These pages list past Institute programs and its directors' presentations elsewhere. Items marked "video available" can be streamed from this website by clicking on "Videos" in the top navigation bar above.

Remembering a Momentous Moment: The Meeting of Pope John XXIII and Prof. Jules Isaac

May 8, 2020

A webinar co-sponsored with the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies of the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome

 

Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 11 a.m. Philadelphia | 17:00 Rome

 

On June 13, 1960, Prof. Jules Isaac met with Pope John XXIII. Their dialogue led directly to the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate and the Jewish-Catholic dialogue that has now unfolded for six decades.  This webinar marked the 60th anniversary of this historic event by featuring two international leaders of the dialogue: Dr. Mary Boys, SNJM and Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg!

Click HERE for the full details.

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

 

“The Two Popes”: A webinar from the Woolf Institute, Cambridge, UK

April 30, 2020

Institute Director Dr. Philip Cunningham and Dr. Gemma Simmonds, CJ discuss the hit film “The Two Popes.” The film is a biographical drama about Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, played respectively by actors Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. Hopkins was nominated for best supporting actor and Pryce for best actor by the Academy Awards for their performances.

Gemma Simmonds is a sister of the Congregation of Jesus. An honorary fellow of Durham University and past president of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain, she has studied at the universities of Paris, London, Rio de Janeiro and Cambridge, where she undertook a doctorate in theology. She is the Director of the Religious Life Institute in Cambridge.

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

 

From Contempt to Comrades: Tracing the Amazing Transformation of Catholic-Jewish Relations

April 13, 2020

This webinar sponsored by the America-Israel Friendship League featured Rabbi David Rosen and Institute Director Dr. Philip Cunningham.

Jews and Christians this year are celebrating their respective sacred springtime holy days of Passover and Easter in the midst of a plague of biblical proportions.  As COVID-19  calls for us to work even more closely together to make it through, we are reminded to reflect on the amazing journey both faiths are on together  – coming from nearly 2,000 years of hatred and contempt to the positive trajectory of the last 50 years. Today, we continue to build bonds of understanding, education and friendship between the Jewish people and Israel and the Catholic Church. Join us to hear from two of the world’s leading experts leading the  path towards a deeper positive relationship between Jews and Catholics, which in turn, serves as a historic model for improving multi-faith relations around the globe.

Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee and Director of AJC’s Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding.  He is a past chairman of IJCIC, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.  Rabbi Rosen is a member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s commission for Interreligious Dialogue; and serves on the Council of the Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.

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

 

Special Philadelphia Screening: “Holy Silence” — Reconsidering the Catholic Church and the Holocaust

March 3, 2020

A Film by Steven Pressman [trailer]

Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Teletorium in Mandeville Hall [campus map]

Pope Pius XI from the documentary “Holy Silence.” The film examines whether Jewish lives would have been saved had Pope Pius XI or his successor, Pope Pius XII, issued a statement urging the protection of Jews in Axis-held Europe. (PerlePress Productions)

In 1933, the vast majority of Germans belonged to a Christian church. A third of the population (around 20 million) were Roman Catholic, whereas the Jewish community represented less than 1% of the population. As the Nazi Party’s power and antisemitism spread across Europe, how did one of the world’s most influential institutions—the Catholic Church—address and confront the Nazi regime and its laws, particularly the persecution of Jews? Holy Silence is a new thought-provoking documentary that examines the individuals who played a crucial role in shaping the Vatican’s response to the rising Nazi threat across Europe. Stories include: a humble Jesuit priest from New England, a leading American industrialist dispatched on a mission by President Franklin Roosevelt, and high-ranking officials within the Vatican determined to carry out their own objectives.

In collaboration with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, SJU is honored to host a special Philadelphia screening of this important new documentary, including a discussion with its director Steven Pressman.

 

Jewish Views of the Religious “Other”

February 10, 2020

A Two-Part Spring Series Featuring Rabbi Abraham Skorka

Co-author with Pope Francis of On Heaven and Earth

 

Note: All programs are from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the Forum Theater, Campion Student Center [Campus Map].

1. Christianity

Monday, January 27, 2020

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

Response:

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Co-Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations

 


2. Islam and the Religions of Asia

Monday, February 10, 2020

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

Responses:

Dr. Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies

Dr. David Carpenter is Associate Professor of Asian Religions

 

 

 

Did the Bible Sanction Slavery?

November 7, 2019

How the Churches Used the Bible to Justify Slaveholding

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]

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

This presentation discusses how supporters of slavery in the United States and Europe used the Bible and other religious arguments to justify the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans in Europe and the Americas from the 1400s to the late 19th century. Yet, those who advocated the abolition of slavery also called upon the Bible to condemn it as immoral. The dispute demonstrates the complex place of the Bible in American society and jurisprudence.

