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.

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


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.


The Challenges of Post-Supersessionism in Contemporary Christianity

May 9, 2019

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

Institute Co-Director Adam Gregerman gave this presentation at a conference called “The Identity of Israel: Jews, Christians, and the Bible” at Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. He discusses the following questions:

  • What is the status of the biblical covenant with the (original) people of Israel / the Jews after Christ?
  • What tensions are raised for Christian theology with the rejection of supersessionism?
  • If the Jewish covenant with God is valid, should Christians seek to convert Jews?
  • If God’s covenant with the Jews remains valid, do the specific land promises within it also remain valid?
  • If the Old Covenant with the Jews remains valid, of what value is the New Christian Covenant?


The Pharisees as a Textbook Case: How the Pharisees Are Presented in Catholic Religion Textbooks

May 9, 2019

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

Institute Co-Director Philip Cunningham offered this multimedia presentation during an international conference “Jesus and the Pharisees: An Interdisciplinary Reappraisal,” sponsored in Rome by the Pontifical Biblical Institute. This presentation summarizes the results of three content analyses of Catholic religion textbooks and one of Protestant textbooks in the United States over the past several decades in terms of their presentations of the Pharisees. These studies are supplemented with surveys of current textbook materials in the United States and Italy, and a parallel content analysis of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The Italian texts were studied by Dr. Maria Brutti. The presentation examined the reasons why textbook treatments of the Pharisees and Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries are so challenging and concluded with concrete recommendations for improvement in the future.


The Pharisees as Seen by Medieval Rabbis

May 8, 2019

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

University Professor Rabbi Abraham Skorka offered this lecture during an international conference “Jesus and the Pharisees: An Interdisciplinary Reappraisal,” sponsored in Rome by the Pontifical Biblical Institute. He examines the writings of the medieval sages Rashi, Nachmanides and Maimonides for their understanding of the relationship to those called the Perushim (usually rendered as the Pharisees) with the Early Hasidim, the later Hasidim (holy or pious ones), the Early Hakhamim and the later Hakhamim (the sages or wise ones). He concludes that the Medieval writers used the word Perushim in particular circumstances with regard to a pious Jew who fulfills the commandments in a very intense or zealous way. Despite the many cases in the Talmudic literature where the teachings of the Perushim were seemingly accepted by the Hakhamim, there is not sufficient evidence to allow us to see the Hakhamim as the continuation of the Perushim. Nevertheless, many of the teachings of the Perushim were adopted by the Hakhamin since they maintained a spiritual vision that (in contrast with the Sadducees and other sects) remained in many respects the view and vision of the Jewish people throughout the generations.


The Passover Seder at SJU

April 7, 2019

Jews and Christians Experiencing Exodus Together

Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.


McShain Hall: Haub Conference Center, Large Maguire Room

[Campus Map]


The Passover Meal, the Seder, marks one of the major feasts on the Jewish calendar. Passover is also important for Christians since the story of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt is a principal element of many Christian observances, especially during Holy Week. The Seder meal is a wonderful way for Christians to have a direct experience of Jewish spiritual life, and for both communities to rededicate themselves to a world in which slavery and injustice are no more.

The Passover Seder at SJU is a full catered kosher meal. Participants will join in the prayers, songs, and celebration in as close to a traditionally Jewish form as possible.

Registration is required. A limited number of seats are available for a roughly equal number of Christians and Jews (others welcome, too!). Register soon: first come, first served!




Fulfilling the Promise of a New Relationship: A Public Roundtable on Covenant and the Land

January 8, 2019

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Campion Student Center: Doyle Banquet Hall North

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


From Monday, January 7 through Thursday, January 10, 2019, the Institute welcomed twenty scholars from eight countries to study together major issues in Christian-Jewish relations. Participants heard and discussed papers on topics that included identity and borders, fulfillment, Jewish and Christian missions, Christology, covenant, the Apostle Paul, and the connections between Christian-Jewish relations and global religious pluralism.

Gavin D’Costa
University of Bristol
United Kingdom

Amy-Jill Levine
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee

On Tuesday evening, an open session of the conference provided an experience of its deliberations in a “fishbowl” format. Dr. Gavin D’Costa from the University of Bristol, U.K. presented his paper, “Catholic Theology and the Promise of the Land as Part of the Jewish Covenant.” Dr. Amy-Jill Levine from Vanderbilt University responded, followed by a general discussion among all the conference participants and the audience. This was an unusual opportunity for intensive theological dialogue and reflection. 


Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Dialogue with Other Religions: Are They Mutually Complementary?

November 12, 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018 at 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Large Lapsley Room, Haub Executive Center in McShain Hall 

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

It is often claimed that Judaism and Christianity stand in a unique relationship with each other because of their special historical and theological connections, which is not true of the relationship of Christianity with other religions. The presentation critically examines the validity of this claim and explores the theological possibility of attributing a “special” relationship between God and other religions and the desirability of applying the same process and patterns of the Jewish-Christian dialogue to the interreligious dialogue between Christianity and all religions.

Dr. Peter C. Phan is the inaugural holder of the Ignacio Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought at Georgetown University. He holds three earned doctorates and three honorary doctorates. He is the author/editor of 30 books and author of 300 essays and book reviews. His latest book is The Joy of Religious Pluralism. A Personal Journey (Orbis Books, 2017).



Interreligious Service of Solidarity

October 29, 2018

Interreligious Service of Solidarity – Oct 29, 2018

In the wake of the murders of eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life – Or Simchat Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, the SJU and local communities gathered at the sculpture of “Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time” for prayer.

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

The Institute also issued a statement “Dialogue is the Only Way.”


Moving Toward Mutuality? – Challenges in Catholic-Jewish Relations

October 28, 2018

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

Dr. Cunningham delivered this lecture on Oct. 25, 2018 , at Saint Leo University’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies. In the 53 years since the Second Vatican Council, a remarkable new relationship between Jews and Catholics has developed. With long-standing hostile Christian teachings having been formally repudiated, the two communities are now on the threshold of a historically unprecedented relationship of mutuality – if they can overcome certain lingering obstacles and habits. This presentation briefly reviews past developments and then consider the simultaneously challenging and promising situation in which Catholic-Jewish relations stand today.