Category Archives: interfaith dialogue

Message from ICCI about Gaza

I’ve been getting lots of emails from both the right and left about how to handle the Gaza situation. I thought I would share with you Rabbi Ron Kronish’s letter from the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel’s monthly newsletter. I highlight this organization because it’s one that you may not know about, I used to work there, and it is working here on the ground in Israel on interfaith dialogue–a difficult task to accomplish in a climate of war. I always enjoy catching up with the work of this organization and hearing Ron’s eloquent words.

Dear friends,

I write this monthly message to you in the midst of the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.  This is a very delicate and dangerous time in Israel and the region.

On the one hand, the state of Israel needs to protect its citizens, as any other state would have the responsibility to do the same. When Hamas sends rockets and missiles to Israeli communities all over the southern part of the country, with almost one million Israeli citizens in danger, the leaders of the state cannot refrain forever from some defensive action.

Continue reading


Rosh Yeshiva of Pardes Goes to Amman


I got this in a Pardes email and thought it was really interesting. The Rosh Yeshiva of Pardes went to a trialogue conference in Amman, Jordan recently and wrote about his experiences. A few months ago, Landes also was part of a panel discussion about religious responses to the Rav Kook tragedy.

I have a lot of respect for Rabbi Landes on many levels. Not only is he a smart guy but also he has the ability to connect with people whether they are students or Pardes donors. I also know that without his traipsing about the U.S., Pardes wouldn’t be as well supported as it is.

Enjoy the article…

Sunday, May 25th

After a wonderful Shabbat, I saw my son Isaac off very early Sunday morning as he returned to his combat unit that surrounds Nablus, a seething hotbed of Islamic radical fundamentalism, to guard four Jewish settlements (several of which have their own brand of fundamentalism). It usually takes me a few hours to fully get a grip on myself, but I was off on my own “mission” – to participate in the International Scholars’ Abrahamic Trialogue, this year held in Jordan. The thrust of the conference would touch on peace. So whatever my own personal politics (as most of the Israeli electorate, it tends to veer; now keeping my son’s unit safe seems to exert a great force – again like most of Israel), we always have to work the peace side. That much I know from my study of Judaism.

Instead of flying, a group of us drove. In the van was my old friend R. Abe Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who arranged for my participation, the distinguished thinkers R. Yitz and Blu Greenberg (Yitz had a significant impact upon Abe and me when we studied as undergraduates with him at Yeshiva) and a wise and witty religious Israeli businessman from the neighborhood who spends a lot of time in Arab countries and is best left unnamed. The trip up was a good idea – going through the dry and dusty Beit She’an Valley provided a transition, until we arrived at the bridge that crosses over. The normal bureaucracy was complicated by the fact that we had entered Jordan through the wrong bridge – our visas at the van on that side were not waiting. However, frowns were soon enough (some delay) smoothed over with smiles, chuckles and the application of the universal lubricant for getting the wheels moving.  Continue reading

Yom Haatzmaut: Guest Entry from Ron Kronish, ICCI

Dear friends,

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the rebirth of the state of Israel, which takes place on May 8th, this year, I take this opportunity to share with you a few personal reflections.

My earliest memories of the State of Israel are centered around my father, Rabbi Leon Kronish, of blessed memory, who was one of the leading Reform Zionist rabbis from the 1960’s till the mid-1980’s. His activism for Israel– especially in the years after the Six Day War, when I was studying at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts and HUC-JIR in New York—was infectious and inspiring. Over the years, when I have been asked why I made aliyah (with my family in June 1979, almost 29 years ago), I respond by saying that I took my father’s sermons too seriously! Continue reading

International Fund for Palestinian-Israeli Peace

Hello all,

You know how much of a proponent I am of resolving the conflict here and for the creation of a Palestinian state. But you don’t have to be a left-winger to see the logic in creating a fund that fosters people to people grassroots initiatives and dialogue efforts.

I think negotiations on the political track have to continue, but I have become even more convinced that they have to be accompanied by on-the-ground efforts. How else are we supposed to overcome the massive ignorance and hatred if it is not accompanied by concerted education and dialogue efforts?

Organizations like ICCI are doing great work, but to be honest, it’s just a drop in the bucket. Especially compared to the massive amounts of propaganda in the Palestinian sphere, and the biased news that most Israelis consume. So much more could be done.

There is a petition circulating that calls for the creation of an international peace fund. But there’s not much time because the donor community is convening in May. Please click on this link to sign it NOW.

JPost Article from ICCI

It’s been a while since I’ve written huh? Well I’m actually not going to write something just yet. Instead I’ll share with you an editorial that my boss, Ron Kronish, wrote about religious leaders needing to take the initiative in cultivating empathy for the other side and for encouraging religious conciliation.

The article certainly points to the difficulty in keeping the dialogue going in light of the conflict. These organizations try to affect the conflict by building understanding among peoples, but unfortunately the conflict often ends up impacting them by slowing down efforts.

It takes a great amount of strength to try to move past all of the emotional, historical, psychological, political baggage of the ongoing events and to let violence derail reconciliation efforts. But it is something that both sides must do. I was glad to hear about an event hosted by Jerusalem Peacemakers, which dealt with nonviolent teachings in each religion. I met one of the co-organizers at an event today, and he said that the discussion was a necessary response to the Merkaz HaRav shooting. He felt like it was needed to revive hope. I was also glad to hear that Pardes Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Landes spoke there, and was disappointed I couldn’t attend the event due to a conflict in my schedule. Continue reading

Good Day

Today was a very good day. As Ramban is the commentator of the month at Pardes, our Chumash class read a long entry of his about his perspective on miracles and mitzvot. More about Ramban and his commentary later. I’ll just say that Rashi typically writes short explanations on text in the chumash while Ramban is quite wordy.

This afternoon I attended a staff meeting/semi-retreat. One of the staff members, Ophir Yarden talked about his work in ICCI’s the Center for Interreligious Encounter with Israel. The program organizes tours for visiting groups and educates them about the different religious aspects of Israel. Some of the people whom ICCI has hosted have included religious students, religious leaders and college groups. Groups have included separate and combined Jewish and Christian delegations.

Ophir also talked about the upcoming conference that ICCI is helping to organize in Jerusalem for the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), an organization which ICCI also belongs to. The theme of the conference is “The Contribution of Jewish-Christian- Muslim Dialogue to Peace-Buidling in the Middle East”
It sounds like it’s going to be a really interesting event!

Here’s something else that might interest you: I recently expanded a blog article I had written last month on Bush’s visit here for MASA’s online newsletter.

Presidential Visit

Last week, El Presidente Bush came into down. Boy was it nuts. Downtown streets were closed and most of the hotels in town were booked. I constantly heard the sound of helicopers humming throughout the day and a surveillance blimp hovered over the city. While our neck of the woods didn’t feel Bush’s presence as much, we went out of our way to avoid the center of town. We were planning to leave Jerusalem for the weekend, but decided that with all of the road closings were taking place, we would stay put. You would think I would be used to this since I live in Israel. But this level of security was unprecedented, and while I understand the need for it, it felt oppressive at times. Continue reading