January Newsletter

1. Celebrating " LIGHT" Together in Jerusalem 

Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which this year fell over the Christian celebration of Christmas, is an opportunity to reflect on the metaphor of Light across religions.

When Praying Together in Jerusalem met on the last Thursday of December, we shared texts on the theme of “Light”.


One of the Muslim texts found resonance with participants from other religions. It speaks of the difference between physical light, whether the natural light of the sun or the light created by the human igniting of a flame, and spiritual light.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp: the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east (i.e. neither it gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e. nor it gets sun-rays only in the afternoon, but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.


The Christian text was from a homily of St. John Chrysostom on Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.”

While acknowledging God as the source of all light, the text emphasised that people who entrusted themselves to God and exemplified His values themselves become light. First, they are light salt, providing sustenance and support through their actions; then, they become light, teaching and sharing and spreading the message of the Divine.

The Jewish texts focused on the Festival of Hannukah and the symbolism of “lighting the lights.” Although Hannukah celebrates a one-off historical event, lighting the lights in the home brings God’s light into the home on an ongoing basis.


Elijah is a founding partner of Praying Together in Jerusalem, practicing side-by-side prayer to enhance friendship, respect and a common spiritual quest across religions.


In additional to our usual partners – Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Jerusalem Peace-Makers, the Sisters of Sion, the Swedish Theological Institute and Interfaith Encounter Association – this event was hosted by the Conservative Yeshiva (Fuchsberg Centre), whose students attended. Others joining included Palestinian Muslims from East Jerusalem and al-Idna near Hebron and included a contingent of members of Women Wage Peace.


Welcoming words and blessings were offered by Tamara Fine Skversky from the Fuchsberg Center, PTIJ co-convenor, Eliyahu McLean, Sheikh Jamal al Din, a Muslim educator from Beit Haninah in East Jerusalem, Ahuva Tamar Batch, an Israeli Jewish woman from the Women Wage Peace NGO, and Sister Trudy Nabuurs and other "Sisters" from the Sisters of Sion at Ecce Homo in the Old City. 


A unique feature of lighting Hannuka candles in this context was the ability to have a representative from each faith and organization light one of the candles, suggesting how our individual lights join up and make one greater light of peace and understanding.

“In spite of heavy rain, we had our praying together in Jerusalem tonight. It was a great evening. There was a large number of young Yeshiva students - they were well over 50 – plus some Muslims and about 12 Christians. We broke up into mixed religious groups and we had great text-study and discussion. The lighting of the Hanukkah  candles was most moving, with different representatives each participating. A very worthwhile evening.” (Sister Trudy Nabuurs, Sister of Sion)


2. Sharing Wisdom: 

Global warming has intensified a problem that has existed since ancient times – food shortages or unequal distribution of food resources among the world’s population. Dr Dimitra Koukoura has contributed to a compilation of texts about Food, prepared originally for Churches’ Week of Action for Food. The topics cover a range of issues, from appreciation of Divine abundance to generosity, hospitality and responsibility.

Members of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders are not only theologians, contemplating on the human relationship with the Divine or a supernal dimension. They also concern themselves with the major social and political concerns of our world and of human society. This edition of Sharing Wisdom features the work of one. Others will follow in weeks to come.


Read her article

3. Our Summer School 2020

We are delighted to announce that the
Elijah Interfaith Summer School and Interreligious Leadership Seminar  2020
will take place from August 2nd-13th, 2020 on the theme:
Understanding Sacred Space
Jerusalem and Other Holy Cities

Week 1, August 2nd-7th:       Understanding the Concept of Sacred
                                              Space in six different religious traditions.

Week 2, August 10th- 13th:   The sanctity of Jerusalem across religions.


For more information look at our website:
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Elijah Interfaith Institute · Kisalon 84 · Kisalon 9097600 · Israel