World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / WCC general secretary / Messages and letters / Rosh Ha-Shanah greetings to members of the Jewish community

Rosh Ha-Shanah greetings to members of the Jewish community

A message on Jewish New Year "Rosh Ha-Shanah" from the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit for the members of the Jewish community.

24 September 2014

As general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), I send greetings to Jewish friends and partners, to mark the celebration of Rosh Ha-Shanah and the beginning of the High Holy Days.

As you read this, we will just have concluded an inter-religious meeting being held in New York City to express concern about the issue of climate change. It has been jointly organized by the WCC and Religions for Peace, and it has taken place immediately before the United Nations Summit on Climate Change. We have benefited at the meeting from a number of Jewish participants.

Our shared scripture – whether we name it as the Tanakh, Hebrew Bible or Old Testament – is a powerful resource reminding us of God’s love for creation, its true “goodness” and the responsibility of human beings to care for and treasure the creation. It seems particularly appropriate to recall this as “New Year” arrives and people of faith re-commit themselves to working over the coming weeks and months for the good of our world. I note that one possible interpretation of the story of the flood in Genesis 8.13 suggests that the flood came to its end on what would be called today Rosh Ha-Shanah. That was the day when the flood – having washed away the violence and corruption of the antediluvian period – finally came to an end. It was the day when the dove of peace finally found a place to settle in the world newly washed clean.

It has been a very difficult few months, particularly in the Middle East and in Europe, but in other parts of the world as well. We certainly need the dove of peace and the rainbow of hope these days. We at the WCC are deeply concerned for all those in several parts of the Middle East who have been the victims of armed conflict, or gratuitously brutal violence. We are also only too aware of the heightened tensions that have surfaced in several parts of Europe during recent months: noting how the ancient evil of anti-Semitism has once again reared its ugly head, with attacks on Jews and Jewish buildings and properties. Alongside this we are experiencing the apparently newer phenomenon of Islamophobia. During the coming few months we at the WCC will work to set out clearly why we believe that both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia need to be confronted by all Christians, and certainly by the WCC and its members and partners.

It was my pleasure and privilege to welcome a number of our Jewish friends to the WCC 10th Assembly held in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2013. It was clear how much the message that one of our Jewish friends shared with us in plenary, was appreciated. It was a powerful reminder of the commitment Jews and Christians need to and can make to walk together on the “pilgrimage of justice and peace” over the coming years.

May God go with you during these days of Rosh Ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary