2012
custodia.org

Between Heaven and Earth, in memory of Daniel Rossing

2012/11/08

A symposium was held on Tuesday, November 6th, in the Convent of St. Saviour, Jerusalem, focusing on the theme of pilgrims, tourists and local Christians of the Holy Land. For the occasion, the book of Daniel Rossing entitled Between Heaven and Earth – Churches and Monasteries of the Holy Land was presented in memory of its author, who was also the founder and general director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian Relations (JCJCR).

In his greeting, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, highlighted Daniel Rossing’s commitment to raising awareness of the local Christian population of the Holy Land, and thanked JCJCR for the work initiated to promote dialogue between religions.

Immaculata Hall was crowded with an audience diverse in culture and nationality, attentive to the presentations of the speakers, who included Mrs. Naomi Tsur, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Uri Sharon from the Ministry of Tourism, Archbishop Aristarchos Peristaris of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Fr. Gregory Collins, Abbot of the Dormition Abbey. Ms. Hana Bendcowsky, director of programming for JCJCR, coordinated the discussion panel.

The symposium took place in a harmonious manner, alternating the interventions of the various speakers on the allure of the Holy City and the three religions, in order to deepen the historical aspect of the subject, the natural beauty of the holy places, sources of spiritual enrichment and, finally, illustrating the influence of tourists and pilgrims to the Holy Land through with data and figures.

As if by consensus, the speakers stressed the common goal to live deeply the richness of the Holy Land, which the Benedictine Abbot expressed in the phrase, “We belong to the Holy Land, it is not the Holy Land that belongs to us.”

Of particular interest, Uri Sharon, in his intervention, provided some data on the increase of tourists and pilgrims to the Holy Land, stating that 55% of visitors are Christian, 26% Jewish. The Ministry of Tourism expects hotel reception to increase in the near future to three million visitors per year.

The last part of the symposium was reserved for questions from the audience to the speakers.

Brief Profile of Daniel Rossing

An Israeli leader engaged in dialogue and interfaith activities, Daniel Rossing has worked to build bridges of understanding and dialogue between the faithful of the three monotheistic religions in the Holy Land, especially in Jerusalem, promoting initiative between the Jewish and Christian communities. Before his death in 2010, he finished writing his book on Christian shrines in the Holy Land, entitled Between Heaven and Earth.

This volume is illustrated with stunning images and impressive texts of one hundred Christian monasteries, ancient and modern, from among the “holy places”, grouped into four geographic regions, with a special chapter dedicated to the Holy City of Jerusalem. The introduction of religious, historical and cultural heritage is of utmost importance for understanding and appreciating, with depth, the places presented. A short historical review describes the current presence of Christian communities in the Holy Land, with emphasis on the meaning of pilgrimage over the centuries. A central insight in this book is the understanding of the Holy Land as the land of “between” and then, “icon of meeting”.

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