Chanukah in the Vatican

December 20, 2017 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Jeremy Jones, Director of International and of Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), celebrated the first night of Chanukah in an unusual, very special venue – the Vatican.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, Jeremy Jones, Rabbi Dan Polish

At the end of an intensive schedule of consultations and discussions with senior Vatican officials, the delegation of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) met in the Pontificate Library for candle lighting, latkes, donuts and conversation.
Cardinal Kurt Koch, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who had been the final speaker on the formal IJCIC programme, then spoke at the celebration on the theme of how Catholics and Jews each spread light through good works, and how the light is magnified when we work together.
Rabbi Daniel Polish, the chair of IJCIC, observed that it would have been unimaginable for the grandparents of any of the Jewish participants to think their grandchildren would be taking part in the ceremony – and that it would also have been unimaginable for the grandparents of the Catholic participants.
IJCIC is recognised internationally as the official Jewish interlocutor with the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and other international religious bodies.
The Vatican discussions involved a twelve person delegation from the USA, Israel, Italy and Australia, which covered a wide range of issues with, amongst others, Cardinals ad Archbishops.
Earlier in December, a larger IJCIC group, which included delegates from Greece, Ukraine and Austria as well as US, Israel and Australia, was the Jewish component in a programme in Jerusalem with the Orthodox Christian Churches.
Titled “Celebrating 40 years of Dialogue: The significance of Jerusalem in the two faith traditions”, the meeting featured participation from the most senior figure in Orthodox Christianity, His All Holiness Bartholomew 1, His Beatitude the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Jerusalem, and senior Orthodox figures from Greece,
Sweden, Serbia, Cyprus, the USA, Egypt and elsewhere.
Jeremy Jones was the first person from Australia ever to be included in this peak level international dialogue.
“A frequent refrain was that it is remarkable that the interactions are positive, constructive and even friendly, after a long period of progress to reach this situation”, Jeremy Jones said.
Jeremy Jones paid tribute to Rabbi David Rosen and the American Jewish Committee, for not just their role in promoting dialogue with many partners but for making it possible for Australia to be included in global advocacy.

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