|8th ACADEMIC CONSULTATION BETWEEEN JUDAISM & ORTHODOXY|
|Wednesday, 12 June 2013 07:56|
“The Spiritual and Physical Environment:
Respecting Our World, Respecting One Another”
Coordinated by: The Liaison Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Office of Interreligious and Intercultural Affairs and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations
At the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, distinguished theologians, scholars, and religious leaders met in Thessaloniki, Greece, on June 6, 2013 to commemorate the solidarity Jewish and Christian Orthodox citizens of Thessaloniki displayed at the time of the Shoah orchestrated by the Nazis in World War II, and to discover what processes are necessary to sustain that level of solidarity in the world today. The list of participants is attached.
After being received by the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Ioannis Boutaris, and high level governmental representatives, the consultation opened with a welcome message from His all-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Other messages were delivered from the Primates of the Orthodox churches and both Israeli and Greek government officials.
Introductory remarks by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France focused on His All Holiness’ declaration of 2013 as The Year of Solidarity. He pointed out that Jewish and Christian Orthodox living in Greece during World War II achieved solidarity, demonstrated by the fact that the Archbishop of Athens, Damaskinos, formally protested the actions of the Nazi occupational authorities.
In his introductory remarks, Professor Lawrence Schiffman, Chair, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, (IJCIC) identified the mutuality of existence and co-existence in the Jewish and Christian traditions as the foundation for solidarity. With Rabbi Joel Meyers moderating, Professor Dr. Angeliki Ziaka, and Rabbi Dr. David Berger also offered their views on this topic.
During the second session, Rabbi Chaim Weiner, Professor Shira Lander of Rice University, and Rev. Father D. Safonov from the Moscow Patriarchate examined how religious values influence and interact with society. Professor Georges Prevelakis of the Sorbonne provided an analysis of the geopolitical repercussions of these issues.
Building upon the foundation of religion’s influence on society, Rabbi Dr. Richard Marker moderated a session about our religious obligation to care for the earth, and helped cast a vision for how adherents to the faith traditions can embrace stewardship. Rabbi Julian Sinclair and Rev. Dr. Heikki Huttumen presented their viewpoints and identified ways in which stewardship could be addressed and practiced.
The delegates to the consultation visited the Monastiriotes Synagogue, the Holocaust Monument, and the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, and were welcomed at the Jewish Community Center. David Saltiel, President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, addressed the group, along with Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, and Rabbi Aharon Israel, Rabbi of Thessaloniki. Speakers offered perspectives on the life of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki and its relationship with their Orthodox Christian neighbors. Professor Schiffman and Betty Ehrenberg, Vice Chair and incoming Chair of IJCIC, had the opportunity to meet with Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki.
After establishing a historical precedent and identifying the possibilities for positive effects religious traditions can have on society, the fourth session addressed the obstacles and challenges to establishing solidarity. Rabbi Eric Greenberg and His Grace Bishop Petroniu of Romania discussed issues to help advance cooperation between Judaism and the Orthodox Church.
Closing addresses by Professor Schiffman and Metropolitan Emmanuel urged members of all faith communities to combat any new forms of racist ideology, of anti-Semitism, religious prejudice and all forms of discrimination. The faith communities must be faithful in pursuing justice and stand firm for interreligious solidarity.
Given recent tragic events around the world—environmental, political, and social—the need for interreligious consultations such as this one is all the more relevant as we work together to respect our world and respect one another.