Blessed Holidays of Light

Holidays' Greetings and Reflections on Chanukkah and Christmas by the ICCJ President Bo Sandahl

Jews and Christians share a particular bond, one of siblings.
Throughout the calendar year, we are not only reminded of our unique traits and customs, but also of what we have in common. This is especially evident in the holiday season we have just entered. Even though the holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas have originated from two separate events, our celebrations have much in common. I am thinking about candlelight in the windows of people's homes and the gifts and festive meals we share with our loved ones.

Chanukkah and Christmas revolve around the kindling of lights. We light candles as a reminder of our purpose in the world, to serve as a light. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you". The words of the Prophet Isaiah can be seen as a summary of what it means to be human, and both Hanukkah and Christmas echo these ancient words.

Seek out your inner light! Faith is an exercise in hope and trust. Despair and resignation are no viable options for those who have faith. Inside each and every one of us there is a divine light, and we must let it shine.

Be a light for your neighbor! It is our task as humans in this world to disperse darkness and counter fear and irresolution. When the news is filled with hate and violence, every candle we light is a reminder that another world is possible. Peace and reconciliation is possible.

Interreligious dialogue is becoming increasingly important; Jewish-Christian dialogue is becoming increasingly important. There is still so much prejudice and animosity. Our challenge and our mission is to spread the message that friendship and dialogue is possible, necessary and rewarding. We need to present the positive examples to the world, and show that there are treasures to be found not only in what we have in common, but in our unique differences as well. Our lives are enriched by encountering our neighbors. Let dialogue be a light in the dark! 

With this greeting we, the Executive Board of the ICCJ, its General Secretary, and the staff of ICCJ's headquarters, the Martin-Buber-House in Heppenheim, extend to you our warmest wishes for the holidays of light.

Hag Hanukkah Sameach and a Blessed and Merry Christmas!


Editorial note by the ICCJ General Secretary:
I am very sorry that this holidays' message reaches our Jewish readers and friends only after Channukah due to technical and organizational obstacles. Please excuse this delay and kindly accept a belated "Channukah Sameach"!