NEWSLETTER No. 54 – March 2003


Christian & Jewish

Parish transfers leave both NSW and Victorian Councils chairless

Rev. Anne Amos with former
Governor General of Australia

Chairs of the Victorian and NSW Council branches have been vacated mid year by the transfer of their two incumbents to new appointments; in the case of Victoria, Rev. Anne Amos having been assigned a new parish in Western Australia; in NSW, the Council?s President, Major Graham Harris being assigned to a new Territory to oversee educational responsibilities for Taiwan.

Major Harris regrettably had to cut short his Presidency of the NSW Council, having taken the chair only in the previous August. As the representative on the NSW Council Executive of the Salvation Army — a Sponsoring Body, he was the successor to the legendary Major Gerben Stelstra who in 1998 was honoured by the Council as its first Life Member.

Rabbi Apple with
Archbishop George Pell
at the 125th anniversary
ceremony seen at the
Great Synagogue in Sydney.

The beginning of March saw a significant milestone celebrated in Sydney when the city?s Great Synagogue marked its 125th milestone with a special service which was attended by the Governor of NSW, the Hon. Marie Bashir AM. Dr. Bashir, who is the Patron of the Council of Christians and Jews in NSW was accompanied by the Synagogue?s Chief Minister and a CCJ Executive member of many years? standing, Rabbi Raymond Apple whose address to a packed Great Synago-gue was themed as of ?keeping the Synagogue great”. Rabbi Apple stressed that in the euphoria of looking back over a century of history and achievements, it is incumbent on the Synagogue, indeed on the entire Jewish community of Australia not to resile from the responsibilities of the challenges of the coming era.

MARCH 30 ? 9.15 am-5.30 pm

Theme: ?Abraham, a symbol of hope for Jews, Christians and Muslims

ENTRY FREE OF CHARGE All Workshops limited to 50.

Organised by: Affinity InterCultural Foundation, Columbian Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, Catholic Commission for Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and supported by the NSW Council of Christians and Jews

ACT Branch AGM in two minds on whether the end of the world is indeed nigh

About 40 members of the ACT Christian Jewish Dialogue group gathered for the group?s February evening to hear a talk titled, ?The End of the World is Nigh? and attend the AGM. The annual general meeting was a short and informal session chaired by a previous Convenor, Brush Gordon-Smith at the beginning of the evening. With no new nominations for the committee and all committee members willing to serve for another year, all were duly elected. With a steadily ageing membership (there were few at the meeting under 40), the Dialogue group?s current Convenor, Terry Craig, asked members to reflect and then suggest ways of attracting the younger generation to dialogue. He stressed the importance of Christians and Jews enthusing the younger generation to carry on dialogue and interaction between the two religions. A well known past president of the ACT Jewish Community, Earle Hoffman, then presented his talk on ?The End of the World is Nigh: Visions of Apocalypse?.

Apocalyptic themes Beginning with definitions and descriptions of categories of apocalypse, Earle moved on to briefly describe a visit he had made to the island of Patmos and the cave where John the Divine reputedly received and wrote down the final book of the New Testament: The Book of Revelation. He then discussed apocalptic themes in the major world religions, including Jewish concepts of the ?great and terrible? Day of the Lord, justice under a Messianic kingdom, and the Christian hope of a new Jerusalem and a Messianic kingdom, and also covered a calendar or millennial viewpoint, earthly catastrophes and extra-terrestial catastrophe. A talk on such a topic would daunt many, but Earle?s erudite presentation demonstrated how good research and an original mind and approach can hold an audience?s attention.


As has already been foreshadowed in SCENE, Australia will receive a visit next August from the recently-elected President of the International Council of Christians and Jews, Rev. John Pawlikowski. Readers of Scene will still recall the exciting experience of the visit in 2001 of his predecessor, Rabbi Dr. David Rosen. While Rabbi Rosen?s visit created a great deal of interest both in and outside of the Council parameters the messages he delivered were largely those of the need to harness whatever resources are available to the Council, indeed to all people of goodwill, to promote the task of bringing together to the same table people of different faiths and persuasions. Regrettably there are specific ?corners” of this constituency which still find it difficult to come to this table; to discuss with their counterparts the differences we have and the commonalities we share; to find ways to bridge the gaps of the differences and to recognise and rejoice in the commonalities. The directions from which these hesitants generally stem have underlying roots of orthodoxy. Their background and their beliefs simply create hurdles for them to overcome in terms of the suggestion that they might find sustenance and support from dialogue rather than feeling threatened by it. That there are enough people to advance the message of goodwill among those of different faiths is encouraging. That their ranks are swelling promises hope for the future. That more young people are engaging in this direction offers much promise. But without the wholehearted co-operation of all sides of the equation, there will always be a three steps forward/four steps backward kind of progress, one which can hardly be described as wholehearted. The branches of the Council of Christians and Jews throughout Australia will be well served by strenuous efforts on the part of their members to bring to the discussion table those of our brethren who tend to create obstacles to the path of Understanding the Other through no reason other than traditional constraints and historical limitations. In the name of goodwill, i the name of humanity, let these barriers be lifted…tomorrow.

