Massah 27 now online – book reviews, forgiveness, Pope Benedict, John Pawlikowski and more

The Spring 2009 issue of Massah, the Journal of the New Zealand Council of Christians and Jews, is now available for download.  In this issue:

  • Editorial.
  • News and Notes
  • Book Reviews:
    • The Language of God (Collins) and The God Delusion (Dawkins)
    • The Book Thief (Zusak)
    • Journal (Berr)
    • The Misunderstood Jew (Levine)
  • Forgiveness in Judaism – Wendy Ross
  • Decline in Christian Numbers in the Middle East
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land – David Rosen
  • Father John Pawlikowski – biography and comment
  • Times and Seasons

Wellington CCJ workshop on Jewish-Christian Relations 16 June

The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews Presents

From Seelisberg to Berlin and Beyond
A Workshop on Jewish-Christian Relations
With Prof Paul Morris, Religious Studies Department, Victoria University of Wellington

Tuesday 16 June, 7.30pm at
The Wellington Jewish Community Centre
80 Webb St, Wellington

Jews and Christians met at Seelisberg in 1947 in an attempt to forge Jewish Christian co-operation after the Shoah (Holocaust). The International Council for Christians and Jews was created at this meeting and a ten point document, the Ten Points of Seelisberg formed a basis of understanding between Christians and Jews.

Sixty two years later the ICCJ issued a further document, the Twelve Points of Berlin which acknowledges changes and reforms Christians have made in their attitudes to Jews. But in the light of increased anti-Semitic acts in Europe, and local actions at the beginning of the year, have Christians really reformed?

Prof. Paul Morris will begin the evening with an over view of the effect of the Seelisberg document and an analysis of the twelve points of Berlin and we’ll discuss in workshops whether the two documents have affected relationships between Christians and Jews in New Zealand, and what the future might hold for Christian Jewish relations.

For more information, contact the Secretary, Dave Moskovitz, on 027 220 2202 or contact us on the form below…


ICCJ Conference Berlin 5-8 July

The International Council of Christians and Jews has announced its 2009 conference to be held 5-8 July 2009 in Berlin, with the theme “A Time for Recommitment: Jewish-Christian dialogue 70 years after the war and Holocaust”.

Sunday July 5, 2009

13.00 Women’s seminar
18.00 Reception
18.30 Opening dinner
20.00 Opening session with presentation of the new ICCJ document
including the ‘Twelve Points of Berlin’/’Zwölf Berliner Thesen’.
Guest: Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, German Minister for the Interior

Monday July 6, 2009

07.00 Denominational prayers at hotel
07.30 Breakfast
09.00 Meditative moment
09.30 Plenary session
Christian Key note speaker (to be invited)
Jewish Respondent: Dr. Edward Kessler, Cambridge
Theme: The necessity of developing theologies of Judaism that affirm its distinctive integrity.
11.00 Workshops (contributors and moderators to be invited) on theological themes
deriving from the Twelve ICCJ Berlin Points, such as:
– Paul and Judaism
– Mutual influencing of Jewish and Christian liturgy
– 21st century forms of supersessionism
– Reform of synagogue liturgy?
– How to work with the ‘Twelve ICCJ Berlin Points’ etc.
12.30 Lunch
14.00 Workshops (contributors and moderators to be invited)
on today’s issues in Jewish-Christian dialogue, such as:
– The Roman Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI
– The necessity of trilateral dialogue
– The political situation in the Middle East
– The input of Asia and Africa in dialogue. Etc.
15.30 Free evening in Berlin

Tuesday July 7, 2009.

07.00 Denominational prayers at hotel
07.30 Breakfast
09.00 Meditative moment
09.30 Plenary session
Jewish key note speaker: Prof. Ruth Langer, Boston College
Christian Respondent: Dr. Barbara Meyer, Jerusalem.
Theme: Re-examining Jewish texts and liturgy in the light of Jewish-Christian dialogue.
11.30 Outing by boat on the Spree river
15.30 Break at hotel
17.30 Celebration of the 60-th anniversary of the ‘Deutsche Koordinierungsrat’ at the
Französischer Dom. Special guest: Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor.
19.30 Reception and dinner

Wednesday July 8, 2009

07.00 Denominational prayers at hotel
07.30 Breakfast
09.00 Meditative moment
09.30 Plenary session.
A panel with a Jewish, a Christian and a Muslim speaker. (to be invited)
Theme: ‘The common commitment for justice in the global society’.
11.00 Workshops on the non-theological points from the ‘Twelve ICCJ Berlin Points’.
13.30 Visits in Berlin: The Holocaust Memorial, The Jewish Museum and other places.
18.00 Closing event and dinner.

