Interfaith Expert to Discuss Jewish Perspectives of Other Faiths

SJU Office of Communications

Rabbi Abraham Skorka , a renowned scholar on interreligious dialogue and co-author with Pope Francis of On Heaven and Earth, will present a pair of discussions on Jewish views of other religions this spring. Skorka, a University professor and visiting scholar with the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University, will begin the series by considering Jewish perspectives on Christianity on Monday, Jan. 27. A second event, focusing on Jewish views of Islam, is scheduled for Feb. 10.

Since joining Saint Joseph’s in the fall of 2018, Rabbi Skorka served for almost 20 years as the rector of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During his time as rector, he hosted a series of televised discussions with the future Pope, then the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, on their views of each other’s faiths and how each applied to modern issues. The talks were later edited into On Heaven and Earth, which recently marked 10 years of publication.

Since his arrival on campus, Skorka has developed new programming for the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations, including a series of talks in which he explained Jewish perspectives on divisive issues — including crumbling public discourse, abortion and the intersection of science and religion.

“In these two programs, Rabbi Skorka combines his years of experience in interreligious dialogue with his deep knowledge of the rabbinic writings,” says Philip Cunningham, Ph.D., director of the Institute. “He will discuss the difficulties that certain Christian doctrines have posed for Jews over the centuries and the new possibilities for Christian-Jewish understanding today.”

Skorka says that the discussion is timelessly relevant and that people from each faith have had questions about the other for many years.

“Over the centuries, Jews have struggled to understand how Christians could claim to be monotheists and talk about God as a Trinity, while Christians could not comprehend why Jews rejected their claims about Jesus,” he says. “Now we are able to speak together about our basic differences in constructive and even inspiring ways.”

After Skorka’s remarks, Cunningham will offer a Christian response.

In the Feb. 10 discussion, Skorka will speak on Jewish views of Islam and religions with Asian origins. Responding to him will be David Carpenter, Ph.D., and Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu, Ph.D., associate professors of theology and religious studies. Both events will be held at 7 p.m. in the Forum Theatre in Campion Student Center.