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Christian and Jewish leaders seek 'transforming
dialogue' in journey to Israel and Palestine

New York, September 19, 2005 --Seventeen Jewish and Christian leaders are journeying to Israel and Palestine September 18-23 with the stated purpose of engaging in a transforming dialogue about Israeli-Palestinian issues.

“That Jewish and Christian leaders representing their denominations and organizations are going on this trip together is in itself a significant statement of trust and hope,” said the Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, National Council of Churches USA. “Many of us have been there before and have seen the realities on the ground and met people who are suffering as well as the religious and political dignitaries. The difference this time is that we are hoping to see and hear with the eyes and ears of the other, those same realities and voices. We are hopeful that the trip will help transform us and our dialogue table.”

The seventeen leaders have issued the following statement. 

JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN LEADERS ON MISSION OF PEACE TO JERUSALEM

For over a year, leaders of the mainstream Christian and Jewish communities of the United States have been working to constructively address issues that concern the two communities, of which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by far the most serious. Standing on the rich tradition of working together to address questions of social justice, seventeen leaders representing eight Christian denominations and national organizations and six national Jewish organizations and religious movements, will spend five days together from September 18-23, in the land that is holy to both faiths.

The trip seeks to demonstrate that Christians and Jews can work together and dialogue on peace even when there is disagreement on specific policies and solutions, and to enable the participants to become even more effective advocates for peace.

The group plans to meet with Israeli and Palestinian public officials, religious leaders and scholars. Delegates will spend time together listening to the voices of Israelis and Palestinians who have suffered in this conflict. Each group will plan two days of the visit. 

These religious leaders hope to find new common ground in their commitment to peace to more effectively mobilize their communities of faith, elected officials and fellow citizens on behalf of a negotiated peace settlement.  Further, they hope to more effectively support those Palestinians and Israelis who are courageously working to establish a secure, viable and independent Palestinian state alongside an equally secure State of Israel.

The Jewish and Protestant leaders who will be making this journey are:

Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, Director of Interfaith Affairs of the Anti-Defamation League

Vidette Bullock Mixon, Director, Corporate Relations, General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, United Methodist Church

Dr. David Elcott, U.S. Director, Interreligious Affairs of The American Jewish Committee

Ethan Felson, Director, Domestic Concerns  of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Richard Foltin, Legislative Director and Counsel of The American Jewish Committee

Dennis Frado, Director, Lutheran Office for World Community, Evangelical Lutheran Church In America

Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, Director, Peace & Justice Ministries, The Episcopal Church

Dr. Darrell H. Jodock, Chair, Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church In America

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, Director of Jewish Affairs of The American Jewish Congress

Dr. Peter Makari, Executive for the Middle East and Europe of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, National Council of Churches

Mark Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center, Union of Reform Judaism

Rev. John E. Roberts, Alliance of Baptists

Rev. Dr. Jay Rock, Coordinator for Interfaith Relations, Presbyterian Church(USA)

Emily Soloff, Executive Director, Chicago Chapter of The American Jewish Committee

Mark Waldman, Director of Public Policy, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church.

Contact NCC News: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252, pjenks@ncccusa.org


 

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