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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Scottish Interfaith Pilgrimage - reflections

Colin Anderson
My thanks for the really enjoyable, eye- and mind-opening, and generally valuable visit of the unique group from Scotland.  The original idea was spot-on, and all the flair and application with which it was worked up and carried it through is, in my view, to be widely applauded.

Interfaith Pilgrims

I had good vibes from the moment people began to filter through the arrival area in the airport, and those good vibes were confirmed as I saw how the group was interacting, conversing, and laughing together - and then applying themselves to the opportunities to see what is here, and what is happening here. They were confirmed again by people's response, as individuals with their own backgrounds, but always within the context of the group and its purpose, with the vision and inspiration which religion, in its various ways, invaluably gives to the desperately difficult human task that history and politics have landed on the shoulders of those who live in the Land today.

There were some wonderful, unexpected moments - like your Rabbi goading us willingly (and Ian Galloway did it again in the context of worship on Sunday) into collective celebration of the hope our different faiths enable us to glimpse.  I wasn't present at the second session on Saturday that followed David Rosen's tour de force, so I wasn't asked to think what my top moment  of the week was. But I suspect that if I had been, I would have gone for Sami Awad's exposition of non-violence, and the strategies by which his organisation is beginning to have it understood and taken on board, even by unlikely players in the scene. I happen to think that his message and the spirit from which it derives,  (including in his own case, his reaction on visiting Auschwitz,) is the most important ingredient in the mix of ideas and measures that have to be part of a peace process that will actually work - in fact the key that could unlock the present impasse. I have the feeling that our group would all subscribe to that - the Christians obviously, but all the others as well, though obviously with different slants and emphases. My lowest moment?  Possibly the same day, when the Palestinian regaled us with very much the victim litany - though should we really wonder at that? - perched on that ledge on the precarious slope where his house is, below the settlement towering overhead. This following David Wilder's pugnacious and blinkered (again not surprising) performance. The relevance of my high to my low could not be more clearly illustrated.

Most of all I'd like to refer back to what I said in St Andrew's Church on Sunday about the value of the week in terms of the group itself deepening their mutual understanding and acceptance and therefore belonging together, which was part of the excellent purpose of the visit, and the evidence this provided - as a number of people we met noted - that this was an encouraging example to people struggling with "the situation" in the Holy Land today. Scotland - and the Scottish Government - can be rightly proud of that; it is priceless, not just  "value for the money "; and, in a little way, the visit merited the description of "Middle East Peace Initiative"!

Colin Anderson is a Church of Scotland Minister, currently at St Andrew's, Jerusalem.


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