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CCJ Press Release on 75th Anniversary

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), Britain’s oldest interfaith organisation and leading forum for Jewish/Christian relations, is celebrating its 75th anniversary in October 2017. CCJ was founded in 1942, at the height of the Second World War by Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple and Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz. Their founding statement, printed in the Times on 1st October, following an announcement of the BBC the evening before, noted that the rise of Nazism, with antisemitism at its heart, had made it even more essential for people of faith to work together against this moral evil. As Archbishop Temple and Chief Rabbi Hertz said of antisemitism: ‘We cannot afford to ignore the effects of the steady propagation of this evil throughout the world. It is not only a menace to the unity of every community in which it takes root, but it is the very negation of those values on which alone we believe that a new and better world can be established’.

These words ring as true today as they have ever done, calling on people of faith to use our diversity to challenge prejudice and persecution in whatever guise so that we can build a community of safety, dignity, and fellowship for all.

The theme of this anniversary year is derived from Psalm 133 ‘How Good it is to Dwell Together’ that celebrates 75 years of our communities coming together to build bridges and understanding. CCJ will celebrate its achievements nationally and locally with its over 30 branches in every corner of the UK.

To mark the year, CCJ will launch “The CCJ Bridge Award” which will be given to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to building bridges between communities, in a Christian-Jewish or wider setting. The first winner will be chosen by CCJ trustees and announced before the end of 2017.

CCJ Chair Rt Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE, Bishop of Lichfield, said: “We are delighted to celebrate CCJ’s 75th anniversary. CCJ was founded in 1942 during the dark days of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It was the first national interfaith network and we remain the leading nationwide forum for Christian/Jewish engagement. Our original vision, challenging antisemitism and prejudice in whatever guise, and educating to improve relations within communities, is as relevant today as it was in 1942. This special anniversary will showcase the growth and importance of CCJ in every generation. The new CCJ award will also enable us to draw attention to and thank some exceptional people who have been involved with our charity and wider interfaith efforts to bringing communities together. By celebrating this anniversary and drawing wider attention to CCJ’s programmes we continue to enable good relations between faiths as we meet growing contemporary challenges.”

The year-long celebrations will open with an address by the Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson at CCJ’s AGM on October 17th, 2017

Other special events include:

  • A seminar on ‘Believing or Belonging’ with Professor Simon Schama on October 3rd, 2017
  • The launch of an Alumni network for over 200 graduates of CCJ’s Yad Vashem Clergy Seminar that takes place each year at the World Holocaust Centre in Jerusalem.  Clergy attending the seminar are from all Christian denominations and every part of the UK. The launch includes an event with Phillipe Sands QC, author of East West Street, and Eva Schloss MBE, Holocaust survivor and posthumous stepsister of Anne Frank, in October 2017 and a conference at the National Holocaust Centre in April 2018
  • A national Rabbi/Clergy training conference that will bring together Rabbis and Clergy from across the UK to build stronger connections at a local level, through education, dialogue and social action in March 2018
  • The launch of a young CCJ Network that will incorporate CCJ’s campus leadership alumni as well as young stakeholders involved in CCJ’s work
  • A bridge building study tour to Israel and Palestine with senior Christian and Jewish leaders and clergy to listen to a broad range of narratives and understand better Christian and Jewish connections to the Holy Land and to the peoples in the region
  • An Anniversary dinner in June 2018 with a VIP key note speaker

For more information and press enquiries contact Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko, Director of CCJ: Director@ccj.org.uk