ICCJ President's Greetings for 2019

A New Year’s Greeting to all engaged in Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Time flies!

We are closing another year of Jewish-Christian dialogue. To see what it has brought  we need to look at our own personal experiences as well as those we share with others. Let me just point out one thing: 2018 was a discouraging year when it comes to Anti-Semitism. We will remember what happened in Pittsburgh, just to mention one horrific example, for a long time. We who are involved in interreligious dialogue must see this as a clear sign that we have to strengthen our efforts to promote understanding of and between different traditions and beliefs. To work together with dignity and respect for the other.   

In the Christian ecumenical movement today you often hear about receptive ecumenism. This understanding of ecumenism stresses learning and listening: What can my tradition learn from yours? Ecumenism has too often been focused towards achieving and producing common statements of beliefs. In search of the commonalities, much of the richness of individual traditions have been left out. Statements become basic rather than enlightening. Receptive ecumenism on the other hand stresses  listening, learning, respect, and to see one’s own tradition in the light of others. It’s about widening perspectives and to be challenged and exhorted to go on studying.

I think Jewish-Christian dialogue from the beginning is what the intention of receptive ecumenism is about. In Jewish-Christian we don’t try to convince each other, or proclaim what is common Jewish and Christian beliefs. Jewish-Christian dialogue is about relationships, learning, curiosity, an exploration into the other’s set of religious beliefs and practices. But also a shared battle against preconceived ideas, misconceptions, stereotypes and hatred. This is a journey in dialogue that’s been going on for more than seventy years and still I think that this is just the beginning. There is much more to come and there are new generations that needs to be introduced to interreligious dialogue.

So where do we go from here and what can we expect from the new year? The international conference 2019 will be held in my hometown, Lund in Sweden. The theme of the conference is Transformations Within and Between. My hope is that this conference will broaden perspectives, enrich our learning and allow us to see the beauty of different traditions. Welcome to Lund!  

On behalf of the ICCJ Executive Board, General Secretary Anette Adelmann and the staff at the Martin Buber House in Heppenheim I wish you all Happy New Year!

Bo Sandahl, ICCJ President