An experience of vulnerability, strength, and pain in the transformation of politics - World Jewish Congress

An experience of vulnerability, strength, and pain in the transformation of politics

An experience of vulnerability, strength, and pain in the transformation of politics

By: Vanessa Hites and Aaron Serota  

Vanessa Hites, based in Chile, and Aaron Serota, based in Germany, are members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps.  

On our way back home, we are still reflecting on the interfaith and intercultural Fratelli Tutti Political School (FTPS) delegation to Rome. FTPS, which is part of Pope Francis’ vision to advance interfaith relations, is a one-year program that seeks to develop a diverse group of young leaders from different cultures and religions. Built on valuing and loving each person, the program is a part of Pope Francis’s third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti [All in fraternity].  

The delegation met with Pope Francis to learn directly about his vision for humanity and interfaith relations and to finally meet with our brothers and sisters who are passionately building relationships and true connections beyond the prism of their Zoom squares.  

Arriving at the Vatican in our jogging suits, directly from the airport, we were explicitly told that we did not have to change our clothes. This courteous welcome was a sign of things to come, as the Pope spoke to us with raw honesty and humility, which engendered a sense of kinship. 

In his view, engaging in politics is no longer done in the context of healthy discussion about long-term projects for the common good, but only have become marketing schemes that find the most effective resources with which to destroy the other. In this petty game of disqualification, the debate is manipulated into a permanent state of questioning and confrontation.  

We listened to the Pope as he outlined the challenges facing humanity , and he noted that while we must be mindful of unintentionally harming people, we must also be confident and proud to be ourselves and allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Authenticity, the Pope said, builds a new way of relating to one another through our minds, hearts, and hands.  

In line with the Pope’s vision, we addressed our shared challenges and opportunities as members of religious groups.  We noted that the historical nomadic experience of the Jewish people is directly connected with the Pope’s concern for refugee crises.The Jewish people know all too well the challenges facing other groups and cultures that are discriminated against. 

Together, we outlined the challenges of our respective communities in Germany and Chile. In the former, a significant part of society doesn’t want to talk about the Holocaust anymore and is saying, in effect, “Enough is enough.'' in the latter, the BDS Movement against Israel is growing. Both challenges will need to be dealt with for years to come and highlight the obstacles Jewish communities face from the far left and the extreme right.   

We know our mission is far from over, and we will keep working as part of this greater community of young religious and cultural leaders to address challenges affecting local communities around the world.  

We are stronger when we stand together, united.  

The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps is the flagship program of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), under the vision and leadership of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder. This program empowers the new generations of outstanding Jewish leaders. We are a highly selective worldwide network of over 350 members from 60 countries receiving opportunities, experience, and skills to impact Jewish interests through diplomacy and public policy.