Victorian Council members honored in Australia Day List

Four CCJ (Vic.) members were recognised in the 2003Australia Day awards. Bishop Hilton Deakin AM, Mrs Sylvia Gelman AM, Rev. George Grant OAM, and Mr David Mandie AM. George Grant, a member of the CCJ executive until recently, was for many years closely involved in the publication of Gesher and in the work of several subcommittees of the Council. The citation for his award reads: “”For services to interfaith work, in particular Christian and Jewish relations””. Meanwhile CCJ executive member Mrs Fleur Freadman is organising another series of lectures and discussions at Melbourne?s Victoria University. The theme of this year's series, “”Creating a Better Community”will begin on May 26 from 11.30 a.m. The series is to be launched by Sir Zelman Cowan and the first lecture will be given by Fr Nick Francis, Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Bonaventure Group hears Cardinal Cassidy

One of the well attended series under the auspices of the Bona-venture Lectures late last year at St. Joseph?s Franciscan Parish in Edgecliff was presented by recently returned-from-Rome Cardinal Edward Cassidy (pictured) on his involvement with and views on the relationship between the Catholic Church and Jewish communities. The Bonaventure Series is held three times a year on topics related to moral issues aimed at increasing awareness of a variety of topical issues. The Series is currently in its seventh year.

Pope John Paul reflects on life in poetry

Pope John Paul II has let his feelings flow in a book of poetry seen as his ””last testament”after almost 25 years leading the world's one billion Catholics. A three-part Roman Triptych,the first work of poetry published by Pope John Paull II since ascending to the papacy has become a best seller in Europe within weeks of its publication. Written in Polish, the poems reflect on the beginning and end of life. He dedicates a first section to the Creation and ends with a complex contemplation of the mystery of faith in the final verses, called A Hill in the Moria Land.

As a priest in Poland in the 1950s and '60s he wrote a series of poems, using the pseudonym Andrzei Jawien, which were later published as Easter Vigil and Other Poems.

Giovanni Reale, a professor of ancient philosophy, said the verses were ””beautiful, touching””. After becoming the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years, speculation has grown that his successor may come from Latin America. But most analysts close to the Vatican predict that the next conclave will elect an Italian.

No. 1 in a series of biographical profiles of leaders of major denominations

His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos

A biographical Profile

Archbishop Stylianos was born in Rethymon, Crete, in December 1935.
He studied at the famous Orthodox School of Theology on the isle of Halki, graduating in 1958. The nucleus of this School of Theology of Halki had been the very ancient monastery of the Holy Trinity that was founded, according to tradition, by Patriarch Photios (837-886 AD) and greatly active both before and after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. The monastery had been a centre of letters in the Byzantine period and was rightly characterised as a ””stadium of wisdom”both for its large library of manuscripts and the men of great learning associated with it.
After the Ottoman occupation many Patriarchs showed special interest in the monastery particularly in times of adversities and hardships. The idea of converting the ruined and deserted monastery into a centre of letters and studies and establishing the Orthodox School of Theology is due to the energetic Patriarch Germanos IV (1842-1845 and 1852-1853).
His Eminence was ordained Deacon in 1957 and Priest in 1958. He completed postgraduate studies in Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion, in Bonn, West Germany, from 1958 until 1966. In that year he was appointed Abbot of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of Vlatodon in Thessaloniki where the relics of St Gregory the Theologian, St James the Persian and St Modestus, as well as some relics of St Athanasios the Anargyri (Unmercenary Doctors) and St Prokopios are kept.
Archbishop Stylianos became Vice-President and later President of the Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies within the monastery, of which he was one of the founding members. He was declared Professor of Theology at Athens University in 1965, lecturing in Systematic Theology at the University of Thessaloniki (1969-1975).
In 1970 he was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as Titular Metropolitan of Militoupolis, whilst remaining in the Holy Monastery of Vlatodon, serving as the Exarch (Representative) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in matters concerning Northern Greece and the Holy Mountain.
In 1975 His Eminence was unanimously elected Archbishop of Australia. He often takes part in major academic conferences, and has repeatedly represented the Ecumencal Patriarch in World Council of Churches General Assemblies.
From the beginning of the Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics, Archbishop Stylianos was head of the Patriarchal Delegation and unanimously elected as the Orthodox Co-chairman. Before the dialogue he served as member of the Patriarchal Delegation in the International Dialogue with the Anglicans, as well as Co-Chairman.
He has published widely in Dogmatic and Systematic Theology and, up to now, 16 collections of poetry.
Since 1975, Archbishop Stylianos has taught Orthodox Theology and Spirituality at Sydney University. From 1986 he was Dean of the Theological college of Saint Andrew, established during his time, in which he lectures in Systematic Theology.
Apart from other honorary distinctions, he has been honoured with the International Award Gottfried von Herder (1973), as well as the Award for Poetry from the Academy of Athens (1980) and an Honorary Doctorate from the Lublin University, Poland (1985).

