By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Senior Anglican and Jewish leaders met this week for the latest meeting of the Anglican-Jewish Commission.
The Commission is the vehicle for the official dialogue between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The annual meetings usually alternate between Lambeth Palace and Jerusalem; but this week's meeting took place in Manchester, England. 'There is a strong Jewish population here and there is a vibrant Anglican Diocese,' the Anglican Co-Chair of the Commission, Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said.
He added: 'We've had the opportunity to meet with local Jewish people, local Anglicans, and also with young people from the Jewish tradition, the Christian tradition and the Islamic tradition who work together; so as well as our own discussion, we have also had the opportunity to hear about what is happening in this community.'
The young people were members of the Forum for the Discussion of Israel and Palestine (FODIP). 'These students shared their experiences of partaking in innovative educational programmes that had equipped them with the language and tools to engage in fruitful conversations over contentious matters related to the Holy Land, as well as to address issues raised about the Holy Land in their own local communities,' the Commission said in their communiqué. The Commission members said that they 'were impressed by the maturity and impact of these students.'
Archbishop Michael said that the commission 'draws together people who are very conscious of conflict, and yet seek to transcend it through sharing ideas of mutual respect, sharing ideas of the shared identity under God while at the same time having different traditions and wanting to converse with an openness and curiosity.'
Rabbi David Rosen, the Interfaith Adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, said that the Commission was established to promote deeper understanding between the leaders of the two communities and 'to build up friendships, to be able to address challenges today that face our communities equally, and to see ways in which we can offer a message in society, in science and in the major challenges of our contemporary world for the benefit of humanity at large.'
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, offered reflections on the current situation in his city. He called for 'increased efforts for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land,' the communiqué said.
Rabbi Eliezer Weisz gave a presentation on the meeting's theme, 'Remembering the Past, Committing to the Future,' expounded on the concept of memory in the Jewish tradition. He said that 'its purpose is to internalise and express the ethical messages born out of the people's collective experience.'
He spoke of the 'six types of memory mentioned in the Pentateuch which are summarised in the daily prayer book after the morning service,' the communiqué said. 'He added to these the memory of Jerusalem and the Temple after their destruction, central to having guaranteed the future renewal of Jewish life in the people's ancestral homeland.'
The Anglican-Jewish Commission is due to meet in Jerusalem next year. Members expressed their “hope of holding sessions” at St George's Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem, at the invitation of Archbishop Suheil Dawani.