This week has been a busy and exciting one for all of us at CCJ.
On Tuesday we were delighted to partner with our friends at Jewish Book Week for our sold-out event Vive La Résistance! Writers the Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie and Caroline Moorehead spoke about their books Priests de la Résistance and A House in the Mountains: the women who liberated Italy from Fascism and reflected on the nature of resistance. Fergus movingly reminded us that resistance to fascism could take the form of armed uprising or it could be the otherwise seemingly simple courage of Church of Scotland missionary Jane Haining who held the hands of orphaned Jewish children at Auschwitz. Thank you to Fergus, Caroline, and Anne Sebba who chaired this fascinating evening.
On Wednesday we were proud to organise a once in a lifetime opportunity for alumni of our Yad Vashem seminars to hear the Christian theologian Professor Jürgen Moltmann. Prof. Moltmann is one of the most influential post-Holocaust theologians in the Christian world and engaging with his profound contribution to Christian thought and Christian-Jewish relations was an inspiring way for us to enable Yad Vashem alumni to continue their reflections on the Holocaust. Continue reading below for more on this very special event.
Whilst some of us were in London listening to Prof. Moltmann, our Campus Leadership Manager Katharine Crew was in Oxford for our Oxford Student Leaders’ “Temple Run” event. Katharine reports below on the success of this innovative approach to campus interfaith.
This weekend Deputy Director, the Revd Dr Nathan Eddy, and I will be delivering workshops on Christian-Jewish relations and antisemitism to Christian ordinands at St Hild Theological College, Mirfield, near Leeds. We’re looking forward to sharing more on this next week.
Sunday 8 March is International Women’s Day and below you can find a short film where Jewish and Christian women have shared for us why they are “faithfully feminist”.
Meanwhile, many Christians are continuing to observe Lent and the second of our Lenten reflections is below, this week brought to us by the Church of England Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Sarah Bullock. On Tuesday Jews will celebrate the festival of Purim. We’ve shared below some thoughts on Purim from our Jewish Scholar in Residence, Dr Lindsay Simmonds and we’re looking forward to celebrating in the office next week!
Whether you are observing Lent, looking ahead to celebrate Purim, or otherwise, we wish you a very good weekend.
Rob Thompson Senior Programme Manager
Pictured: The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie and Caroline Moorehead in conversation with chair Anne Sebba at Jewish Book Week
Professor Jürgen Moltmann addresses Yad Vashem Alumni Network
On Wednesday we were truly honoured to welcome Professor Jürgen Moltmann to speak to alumni of our Yad Vashem seminars for Christian clergy and church leaders. Prof. Moltmann was born in Germany in 1926, drafted into the German army in 1944, and became a prisoner of war of the British in 1945. Whilst a Prisoner of War in the UK he first began exploring Christian faith and theology and in the decades since he has become recognised as one of the most influential and most widely read Christian theologians of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Reflecting on the implications of the Holocaust for theology has been a significant influence on Prof. Moltmann’s writing and he spoke to us on the subject Jewish and Christian Theologies After Auschwitz.
Prof. Moltmann reflected on some of the key writers and thinkers in theology after the Shoah. He shared Richard L. Rubentsein’s work in After Auschwitz and the foundational stories and reflections of Elie Wiesel in Night and other works. Where was God at Auschwitz? he asked us. And then he answered: this is a question we can never answer nor forget. We must live with the unanswered question to the end. As well as this humility and silence in response to the Holocaust, Prof. Moltmann also suggested three key steps if reconciliation between human beings is to be a reality: firstly, confession of the collective past; secondly, acts of changing the heart as, “whilst contemporary generations are not guilty of Auschwitz, they are responsible for the shadows of Auschwitz in the present”; finally, justice is still possible. At the heart of all this, Prof. Moltmann argued, was the importance of remembering and reckoning with the truth. As he concluded: “Truth is the first act of freedom, however painful the truth may be.”
It was a moving and powerful experience to sit at the feet of a great scholar and together to reflect on the pain of the past and the opportunities for the future. We hope to make available a recording of Prof. Moltmann’s lecture, as well as a transcript, and we will update on this in the coming weeks.
Rob Thompson Senior Programme Manager
'Temple Run' at the University of Oxford
This week I was pleased to join students at the University of Oxford for a 'Temple Run'. Following the success of their scriptural reasoning series our Oxford Student Leaders arranged an event visiting four places of worship. We were given short tours of Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Mosque, Blackfriars Priory, Oxford Friends Meeting House, and Oxford Jewish Centre Synagogue. The evening finished with dinner together at the synagogue.
It was wonderful to visit these places of worship as an interfaith group. Throughout the event we were each able to share our own experiences of worship and to learn from one another. Thank you to all the places of worship who welcomed us and to our Student Leaders Adina and Florence, and Yaelle for organising this excellent event.
Katharine Crew Campus Leadership Manager
International Women's Day
CCJ has produced a short video for International Women's Day where we ask Christian and Jewish women from across our networks why they are faithfully feminist.
Always a highlight of the Leeds CCJ year, the Annual Concert organised for three primary school choirs was held on 27th February 2020 and featured local schools with a Church of England foundation, a Jewish school and a mixed school - respectively Allerton C of E, Brodetsky and Highfield, who were this year's hosts.
As usual, the school hall was packed to capacity and this was achieved with little effort on the part of CCJ as the schools’ circulars received their usual substantial response.
Before an enthusiastic audience of fellow pupils and proud parents and grandparents (many acting as amateur photographers), the schools sang three songs each and then combined to join in the finale with the appropriately titled “Sing”.
After the performance, Leeds CCJ provided refreshments for the singers and the audience and this allowed informal mixing in a friendly and congenial atmosphere
At the outset, Highfield headteacher Julie Colley welcomed everyone, Councillor Dan Cohen acted as compere and, at the close, Leeds CCJ joint Chair Anthony Conway thanked the choirs, their teachers, the host school & the audience.
