CFCJ São Paulo Fraternity award 2024

The São Paulo Conselho de Fraternidade Cristão-Judaica (CFCJ) has paid tribute to Raul Meyer for his relentless commitment to interfaith dialogue.

The Council promotes friendship and respect between Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews and the interfaith award ceremony aims to give visibility to the message of the potential of faith to cultivate peace, justice, freedom, and solidarity.

The prize, a bronze sculpture of a dove of peace, is passed on to a new awardee every two years. The emphasis in selection of who to honour is on their peaceful activism. Raul Meyer’s work in promoting active participation in inter-religious dialogue in Catholic parishes was a deciding factor this year.

Raul Meyer’s past positions include: President and religious leader of the Shalom Jewish community, Director of Youth at the Congregação Israelita Paulista, and President of the Centro de Cultura Judaica. He is currently a religious leader of the Esh Tamid Community, founder of the Conselho Abraâmica in São Paulo, and Director of interreligious relations at the Federação Israelita do Estado de São Paulo.

The award ceremony, held on 24 January, brought together religious figures and representatives of community and civil organisations, including: Edgar Lagus, Vice President of B’nai B’rith Brazil, Ricardo Birkenstadt, President of the São Paulo State Federation; Fernando Lottenberg, the evening’s master of ceremonies and former President of the Confederação Israelita do Brasil, Laura Feldman, president of the Congregação Israelita Paulista; Conego José Bizon, Director of the House of Reconciliation, Fr. Donizete, brother of Notre Dame de Sion; Sheik Muhammad Al Bukai, of the Mesquita Brasil mosque in São Paulo, Rabbi Tamara Schaga and Rabbi Kelita Cohen.

The award was presented by Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop of São Paulo, himself recipient of the award in 2020. Other previous recipients include Pope John Paul II and Dr. Hugo Schlesinger.

In his address, Dom Odilo commended Raul Meyer’s engagement in the face of challenges and his leadership of outstanding peace-building projects.

“Raul has a long history of building and promoting interreligious dialogue,” he said, “and is committed to carrying forward the heritage of faith and fraternity.”

Meyer pointed out that the award is confirmation of the work of everyone who fights united for the same cause, highlighting the importance of the spirituality of dialogue, and echoing the CFJC’s mission to create genuine bonds of unity and fraternity between different faiths.

The CFCJ was founded in 1962 by three pioneers of Jewish-Christian relations in Brazil: Father Humberto Porto, Rabbi Hugo Schlesinger and Sister Izabel Wilken, NDS. Today, the founders’ legacy is carried forward by President Ricardo Schlesinger and Vice President Sister Cristiane dos Santos, NDS.

Sr. Cristiane remarked that it was a very beautiful and memorable celebration. She sees the event and her participation in the Fraternity Council as a practical – not just theoretical – experience of her call, as a sister of Our Lady of Sion, to the Church, the Jewish people and the world, to make peace, justice and love a reality.

“It is sitting at the same table, face-to-face,” she said, “that we understand each other, respect each other and get to know each other so that we can work together.”

Well aware that the current moment requires the group to be better prepared than ever to face new challenges, she added: “May God help us in this challenging task”.

Sr. Cristiane’s upcoming engagements include participation in the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) Conference in Salzburg, Austria, in June.

Visit the CFCJ’s website


Photo credit: Luciney Martins/O São Paulo newspaper