Learning in the Presence of the Other: Deepening the Dialogue between Catholics and Jews

Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee

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How can members of different faith traditions dialogue with openness and respect? How can they confront the painful conflicts in their history and overcome theological misconceptions and even learn from each other? For more than twenty-five years, Professors Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee have explored ways that Catholics and Jews can overcome mistrust and misunderstandings through a process of “Interreligious Learning,” which they have studied and developed. This entails not simply learning about the other from within one’s own faith community, but rather engaging in specific learning activities with members of the other faith—learning in the presence of the other. Drawing upon examples from their own experiences, they will lay out a framework for engaging the religious other in depth.

Mary C. Boys, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, is Dean of Academic Affairs and the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. She is the author of several books, including Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman’s Experience; Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding; and, most recently, Redeeming Our Sacred Story: The Death of Jesus and Relations between Jews and Christians. She and Sara S. Lee wrote Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other.

Sara S. Lee is the emeritus director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Recipient of the Samuel Rothberg Prize in Jewish Education for Hebrew University in Jerusalem and of the Pras HaNasi, the President of Israel’s Award for Distinguished Leadership of Jewish Education in the Diaspora, she is also past president of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education. She edited Communities of Learning: A Vision for the Jewish Future and co-edited Congregation of Learners and Touching the Future: Mentoring and the Jewish Professional.