against the West Indies, and, of course, church services.
May the year to come be one of blessing, peace and harmony for you and right across our universe.
Pavol Bargár, Prague
ICCJ Board Member
I wish us all a meaningful passing of the holiday season.
May it be a time for us to find enough strength and inspiration from our faith traditions to counter fear, hostility, and hatred and to bring reconciliation, peace, and justice wherever we go.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Vesele Vianoce a štastný nový rok! (Slovak)
Ehud Bandel, Jerusalem
ICCJ Board Member and IAF Co-Chair
Dear members of the ICCJ and IAF,
From the holy city of Jerusalem, I am delighted to send you season’s greetings.
A.D. Gordon, the spiritual leader of Labor Zionism said: "There will be no victory of light over darkness until we understand the simple truth, that instead of fighting the darkness we must intensify the light".
May the coming festivals of lights inspire us all to intensify the light of peace, tolerance and mutual respect and to remove the darkness of bigotry, animosity and mistrust.
Samuel Szteinhendler,Santiago de Chile
ICCJ Board Member
In these days, in which Jews and Christians celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, when we are on the threshold of the hopeful arrival of a new year, we want to express our grief in face of the many events throughout the world, that contradict the spirit of light and peace that these dates represent. In particular, we regret that God's name is being desecrated, using it to commit serious crimes against innocent victims.
The God recognized by the great religions, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is a God of peace and brotherhood. Therefore, we ask for Your help, dear God, to be peacemakers in all corners of society, we implore His Light, to dispel the darkness, enlighten those who have followed the wrong path of violence, and lead them to respect the divine image present in every man and woman living in the world.
The holidays we are celebrating motivate us to not discourage while facing manifestations of hate; those holidays help us to discover the beauty of being different, and encourage us to spread everywhere the joy that comes from the God of Peace.
With that feeling in heart I send my greeting and share this sincere desire for all wishing Happy Hanukkah, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year!
Debbie Weissman, Jerusalem
ICCJ Immediate Past President
While Christmas is one of the three most important days of the Christian calendar, Chanukah is a minor Jewish festival. What they share in common is that both are festivals of the winter solstice, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, which is the location of the Holy Land in both traditions. Chanukah comes at the darkest time of the solar year and of the lunar month. Both festivals celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, in the world of nature, in our societies and our souls.
This theme is certainly of special importance as we mark the end of 2015, one of the most difficult years we have known in recent history.
We all need to light many candles, both literally and figuratively.
I sincerely hope that 2016 will be a better year - a less violent and more peaceful one for the world. About two and a half years ago, we in the ICCJ issued a statement about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For the title, we used a quotation from the Lutheran Bishop of this region, Munib Younan. His words are as relevant today as they were then: “As long as you believe in a living God, you must have hope.”
Brad Seligmann, Washington DC
As we enter into the darkest nights of the year for the northern hemisphere, we often find ourselves celebrating with light: As my church community here in the United States was lighting a candle for the second Sunday of Advent, our Jewish friends and neighbors were lighting the shamash to begin the first night of Hanukkah.
Both communities together, each with two candles shining in the darkness!
Looking towards the end of December we are graced with another parallel: While many of our Muslim friends will be commemorating the birth of the Prophet on Mawlid, I will be at Christmas vigil.
Once again we have the opportunity for dialogue, learning from one another as we share our sacred holidays.
May these days of darkest night lead into enlightened conversations, and may we as always strive toward peace and understanding.
Wishing you joyous holidays and a happy new year to come!