 

Dr. Paul Finkelman is the President of Gratz College in Philadelphia and the author of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2014); Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court (2018) and Defending Slavery (2019). He has been cited in four decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs.  He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in over a dozen other countries, including China, Germany, Israel, and Japan.  In 2014, he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty for Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.”


Session 3 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.


 

Suffering Citizens: Past Traumas in Jewish and African American Youth Literature

October 23, 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]

 

Cover: As Good as Anybody
Raul Colón, illustrator

Youth literature about and written by Ashkenazi Jews, Christian African Americans, and African American Jews all rely on themes of suffering to graft their subjects into the American body politic. This rhetorical strategy has failures and weaknesses in an age of growing white supremacism. Reading “multi-directionally,” we can see how Jewish and African Americans utilize similar literary strategies but also where their historical experiences differ, and what happens at the intersection of those two identities, as in the case of author Julius Lester and others.

Dr. Jodi Eichler Levine is Director of American Studies, Berman Professor of Jewish Civilization, and Associate Professor of Religion Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. The author of Suffer the Little Children: Uses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children’s Literature (2013, 2015), she analyzes what is at stake in portraying religious history for young people, particularly when their histories are traumatic ones. Her work is located at the intersection of Jewish studies, religion in North America, literature, material culture, and gender studies. Future projects include a book on Jewish women, material culture, politics, and performance, currently titled Crafting Judaism: Creativity, Gender, and Jewish Americans and ongoing research into Jewish children’s literature, popular culture, race, ethnicity, and religion in the USA.


Session 2 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.


 

Longing for Mayberry: Cultural Ideals as Weapons of Exclusion

September 25, 2019

Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

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

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]

 

Historically, the concept of an ideal community that is populated with ideal people includes appeals to nostalgia, as seen in the fictional idyllic 1960s television town of Mayberry. The ideals look innocent on the surface, but they are arranged according to a cultural template that actually gives license to exclude and to do harm to others who seem outside the template.

 

Dr. Reggie L. Williams is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and an expert on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Protestant minister who was executed for participating in an assassination plot against Hitler. His 2014 book, Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance was selected as a Choice Outstanding Title in 2015 in the field of religion. His research interests include Christology, theological anthropology, Christian social ethics, race, politics and black church life. His current book project is a religious critique of whiteness in the Harlem Renaissance, entitled Interrogating Theological Anthropology in the Harlem Renaissance: The Figure of the Human as a Problem for Christian Ethics. In addition, he is working on a book analyzing the reception of Bonhoeffer by liberation activists in apartheid South Africa.


Session 1 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.


 

Jews and Pharisees: Reality versus Portrayal in Christian Preaching

September 18, 2019

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

Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Dr. Philip A. Cunningham from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia discuss the facts on the ground during the Second Temple period, which includes the time of Jesus of Nazareth, with regards to the group known as the “Pharisees.”  Skorka and Cunningham detail the Pharisees’ relations with Jesus before the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, as interpreted in the Gospel of Matthew after that event, and their connection with what would become the rabbinical establishment in post-Temple Judaism.  The two scholars also touch on their meetings with Pope Francis and how contemporary interfaith educational efforts regarding the truth about the Pharisees can help heal the ancient wounds of antisemitism caused by misunderstandings and polemics about the Pharisees’ historical role and their true identity.  A program of AJC Westchester/Fairfield and the “Shared Roots, Divergent Paths” Series at Iona College, this event was recorded at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY on September 18, 2019.

 

Who Were the Pharisees and Why Is That Important in 2019?

August 19, 2019

Audio

The New Testament often depicts Pharisees as the foes of Jesus.

Institute Co-Director Philip A. Cunningham was interviewed today on the radio program “AJC Live” by host Scott Richman, regional director of American Jewish Committee of Westchester/Fairfield. This edition of the biweekly radio show focused on the ancient Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. Who were they, and how were they perceived then and now? This show explored these questions as part of a continuing process to build better relations between Christians and Jews. Dr. Philip Cunningham, Professor of Theology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia was interviewed by AJC Westchester/Fairfield Director Scott Richman on this issue in anticipation of his visit to Westchester. Dr. Cunningham will speak on the topic of the Pharisees, along with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, on September 23rd at Iona College as part of the “Shared Roots, Divergent Paths” series of programs. Also joining the show were Dr. Elena Procario-Foley, Driscoll Professor of Jewish-Catholic Studies and Chair of the Religious Studies Department at Iona College, as well as Nancy Fried-Tanzer who chairs the Shared Roots, Divergent Paths series on behalf of AJC Westchester/Fairfield.