Dr Deborah Weissman

Dr DEBORAH WEISSMAN

Israel

ICCJ Immediate Past President


Describe how you became involved in interreligious dialogue and in the ICCJ:

Although in a certain way, you could probably say that I’ve been doing some kind of “inter-religious dialogue” since I went to church with my best friend at age 9, it really started in 1987-88. I starting teaching at St. George College in East Jerusalem and I attended an amazing conference for women sponsored by the World Council of Churches. It still took me 18 more years until I got involved with the ICCJ.

 

Tell us something about your first ICCJ conference:

My first conference with the ICCJ was 2006, in Vienna. I was very impressed with the Christian participants. The Jewish participants included very few rabbis or academics, mostly local grass-roots people. They are, of course, very important, too, but they didn’t engage in serious theological dialogue with their Christian counterparts. In fact, when we went on a field trip and arrived at a monastery outside Vienna for a beautiful Evensong service, I overheard two Jewish ladies saying, “This is so Christian.”
 

Tell us briefly about your most powerful ICCJ memory:

I suppose the most powerful memory is from Berlin in 2009, when we signed the Berlin Document. I still think it’s a pioneering document.

How do you see the ICCJ evolving in the future:

I hope that more young people will join or will move over from the YLC. Otherwise, the ICCJ doesn’t really have much of a future. But I also hope that it will not become a supermarket, and will continue to focus on dialogue between Christians and Jews.

What/which questions are the closest to your heart:

Interpretation of texts, festivals, theology and prayer, the role of women, combating negative stereotypes, but also current issues such as Israel and the Palestinians, refugees and migrants, building a better society.

What is the greatest challenge you think the ICCJ will face in the coming years:

Young people who live on social media and don’t support organizations, especially veteran ones.

What advice would you give to someone who is just getting involved in the ICCJ:

Talk to some of the older people, learn from their experience, but also bring in your own ideas.