Interfaith at home

October 26, 2010 Agencies
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The president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, has hosted  local and Belgian Christian guests involved in Jewish-Christian relations at an interfaith evening.

John Searle 2nd rt and guests

John Searle’s evening featured a fascinating discussion of the lives of Jews and Christians here and in Europe and the issues faced by our respective communities. Frans and Renee van den Brand from Antwerp, Belgium, were accompanied by 2 Sisters of Sion, Patricia Watson and Mary Lotten. They represented the perspective of Christian leaders working alongside leaders of the Jewish faith involved in Jewish-Christian relations.

The conversation ranged from the relationships of Jews and the broader community in Antwerp, Europe and Australia; the Flemish Hassidic community; the recent movement of the diamond trade to India causing major job losses, particularly for Antwerp Jews; the positive change in Rome’s attitude towards Jewish people; the need to address the ignorance that causes antisemitism and the relationship between events in the Middle East and antisemitism.

John Searle said: “It is heartening to hear people of other faiths espousing the rights of Israel to exist, the misrepresentation of Israel in the world-wide media and the ignorance that causes much anti-Semitism that could, and should, be ameliorated from the pulpit”.

Searle added: “The reason JCCV engages in interfaith work is to build bridges between faiths through understanding, respect and trust. The outcomes of such relationships can only be positive, enabling active discourse between communities to resolve issues in order to live and work together harmoniously”.

The Sisters of Sion’ philosophy focuses on a respect for other beliefs and cultures. They established a Centre for Jewish Christian relations in Kew in 1970 and work diligently to dispel antisemitism. Around the world they lecture on the Jewish roots of Christianity to seminaries and congregations, take people on trips to Israel to explore Jewish-Christian heritage and actively work with Rome to create positive Jewish-Christian documentation and policy.

Frans and his wife are very active in all aspects of inter faith work. They conduct tours through the Hassidic neighborhoods of Antwerp (including a meal at the now famous kosher restaurant); they counteract the prevailing European trend of anti-Israel sentiment and alongside the Antwerp Sisters of Sion, conduct tours to Israel starting in the north and working their way down through sites of significance.

Searle has offered full support to the Sisters’ work in Melbourne and the groups will work together in partnership.

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