Learning How to Talk to Each Other: Religious Conversation among Jews, Christians, and Muslims since Vatican II

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 7 p.m. Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall

Fifty years ago, cardinals, bishops, and theologians began drafting the document that eventually become the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate). It quickly became apparent that the proposed text should express the Catholic Church’s desire for friendship and conversation not only with Jews, but with Muslims and people of other religious traditions as well. This presented unforeseen challenges. In the following decades bilateral discussions have been fostered between Jews and Muslims, Muslims and Christians, Christians and Jews, and among all three “Abrahamic” traditions together. Preliminary encounters revealed the existence of a certain amount of “gibberish” in how we hear and speak about each other. They also showed that the theological dynamics between any two of the Abrahamic traditions are different in regard to the third.  This special panel consisting of a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim—all of whom are dedicated to interreligious understanding—will discuss these issues, which continue to shape tri-lateral relations today.  The moderator will be Dr. William Madges, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Rabbi Dr. Nancy Fuchs Kreimer is the Director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbincal College and Associate Professor of Religious Studies. She holds a PhD in Religion from Temple University where her doctoral work was in the field of Jewish-Christian Relations. In 2006, Nancy began to develop an innovative service learning course at RRC, “Islam for Rabbis.” Since 2007, that course, along with other projects that serve communities beyond RRC, has been funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Nancy serves on the boards of the Interfaith Center of Philadelphia and Clergy Beyond Borders. Her recent publications include book chapters in Interfaith Just Peacemaking (Macmillan, 2012), My Neighbor’s Faith (Orbis,2011), Women and Interreligious Dialogue (forthcoming) and Can Only One Religion be True?(Fortress, 2013). With Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, she co-edited Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of our Lives (forthcoming from Wipf and Stock, 2013).

Anse Tamara Gray is an educator with twenty years of experience in the Middle East. She has worked in private schools and institutions, in big cities and villages. She worked to publish culturally appropriate English Language programs, and to develop teacher-training workshops that would raise the level of teaching regionally. While she worked to bring quality education to women and children, she was also pursuing her own further education in classic Islamic studies. She began an in-depth study of the biography of the Prophet(s) with the professor whose book she would later help translate. She went on to study the Islamic subjects of hadeeth, tafseer, fiqh, aqeedah and others; which are the equivalent of a BA in Shariah. An ijazah (certificate) in Quran crowned her work in tajweed and she translated a book on that subject as well. Concerned about women’s issues, she began a website – Rabata.org (meaning to tie together), dedicated to building spiritual ties between women, the spiritual upbringing of women by women, and the establishment of the female voice in Islamic scholarship.  Interfaith dialogue, wherein people of faith come together to understand each other, is another area of her interests. She hopes that people of faith can come together to establish a better world – the world we are meant to live in.

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University, where he is also Professor of Theology in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. Interested in biblical studies, religious education, and theologies of the Jewish and Christian relationship, he is the author or co-editor of numerous articles and books, including the recently published: Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships (Eerdmans and Gregorian & Biblical Presses). Dr. Cunningham serves as a Vice-President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) and as Secretary-Treasurer of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR). He also is the webmaster of the online resource library in Christian-Jewish relations called Dialogika (www.dialogika.us), a joint project of the CCJR and Saint Joseph’s University. He has been a member of the advisory committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.