Tim Friedman Leeds CCJ
Reflections on Purim
CCJ Scholar-in-Residence Dr Lindsay Simmonds reflects on the festival of Purim:
The upcoming festival of Purim (the Feast of Lots) is one of the two rabbinic festivals of the Jewish calendar, the other one being Chanukah. The additional five holy days of the Jewish year are the three Foot Festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the two Days of Awe (New Year and the Day of Atonement) – but these latter five are all mentioned in the Pentateuch and are associated with Temple Service as well as other festive obligations specific to each. What is remarkable about Purim and Chanukah is that they were established by the rabbinic leadership of the time; they are primarily associated with the the experience of the Jewish People in a particular historic moment, rather than through a God-given command. And, it is the festival of greatest joy.
Over the past few weeks we have suffered serious flooding in many parts of our country. I have seen first hand, in Shropshire, the flooding of homes, shops, businesses, community facilities, schools and places of worship. The forces of nature are powerful and we are grateful for those with knowledge and expertise who work hard on our behalf to manage flood risk and to
alleviate the effects of flooding. There are also countless people across our communities working to give assistance and support to one another, keeping us safe and caring for our needs. I am sure that we all give thanks for this.
In our places of worship, prayers are being said every day for our
communities and people from our congregations are showing practical and prayerful care for those around them. In the Scriptures we hear these words:
‘Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.’
Song of Songs 8: 7
Biblical scholars in both the Christian and Jewish traditions suggest differ-ing
interpretations of the text of the Song of Songs, some questioning whether or not it should even have been included in the canon, but the commen-taries suggest that Rabbi Akiva’s affinity for the Song of Songs stemmed from his reading of it as an extended allegory, expressing the loving rela-tionship between God and his people. The rabbis of the Zohar read the text as the choicest of all songs, expressed in the language of love that speaks of the past, present and future of this relationship.Through these words we are
reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love. For Christians this reminder is echoed in verses from the Letter to the Romans:
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels not demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Romans 8: 37 - 39.
During these weeks let us hold fast to the promise of God’s never failing and steadfast love for us.
Sarah Bullock Bishop of Shrewsbury
Applications open for 2020 Yad Vashem Seminar
Applications are now open for CCJ’s annual seminar at the International School of Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The seminar—which will take place Monday 12 to Thursday 22 October 2020—is open to ordained Christian clergy and lay church leaders. Now in its 14th year, the seminar is a unique opportunity for church leaders to learn about the Holocaust, pre-war Jewish European life, and post-Holocaust theology from the world’s leading experts. In doing so, participants will become part of our active network of over 250 "alumni" across the UK, committed to passing on Holocaust learning in their churches and communities, championing Christian-Jewish relations, and challenging antisemitism.
For more information on the programme and how to apply, please contact Senior Programme Manager, Rob Thompson, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Legacy of Revd James Parkes to be explored at the Wiener Library
From 16 – 20 March The Wiener Holocaust Library in London will host the travelling exhibition James Parkes and the age of intolerance. This exhibition—which CCJ has been proud to help bring to a number of cathedrals in the UK—reflects on the life and legacy of the Revd James Parkes, a key personality in the founding of CCJ and one of the leading thinkers, writers, and campaigners in twentieth century Jewish-Christian relations. You can find out more about the exhibition here.On Thursday 19 March 18.30-20.00 our Senior Programme Manager Rob Thompson will join a panel to discuss the work of James Parkes. Alongside Rob will be speakers Prof Tony Kushner, Marcus Sieff Professor in Jewish/non-Jewish relations at the University of Southampton, and Dr Barbara Warnock, Senior Curator and Head of Education at The Wiener Holocaust Library. Please do join us to reflect on Parkes’ extraordinary legacy and the repercussions of his work in contemporary issues as well. You can sign up for this free event here.
CCJ Branch Events
CCJ Bournemouth & Wessex Branch event
CCJ Bournemouth & Wessex welcome Dr Helen Spurling again to lead another series of three Study afternoons, organised through partnership between The Parkes Institute and The Council of Christians and Jews Bournemouth & Wessex:
The title for this afternoon is – ‘Unusual/unconventional women in the Bible: Session 1 – Eve’
Please note: It is necessary to register as handouts will be provided.
Time: 2.00pm - 5.00pm Sunday8th March2020 Venue: The Menorah Suite, Murray Muscat Centre, Glen Fern Road, Bournemouth, BH1 2LU
Please note that food and drink cannot be brought into the Synagogue. Refreshments will be available and a contribution of £3 is requested to cover costs.
For further information please email: email@example.com
CCJ Finchley Branch event
CCJ Finchley will be joined by guest speaker Sarah Derriey MA who will discuss the Historic Czech Scrolls. Refreshments will be available. Time: 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm,12th March 2020 Venue: Finchley Progressive Synagogue, 54, Hutton Grove, N12 8DR (with car park)
To get in contact with the Finchley branch please click here.
CCJ South West London Branch meeting
Time: Morning, Thursday 19th March 2020 Location: Wiener Library, Russell Square
On the morning of Thursday 19th March CCJ South West London Branch have organised a visit for a small group to the Wiener Library in Russell Square to see the travelling exhibition about the life and works of James Parkes, a founder of the CCJ and a lifelong campaigner against intolerance and anti-semitism. It will also include a short tour of the library and explanation of its activities - see https://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/James-Parkes
If you would like to go, please contact James Leek: firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible - numbers are limited.
CCJ Birmingham Branch meeting
Rabbi Margaret Jacobi and Father Allen Morris explore Abraham in Jewish and Christian Traditions.