There and back again: An interreligious Zoom Session
Zoom sessions have been part of our history from the beginning. This is no surprise considering our history and our background: We are an international and interfaith group, which first met 2017 for a Summer School in Wittenberg on the occasion of the 500 year celebration of reformation. A small group of Jews and Christians who believed that the stories and texts of the Hebrew Bible could be common ground for a vivid and real Jewish-Christian dialogue. It was an experiment and no one of us could have guessed the outcome. Would it be possible to read the text together? To discuss and talk about it, even though we come from different traditions? And to find a common language based on the biblical narrative? In the end it exceeded all our expectations. we had a wonderful, vivid and fascinating week reading the story of Abraham and his family together. But not just reading. We dove into the text, discussed verse after verse thoroughly and tried to make sense of the Word and us. It turns out many perspectives and many voices reading one sacred text is enriching and enlightening. The biblical text became our common ground and formed a shared language. After the week in Wittenberg we knew, that we have started something special. And we also knew that our shared journey was not done. We had been called – just as we heard it happen to Abraham – to travel down this uncharted road. And we were ready. So we continued to meet online and continued to read and debate biblical stories. Zoom became our tool to bridge the geographical distances. One year later we met again - this time at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel. So we came together again. This time with the story of Joseph.
As life sometimes has its obstacle’s not all of us where able to make it to the second Summer School in Israel. But it did not stop us. We tried another Zoom session in order to at least read one chapter of the Joseph narrative together. And this is what you will find online. We recorded it to give you a glimpse of what our uncharted roads look like.
You will find the typical manner of our discussion: First we go around and read the text out loud verse by verse each of us in the language she or he prefers. After having heard the text in Hebrew, English, Arabic, Polish or German we dive into the discussion. Sometimes with a specific verse sometimes with a question the moderator presents to us. This time after reading Gen 40 we started with the question “Can Joseph interpret dreams?” And here started the stream of thought: Joseph refers to God, to whom the interpretation belongs. But he still reads the dreams. What is his role as an interpreter? Does he simply repeat what comes from somewhere else or is he a natural reader of dreams or is he the interpreter? The discussion continued on the role of dreams at this point in the story, before it went deeper into the dreams themselves. Why do we need the baker and the wine bearer? What is the difference between them? Why do the dreams always come in pairs and what is it with the numbers mentioned in the dream? If you are intrigued by these questions and want to dig deeper into the text yourself, we recommend reading Gen 40 and then watch our recorded Zoom Session. And don’t forget: make up your own mind. It is always about the Word and us. Enjoy!