General, ICCI

ICCI March updates: Announcing new director Yonatan Shefa

0 Comments 05 April 2015



We are happy to welcome Yonatan Shefa as the new director of ICCI within Rabbis for Human Rights. Yonatan—who has been working part-time with Rabbis for Human Rights during the past four years while he studies to become a rabbi– comes with a rich background of experience and interest in the interrelated fields of interreligious dialogue, education and action. Most importantly, he comes to ICCI with enthusiasm, energy and effective ideas for the future.

A native of Toronto, Yonatan was educated at McGill University in humanistic studies, and obtained a masters degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is currently studying to be a rabbi at Yeshiva Sulam Ya’akov in Jerusalem.

Yonatan has decades of experience as a group facilitator and as a Jewish educator. In addition, he has a proven track record as an activist, both in various professional capacities and as a volunteer.

Yonatan has lived in Israel on and off for many years, and has lived here permanently for the past four years. He was recently married to Raina and lives in Beit Zayit, just outside of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Ron Kronish, Founding Director of ICCI and now Senior Advisor, welcomes Yonatan to this position:

My colleagues at RHR and I are impressed by Yonatan’s commitment and dedication to the interrelated causes of peace and human rights, and I believe that he will be a great director for ICCI, for now and for the future.


ICCI is proud to announce the publication of a book of essays: Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel: Voices of Interreligious Dialogue, edited by Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, recently published by Paulist Press in the U.S.A.

The book is available from Paulist Press and Amazon books

Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel: Voices for Interreligious Dialogue

Ronald Kronish, Editor. Preface by Rev. Michael McGarry, CSP

Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish has been a major force in the field of interreligious dialogue and education in Israel and Palestine for over twenty years. In this book he has gathered essays by friends and colleagues who share his passion and are committed to the cause of reconciliation in Israel. His eloquent message is that interreligious dialogue, education, and action can be a substantial force for reconciliation and peacebuilding in our troubled part of the world. The book is divided into five sections: Jewish-Christian Relations in Israel; Jewish-Muslim Relations in Israel; Trialogue with Jews, Christians, and Muslims; Educating for Peaceful Coexistence: Methodologies and Target Populations; and Reaching Out to the International Community. 

ISBN: 978-08091-4900-1


ICCI and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation will co-sponsor a book launch that will take place on June 14, 2015, at the centrally-located Konrad Adenauer Conference Center at Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem. All of the twenty-two authors who wrote essays in this book will be invited to participate in this event. This will also be an occasion to honor Rabbi Kronish on his retirement, after 24 years of service as Founding Director of ICCI, and to pay tribute to him for his pioneering work in the field of interreligious, dialogue, education and action in Israel and the region. Details to follow……

A similar event is currently being planned for October 2015, in New York City, for friends and supporters of ICCI and RHR in the United States. Stay tuned for more information about this special occasion. 



Members of the KODESH group of Jews and Muslims for Peaceful Coexistence have been engaged in action programs in recent months:

  • In February of this year, Rabbi Ron Kronish, Kadi Iyad Zahalka, the judge of the Muslim sharia court of the state of Israel in Jerusalem, and Fr. David Neuhaus, the Vicar of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community in Israel, participated in a panel discussion titled “The Messages and Methods of Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action in Israel” for fifty Arab and Jewish teachers at the Abu Ghosh High School, in the village of Abu Ghosh, just west of Jerusalem.

  • On March 10th, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman , rabbi of Congregation Kol HaNeshama and co-chairperson of ICCI, taught the teachers of the Abu Ghosh High School the meaning of the upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover by studying sections of the Passover Hagaddah together.

    Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman

    Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman

All of these programs represent efforts of members of the KODESH group of fifteen Jews and fifteen Muslims throughout Israel to take educational action by sharing key ideas of their religion and culture with members of another religion in Israel. KODESH, the Hebrew word for “Holy” is an acronym for Kolot Dati’im L’shalom, Religious Voices for Peaceful Coexistence, a program initiated by ICCI in 2013 and 2014.


Rabbi Ron Kronish, Senior Advisor of ICCI, joined tens of other Jewish and Christian activists at a TAG MEIR rally outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem on February 26th, to protest the vandalizing of the Greek Orthodox Seminary in the area. The TAG MEIR FORUM is a coalition of more than 48 Jewish and interreligious organizations, which brings light and hope instead of darkness and despair to Israeli and Palestinian society by demonstrating empathy and solidarity whenever a mosque, church, seminary, school or person is vandalized or attacked by extremists. ICCI and RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS are active members of the Tag Meir Forum, and Rabbi Ron Kronish serves on the Steering Committee.


For the seventh time, Williams College (Massachusetts, USA) conducted a winter-study course in conjunction with ICCI.

Ten students of diverse faith (and other) backgrounds prepared for their visit to Jerusalem with Cantor Robert Scherr, Williams’ Jewish chaplain, in an on-campus mini-course.  Subsequently they traveled to Jerusalem for a ten-day seminar entitled:  JERUSALEM: One City, Two Peoples, Three Religions.

In this program they explored Jerusalem from a great number of perspectives including the religious, historical and political but also incorporating the city’s art and wildlife.  One highlight new to this year’s program was a meeting with the 12th grade class of the Armenian community’s high school.

Ophir Yarden, director of ICCI’s Center for Interreligious Encounter with Israel, served as scholar-in-residence for the seminar.


During January-March of this year, 2015, Rabbi Ron Kronish wrote the following blog posts for the Huffington Post and the Times of Israel

On his Huffington Post blog:

On his Times of Israel blog:



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