I just arrived back home from a visit to Heppenheim and the ICCJ headquarters. Together with representatives from the German government, the federal state of Hessen, the district Bergstrasse and the city of Heppenheim we celebrated the 40 years that ICCJ have resided in the Martin-Buber-House. The Bergstrasse district owns the building and has also renovated it ahead of this important anniversary. Let me once again express gratitude for this supportive gesture and involvement in the ICCJ matters which is shown not only by the district board and the city of Heppenheim, but also from all levels of the German society!
We often say that having a history is closely connected to having a future, to feel trust and expectation of what lies ahead. Our memories of experiences, crisis, progress, and transformations in the past tell the story of the future. From history we learn what it means to have hope for the future. This is important in every aspect of life, for ICCJ and all our member organisations. In the Jewish tradition memory and remembering is stressed as a way of learning and honoring. What we do in our lifetime is a way of honoring past generations and also as a way of building bridges to future generations.
No doubt, the challenges are huge. From a global perspective we have climate changes, war, violence and terror. In the ICCJ perspective we see the necessity of intensifying and widening dialogue. We see the rise of nationalism and antisemitism, and the marginalisation of religion in society. No doubt, the challenges are huge!
A new year brings possibilities for hope and faith when we meet what lies ahead in the light of the past. We learn from the Jewish tradition that on Rosh haShanah people should search their souls, ask for forgiveness, take the necessary steps for improvement, and greet the New Year with confidence. Therefore Jews all around the world celebrate the New Year by greeting each other with the words: Shana Tovah uMetukah!
On behalf of the ICCJ Executive Board, the ICCJ General Secretary and ICCJ’s staff in Heppenheim, I wish all of our Jewish sisters and brothers blessed High Holydays.
Shanah Tovah uMetukah – a happy and sweet new year to all of you!