Bo Sandahl; ICCJ President 08.04.2020
History repeats itself. Stories are heard over and over again. Readings in synagogues and churches are the same year after year. So what is the news and is there any good news?
In these days, the whole world is preoccupied with the Covid -19 virus which affects all aspects of society and will do so for a long time to come. It’s a challenge to humanity: what are our guiding values and how do we make room for the vulnerability that is part of human existence? We cannot eradicate sickness and death but we can, in the midst of adversity and sorrow, sustain human dignity and be responsible for those who are weakest and most affected.
Celebrating Pesach this year brings back memories of the Exodus, the plagues, the release from slavery. If only we could brush our door posts with blood from a lamb and thereby be freed from this virus plague! But it doesn’t work that way and that’s not what the hasty departure from Egypt meant for the Israelites. The plagues of Egypt were a reminder of the great purpose for which the Israelites were released. To experience freedom after slavery may be more demanding and frightening than experiencing a virus.
The price for the people to be set free was heavy, plagues and death. And the Gospels tell us that the price for resurrection was suffering and death. In life there are always parallels between the Biblical stories of Pesach and Easter with the present situation. From our present standpoint, we read the old stories with new eyes and we hear something we never heard before. We hear news as if we never heard it before. We also hear things we don’t understand or agree with, and that is fine; it means that still more meanings can open up for us.
Keep your mind cool, your heart warm and your hands washed! We will not brush blood on our door posts, we will wash our hands! This is also a Biblical theme. The washing of the disciples’ feet, of Jesus’ feet, but also how Pontius Pilate washed his hands after he sentenced Jesus to death.
After the Corona crisis there will come new life. There are many endings in the Biblical stories but every ending is a new beginning as well. Each reading is a new beginning!
The Executive Board has decided to postpone this year’s international conference until next year. This was a necessary decision and it means that we have to wait a whole year for a very well planned conference to take place and for the joy of coming together in the ICCJ. Next year in Bratislava!
On behalf of the Executive Board, our General Secretary Anette Adelmann and the staff at the Martin Buber House in Heppenheim, I wish you all Pesach Sameach and Happy Easter!