Former Israeli Ambassador to Vatican: Joint World Center-Ecumenical Fraternity body "spearhead in Jewish-Christian relations in Israel"
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel convened on September 4th the seventh meeting of their joint "Liaison Committee" - an informal Jewish-Christian initiative reconstituted in 2010 to foster better mutual respect and understanding between local Jews and Christians in a congenial atmosphere and as a platform for raising and resolving issues that impact on both communities. the meeting was dedicated to a presentation by Ambassador Mordechay Lewy, ambassador of Israel to the Holy See, who completed his tour of duty - and his 37-year diplomatic career - just two days earlier.
Ambassador Lewy's candid lecture on “Israel-Vatican and Jewish-Catholic Relations Today and into the Future” was followed by a lively Q & A and discussion session led by Ecumenical Fraternity director Rev. Dr. Petra Heldt among the participants who included leading Jewish and Christian academics, municipal officials, journalists and institutional representatives.
Ambassador Lewy opened his presentation by praising the Liaison Committee for serving "as a spearhead in Jewish-Christian relations in Israel." He detailed the trials and tribulations of serving as Israel's representative to the Holy See and the special historic responsibility carried by the ambassador also as a representative of the Jewish people. World Center Director Alan Schneider opened the meeting by condemning the previous day's arson attack against the Trapist Monastery in Latrun near Ramle, attributed to "hilltop youth" protesting the court-ordered expulsion from the settlement of Migron. "Regardless of what is happening around us, there can be no justification for attacking any property, much less a religious institution and house of prayer and contemplation. We must all call for an end to these despicable and deplorable acts of violence that gain nothing but further animosity for the settler movement."
Mordechay Lewy joined the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1975. His appointment as Ambassador to the Holy See in May 2008 followed postings to Bonn, Stockholm, Berlin (as the first Consul General after the Unification), and later as DCM and Ambassador to Bangkok, as well as a 4-year assignment to the Jerusalem Municipality as the Mayor’s Special Advisor for Religious Communities. Lewy is a widely published scholar on Jewish/Israel-Catholic/Church relations and is also an enthusiast on the topic of tattoos of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land throughout the ages. His personal interest in Christian matters began with a Masters Degree in history, in which he researched the “Rise of monastic orders in the emerging medieval cities in Europe”. He will now pursue a Ph.D. in ancient European history based on medieval maps.
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