From around the States…


Victorian CCJ executive committee member Zvi Civins is leading the Council's project, 'School Partnerships'.The project has grown out of the desire to involve young people in the Council's work and to help them to understand one another's faith. The first stage is to link up Year 9-10 students from two Jewish schools and two Christian schools. Already Bialik College and King David School, and Samaritan College and Sion College have undertaken to join the program. The plan is to exchange presentations on the story of the schools, with discussions of their particular faith traditions. There is also the prospect of including essays on these themes in the schools? magazines.


April 9 is the auspicious date for the first function to be held by the newly-formed branch of the CCJ in Queensland. Rabbi John Levi AM and Rev. Ray Barraclough will discuss the recent Pontifical Biblical Commission Document.


The next International Council Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting will be held in Utrecht, Holland from June 29 to July 3, 2003 in conjunction with the Dutch CCJ and the Catholic Theological College, Utrecht.
The conference theme is: ?Imagining the Other — Jews, Christians and Muslims in Modernity: Between self-determination and the imagined other:”
Australia will be represented by its ICCJ delegate, Sr. Marianne Dacy, Hon. Secretary of the Australian Council of Christians and Jews.
Michael Frommer will be the Australian representative on the 2003 Young Leadership Conference.

News from around the world

Vatican and Chief Rabbinate of Israel issue statement on human sanctity, family values

In a meeting in Rome from February 23 to 27, 2003, delegates of the Vatican?s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel discussed topics of mutual concern and issued a joint statement on ””The Sanctity of Human Life”and “”Family Values.”The Rome sessions followed a preparatory meeting held in Jerusalem in June 2002. “”We are dialoguing as people of faith having common spiritual roots and patrimony,”the delegates declared, according to a Vatican press release. ””Dialogue is a value in itself and excludes any intention of converting.”They added, “”We feel the call to proclaim testimony to the One God in the world and we are willing to cooperate in fostering common religious values, peace with justice, truth and love.”Rabbi Shar Yishuv Cohen and Cardinal Jorge Mejia served as chairs of the Jewish and Catholic delegations, respectively. Other participants included Shmuel Hadas, Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio in the Holy Land; Rabbi Ratzon Arrusi, Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Rabbi David Brodman, Fr. Georges Cottier O.P., Oded Wiener, Fr. Elias Shacour, Mgr. Pier Francesco Fumagalli, and Fr. Norbert Hofmann S.D.B.

Torah from vandalized Synagogue rescued in the US

A Torah rescued by a Catholic priest from a Polish synagogue burned by the Nazis in 1939 has found a new home at Boston College. Inscribed 83 years ago in Krakow, the Torah was rescued from the flames of a burning synagogue during the Holocaust by a priest, his name lost to memory, who in 1960 conveyed the scroll to an American Jew who was a cultural attach? at the American embassy in Poland.

Youngsters help maintain Jewish cemeteries

Organised by the British ICCJ?s Young Leadership section, a group of young people spent a week last year in the Czech Republic to help the Brno community responsible for maintaining Jewish cemeteries in South Moravia with clearance of a cemetery in Znojmo. The aim was to support the town?s surviving small Jewish community. The visitors experienced that week as a steep learning curve in teamwork, self understanding, co-operation and appreciation of the hard task of keeping alive memorials and memory yet looking toward the future.