Massah 26 now online

The Summer 2009 issue of Massah, the Journal of the New Zealand Council of Christians and Jews, is now available for download.  In this issue:

  • Editorial: Lest We Forget
  • For Your Diary: The 2009 Auckland CCJ programme
  • ‘Thank you Jean, Welcome Chris’ A change of Editor for Massah
  • Meetings of the International Council of Christians and Jews
  • Is it Possible to Teach the New Testament without being Anti-Semitic? (Jean Holm)
  • The Middle East Violence – Statement Dr Deborah Weissman
  • Review of Reading (Terry Wall)
  • Berlin’s Night of Broken Crystal (Paul Oestreicher)
  • Auschwitz TIMESONLINE (Ruth Gledhill)
  • On My Bookshelf
  • Turning a Minus into a Plus – The latest Catholic-Jewish Crisis (David Rosen)
  • Purim
  • Film: The Boy in Striped Pyjamas
  • Times and Season

ICCJ letter to Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

Heppenheim, 29 January 2009

Your Holiness,

The Executive Board of the ICCJ wishes to express its profound dismay at recent developments in relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish community. The Catholic Church has led the way for many decades in seeking to reverse centuries of dismissive theologies and hostile attitudes toward Jews, promoting honest and open conversation based on mutual respect and equality as co-heirs in covenant.

Ironically, the most recent disturbing event has occurred near the fiftieth anniversary of the summoning of the Second Vatican Council by Blessed Pope John XXIII. We refer to last week’s lifting of the 1988 excommunications of four bishops illicitly consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

We recognize that this is an internal matter of Catholic jurisprudence. We also recognize that the immediate cause of the excommunication was the illicit ordination of four individuals as bishops, in violation of the wishes of Pope John Paul II. It was not, as some have supposed, because these people were leaders in the Society of Saint Pius X, which explicitly rejects many of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, including the groundbreaking Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.

Nevertheless, the televised interview on 21 January 2009 of one of the formerly excommunicated bishops ― denying that six million Jews were slaughtered in the Nazi Holocaust, and denying the use of gas chambers ― is upsetting to many Christians and Jews, particular against the background of other SSPX-related assertions that propagate the antisemitism of such writings as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Statements issued in the last few days by the SSPX do not suggest any intention on their part to renounce such views.

To its credit, the SSPX has distanced itself from Bishop William’s denial of the Holocaust and forbidden him to speak publicly on historical matters. However, its website purveys several ideas in tension with or contradicting the authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church expressed in Nostra Aetate. The Society should publicly and explicitly endorse that conciliar declaration.

The sense of scandal being felt by many is not alleviated by claims that the private historical beliefs of the parties involved are irrelevant to a Church that has deplored, “the hatred, persecutions and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and by anyone” (Nostra Aetate, 4; forcefully reiterated by Pope John Paul II at the Synagogue of Rome, 13 April 1986).

Although it might be argued that reconciliation with Catholics who have been disenchanted for decades is a higher internal priority than continuing rapprochement with the Jewish people whose traditions have been delegitimized for centuries, it remains difficult to understand the lack of private, open communication between Catholic and Jewish leaders in advance of this decision. Commitment to “genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant” (Pope John Paul II’s prayer at the Mass of Pardon, 12 March 2000 and at the Western Wall, 26 March 2000) would seem to require the courtesy of prior conversation about a subject that so deeply touches Jewish lives. Conducting interreligious discussion through the media is a perilous venture.

The Executive Board of the ICCJ urges that the injury inflicted on Jewish-Christian relations by this internal Catholic action be publicly remedied as soon as possible by unambiguous clarifying statements from the highest levels of the Catholic Church reasserting all aspects of Nostra Aetate and that priority be given by both Jewish rabbinical and advocacy groups and Catholic officials in the Holy See and national bishops conferences to reviving frank and direct channels of communication between Catholic and Jewish leaders.
On behalf of the Executive Board of the ICCJ I remain respectfully yours,

Dr Deborah Weissman

ICCJ Statement on Gaza

The International Council of Christians and Jews issued the following statement today:

14 January 2009
International Council of Christians and Jews


We, the members of the Executive Board of the International Council of Christians and Jews, are deeply distressed and saddened by the current round of violence in the Middle East. We have always affirmed our commitment to the survival and security of the State of Israel. At the same time, we grieve for the loss of innocent lives on both sides.

Despite the political and ideological questions that may divide us, we re-affirm our common commitments to the sanctity of human life, the pursuit of peace as a religious imperative, and the importance of inter-religious and inter-group dialogue.

Of particular concern to us is the outbreak of antisemitic incidents, some violent, in different parts of the world, seemingly in response to the current difficult situation. There have also been incidents of discrimination against innocent Muslims living outside the region. We deplore this tendency to import the conflict into other regions.

We pray that the fighting will end as soon as possible and that Palestinians and Israelis will be able once again to sit together and resolve their conflict through negotiations based on mutual acceptance.

Dr Deborah Weissman

Christians and Jews to Boycott TV3


The Wellington Council of Christians and Jews is urging their congregants to boycott TV3 for one week starting this Thursday, 8 November. The action is a response to TV3’s airing of “Californication”, in which a nun gives oral sex to a lead character in front of a statue of Christ.

“Freedom of expression is a fundamental right”, said Harold Klug, the Jewish Co-Chair of the Council. “But TV3 is intentionally insulting and hurting large numbers of religious people in this country. We’re asking the general public to stand with us in an appropriate response – not watching TV3 for a week.”

Rev John McCaul, the Christian Co-chair said, “TV3’s actions may be legal, but they’re morally wrong. We encourage people to change the channel, and write a letter to TV3.”