Minutes of Meeting

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Date: September 9, 2001

Location: Univ. of Dayton Alumni Hall Room 101

Meeting Topic: Report on Paths to the Holy, A Christian-Jewish Chautauqua, Held in Lakeside Ohio, Aug 19-24, 2001

Speakers: Lou Vera, Robin Smith, and Ken Rosenzweig

Hosts: Robin Smith and Lou Vera

PRESENT: Robin Smith, Acting Chair, Presiding; Donna Bealer, Bert Buby, Candy Davidson, Ruth Precker, Bill Rain, Ken Rosenzweig, Sophie Rubenstein, Phillis Straka, Lou Vera.

Robin Called the meeting to order at 7:55 PM. Lou Vera read Psalm 136 as the opening prayer

Ken announced that Eugene Hannahs is recovering from heart surgery, and Erika Garfunkel is recovering from hip surgery.

Robin then began the reflections on the Christian-Jewish Chautauqua by turning the floor over to Lou. Lou said that she has been working on the statewide committee that organized this event and prior ones--including Chautauqua I, dialogues and statewide events for Jewish and Christian religious educators since 1995. The objective of the committee which generally met in Columbus was to bring the Christian statements of recent years about new approaches to Jews and Judaism closer to ordinary Roman Catholic and Protestant congregations in Ohio. A long process of trial and error organizing on Louís part and that of others led up to Chautauqua II. Another challenge has been teaching people about the Dialogue process, which Lou pioneered in 1996, drawing on the work of Leonard Swidler and adding insights from her own experience. Few Dioceses in the U.S. actually teach people about the dialogue process itself.. Another inspiration for this process was a Cincinnati Jewish author, David Schwartz, who wrote a book about his experiences of dialogue in light of contemporary scholarship, A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue. Dave is a longtime friend of Louís and a former participant in a living room dialogue in Cincinnati which lasted for 11 years. Dave Schwartz took initiative with the growth of the internet and organized Seed House, which is now defunct because Dave had a serious heart attack. But Dave was present at the Chautauqua, as were people he had gathered in on the Internet in Ohio: Alyza Shapiro, an Orthodox Jewish teacher in an Orthodox Jewish girls high school in Cleveland, now on the statewide committee, and Harriet Warnock Graham, Episcopalian chair of the committee, who has extensive contacts with Jews and Muslims in dialogue and trialogue on the Internet. Years ago Dave drove Lou all the way to Toledo to meet Harriet, who has worked to promote ecumenical, face-to-face dialogue ever since. After trying out various formats in the last six years, the Christian-Jewish Task Force of the Ohio Council of Churches stumbled onto an understanding that people who spend longer than a few hours together in a setting which emphasizes retreat, learning and recreation will bond together and commit more wholeheartedly as future organizers devoted to Christian-Jewish reconciliation.

Lou displayed a number of pictures from the Chautauqua, including one of Kenís Jewish music presentation and several of the Lakeside facilities and the Chautauqua events. Lou also discussed her own presentation at the Chautauqua entitled "Introduction to Dialogue" which covered the skills necessary for effective dialogue. Along with the many other marvelous presenters at the Chautauqua, Lou noted the wonderful contribution of Imam A.M. Khattab of the Toledo Islamic Center. She noted that she as well as many of the Chautauqua participants found the Imam to be knowledgeable, open, and respectful of the viewpoints of others (Note: Imam Khattab died of liver cancer on September 16). Along with the many other splendid presentations, Dr. Rod Hutton of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley (Columbus, Ohio) delivered an excellent series of presentations on Hebrew and the development of Semitic languages in the ancient Near East. Lou also commented on the excellent presentations by George Wilkes, Director of the Cambridge Center for Jewish-Christian Relations in Cambridge, England. George, who is Jewish, spoke about Jewish-Christian relations in Central Europe and Dabru Emet (Speak the Truth), a statement issued last year by 175 Jewish scholars and rabbis which responded to the numerous Christian denominational statements about Judaism in recent years. George characterized Dabru Emet as a fairly conservative statement, and critiqued it extensively. Lou thinks that next year, a future Chautauqua should hear from someone who has a more positive view of the statement.