German Jews gain equal status as religious community

The Jewish community in Germany, now numbering some 100,000 persons, has been granted a legal status equal to that of the Roman Catholic and Evangelical (Protestant) churches. This qualifies the Jewish community to receive financial aid from the German government for its schools and social welfare agencies, as do the equivalent Christian bodies. “”This is a historic event,”said Paul Spiegel, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. “”That Jews live here once again in considerable numbers is a fact that those who returned after 1945 could hardly imagine.”The Jewish community numbered only 30,000 as recently as 1990, but has been greatly strengthened by an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. Prior to the Holocaust, there were an estimated 600,000 Jews in Germany.

Ecumenical delegation to visit the Ivory Coast : An interfaith initiative for peace & reconciliation

Demonstrating their solidarity with the country's churches, an ecumenical delegation will be visiting the Ivory Coast from 10 to 12 March in order to explore the possibility of interfaith dialogue to help solve the political and ethnic conflict that is dividing that country. The visit is an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in cooperation with the All Africa Conference of Churches, and the delegation will hold conversations with the leaders of the country's Christian churches. As well as conveying to them the concern of the international ecumenical community, they will examine with them the critical situation confronting the country and discuss what contribution the churches and faith communities in general can make towards a negotiated solution to the armed conflict between rebel groups and the government. Together with leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and other faith communities, the delegation will explore possibilities of joint action for peace and reconciliation. They will sound out with members of government and opposition parties the possibility of political support for such an interfaith initiative. They will also attempt to meet with the committee monitoring the agreement made in Paris in January between rebel groups. and the government.

Edith Stein letter asking Pope to intervene on behalf of Jews is released from Vatican Archives

A letter from Edith Stein to Pope Pius XI urgently requesting him to intervene on behalf of persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany is among the first documents to come to public attention as a result of the Vatican?s recent action opening further sections of its archives. The letter is dated April 12, 1933.


The Encyclopaedia Brittanica calls Amen ?perhaps the most widely known word in human speech”. From its first occurrence in Num. 5.22 when the Priest addresses a suspected adulteress and she responds ?Amen, Amen”, the word appears in Hebrew Scripture 30 times. Usually it endorses a serious statement, as in Deut. 27 when the Levites list twelve transgressions such as ?Cursed is he who removes his neighbour?s landmark”. And all the people respond: ?Amen”, i.e ?Yes, or So be it.? In the Temple in Jerusalem it was a liturgical response, Particularly to the Levites? Songs (Psalm 41:14 , Neh.8.6 Chron. 16.36) but whether it was used daily is not certain. With the rise of the synagogue during the Second Temple period, Amen became a common response, especially to benedictions. There was a huge synagogue in Alexandria where the congregation could not hear the prayers clearly and a signaler waved a flag so that the worshippers would know when to say Amen (Talmud Succah 51b) In subsequent synagogue usage, the officiant indicated when Amen should be said, e.g. each section of the Kaddish ends with ?say Amen” (V?imru Amen”). The root meaning of the word is to confirm or support.

It is in connection with Ex. 17:12 which states that during the war with the Amalekites, Moses? hands—uplifted to maintain the people?s morale—were emunah, firm until the going down of the sun. From denoting firmness the word came to indicate affirmation or belief. Hence, after a benediction formula Amen says ?I identify with this praise of God”. Rabbic literature acclaims those who say Amen, e.g. ?Whoever responds Amen with all their energy, a gate in Paradies is opened for them” (Shabbat 119b) God Himself is said to nod Amen when man utters His praise (Talmud B?rachot 7a) Looked homiletically, the liturgical rules applying to Amen offer a lesson for life. When I hear a benediction I have to say Amen. I dare not remain unmoved and unre- sponsive as if I had ears but did not hear (Psalm 115:6) I do not say Amen after my own prayer. I ought not be too sure of myself. I do not say an abbreviated Amen. My response should be wholehearted and complete. I do not say a hurried Amen. I am not in a hurry to agree before I hear all the facts. I do not say an orphan Amen. An Amen that comes too late loses its value. I try to say the right Amen at the right moment. Albert Camus said ?If we believe in nothing, then nothing has any meaning. Amen allows us to believe and to say so.

The above presentation was given by Rabbi Raymond Apple, Chief Minister of Sydney?s Great Synagogue at a 2002 RACS meeting.