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"Light" - IEA Reut-Sadaqa's encounter on December 19th

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  • Yehuda Stolov
    Fourteen of us met at Ratisbonne in Jerusalem on December 19th, instead of our usual place of meeting at the Swedish Theological Institute. We gathered here
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2006
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      Fourteen of us met at Ratisbonne in Jerusalem on December 19th, instead of our usual place of meeting at the Swedish Theologic

      Fourteen of us met at Ratisbonne in Jerusalem on December 19th, instead of our usual place of meeting at the Swedish Theological Institute.  We gathered here for a potluck meal celebration of Christmas, Chanukah and Eid Al Adha and to discuss "light" in our 3 religions.


      Recounting the history of this interesting place, Karmela asked a rhetoric question: Is it accidental or providential that we, in IEA-Reut/Sadaqa, are meeting here in Ratisbonne where pre-1948 the Religious of Sion, a Christian-Catholic Congregation educated Jewish and Palestinian boys sitting side by side and provided them with a profession by which to earn a living when they graduated from their vocational school. Currently, following the Second Vatican Council, the Religious of Sion offer Christians a good knowledge of Judaism, its faith, tradition, liturgy and spirituality.


      Karmela brought an Advent Wreath and explained the significance of the different coloured candles inside the wreath – the mauve ones represented penance and the pink candle, joy.  The candles are lit 4 weeks prior to Christmas to prepare for the coming of the Lord.  Having a pink colour on the third Sunday emphasizes the message:  always be joyful in whatever happens to you.


      Nathanael, spoke about the Jewish tradition of light.  God gives us light and it is our responsibility to use it for holiness.  Unlike in pre-Judeo-Christian times, where people would try to "capture" light, here God is giving us light.  The first mention of light in the Old Testament was in Genesis "And God said – let there be light, and there was light", in Exodus the burning bush was so bright , Moses could not approach it and the Israelites were led by a pillar of fire in the desert.


      Nathanael is also a very talented artisan who brought several of his creations - an interfaith "ner tamid" (eternal light) which is placed on top of the ark in synagogues, a Chanukah lamp, a memorial lamp he created in memory of Yitzchak Rabin, a Sabbath lamp.  Another Jewish ritual object he brought was a braided havdalah candle, used to mark the end of the Sabbath. 


      Louis Bohte gave the Christian perspective. In Christian tradition, the saints' images are expressed by a halo of light around their faces. During the time of Jesus, the Roman emperors saw themselves as gods, but they brought darkness over the world. At the opposite side, Jesus was the one who brought light into the world. A special use of light is during the night of Easter, where the resurrection is symbolized by the ignition of the fire in the candle followed three times by the song – Light of Christ.   He spoke about Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic.  He wrote a poem called "The Living Flame of Love"


      Suheer spoke about the Moslem holiday of Eid Al Adha which falls on January 10th.  This is about Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismael for God.  It is traditional on this holiday for the meat of sheep to be distributed to family and the poor.  This holiday heralds in the Hajj – the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest site.  As Moslems celebrate their holidays according to the lunar calendar, they keep each other informed as to when the holidays are for that year.  There is a chapter in the Koran called "Sura e-noor" – which means the Chapter of Light.  Allah is the light of heaven and earth.  Allah is cognizant of all things.


      Afterwards, we broke up into small groups to discuss what we heard and to end this evening, we each brought some food to share for a festive celebration of each of our holidays.


      We plan to meet again on Monday, January 23rd – the theme of our meeting being folklore and tales from our religions.


      Looking forward to seeing you all then.


      Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Eid Al Adha.


      Written by Leah Lublin, (Jewish coordinator of IEA-Reut/Sadaqa), together  with Karmela Farrugia (Christian coordinator) and Rafiqa Othman (Moslem coordinator)



      The Interfaith Encounter Association

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