Another event at the Chautauqua that Lou discussed was the playing of a video about Open House. Open House is a house in Ramle, Israel, that was owned by an Arab family. The family was later expelled by the Israeli army. Later, a Bulgarian Jewish family who were refugees from the Nazis occupied the home. When members of the Arab family returned to view the home after the 1967 war, the two families began a long process of reconciliation, which had definite ups and downs. Many years later, the Jewish family wanted to sell the house and give the proceeds to the former Arab owners, because Israeli law did not permit repossession of the home. The Arab family, however, settled on a compromise--the establishment of a daycare center for Arab Children who generally have separate schools; Arab children also tend to have a high school-drop-out-rate. The Arab family decided to dedicate their house as an Open House and to include among its tasks the formation of an Arab-Jewish Cultural Center. The house now has two co-directors--one Christian Arab and the other Jewish--and it has such programs as a summer peace camp, a daycare center, a Jewish-Arab parentsí network, and an international outreach program.

Robin then made the following comments. At both the National Workshop on Christian-Jewish Relations held in Houston in the year 1999 and at the statewide Chautauqua, there were people who said that they thought our Dayton Dialogue should host a national conference and/or help start a national organization which would actually be a network of local Christian-Jewish dialogues. In planning a national dialogue organization, it might be helpful to base it upon the Quaker model of meetings. Quakers have a hierarchy of meetings; not a hierarchy of people. Every three months a Quarterly Meeting would be held in which members of all the local dialogues in a state would meet to discuss issues of common concern. Every year a regional meeting would be held, every two to three years a national meeting would be held, and every three to five years an international meeting would be held. The main idea is for dialogue groups to have the opportunity to discover what other Christian-Jewish dialogue groups are out there and how we can support one another and work together for common goals and reach and express a collective opinion on matters of common concern. People interested in starting Dialogue groups would have access to experienced Dialogue members whom they could call upon for assistance and guidance. And in this era of high-tech, we would not always have to meet physically; we could also "meet" via e-mail and conference calls and online chat rooms.

Ken then made some comments about the great experience he had during the three days he spent at the Chautauqua. He found the programs to be fascinating, the attendees and presenters to be wonderfully interesting, and the Lakeside surroundings to be beautiful and atmospheric. In the area of programs, Ken commented favorably on Dr. Rod Huttonís series of programs on the evolution of languages, the home/family ritual & spirituality panel discussion, Lou Veraís Introduction to Dialogue, the bereavement seminar, and the tour of local churches. With respect to the attendees, Ken noted that there were many ministers and people employed by religious institutions or performing religious-related duties in other institutions. Ken found the attendees to be earnest people, committed to the improvement of society. Ken felt the Lakeside community was very interesting. It is on the Marblehead Peninsula which juts out into Lake Erie. The community was founded in the 19th century as an educational retreat center for United Methodists, and many of the houses and buildings were built in the 19th century. It is now interdenominational but retains one United Methodist characteristic of being alcohol free. The atmosphere is slow-paced; people tend to walk rather than travel by auto. There is an educational atmosphere, including regular concerts and lectures. The people are friendly, greeting oneanother as if they knew each other previously.

Ken also enjoyed delivering his two one-hour Jewish music presentations. The location was a building with windows providing a panoramic view of Lake Erie. The music included recorded tracks of Jewish cantorial, klezmer, Yiddish, and Broadway music. Much of the music was emotional in nature and Ken, as well as some of the participants, had difficulty holding back tears.

Phillis asked for a discussion of the rules of Dialogue. Louís response was that there is a wisdom tradition rather than a set of hard and fast rules. Eileen suggested that there are guidelines and skills that facilitate the development of better understanding between the parties in dialogue. Lou passed out a brochure, Using the Dialogue Tradition in Everyday Life. Eileen suggested that the Dialogue Decalogue provided an appropriate set of principles of dialogue, and she offered to run it off for the members.

Lou discussed possible locations for a future Ohio Chautauqua. There was some discussion that it would be nice to hold it at Bergamo or some other location easily accessible to people residing in the Dayton area.

The meeting concluded with some general discussion of developments in Christian Jewish dialogue.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

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