These pages list past Institute programs and its directors' presentations elsewhere. Streaming videos are available for many recent events.

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

February 26, 2015

Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee



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.

Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Vision for a New Jewish-Christian Relationship and Its Continuing Importance for Today

December 2, 2014

Dr. Susannah Heschel


Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 7 p.m.  – 9 p.m. (Large Maguire Room, Haub Executive Suite, McShain Hall)

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), one of the most influential modern theologians, played a pivotal role in shaping the new relationship between Jews and Christians. His article “No Religion is an Island” (1966) was an especially important Jewish statement on interreligious relations. Dr. Susannah Heschel, his daughter and a religious historian, will reflect on his approach and insights, and consider their relevance almost fifty years later.

Susannah Heschel, Ph.D. is Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, and the author of numerous books and articles, including Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany.  She is also the editor of Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Currently she holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and is writing a book on the history of European Jewish scholarship on Islam from the 1830s to the 1930s.

This program is part of the annual fall speakers series “Facing Out to Look Within: Modern Jewish Intellectual Leadership,” co-sponsored by the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Beth Am Israel, and Main Line Reform Temple-Beth Elohim.

“Is the Lord not in Zion?” (Jer 8:19)

November 10, 2014

Christian Biblical Interpretations of the Modern Jewish Return to the Land of Israel – Catholic Theological Union

Fall Shapiro Lecture at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago

Dr. Adam Gregerman



More than any other issue in modern Jewish-Christian relations, the state of Israel has provoked intense disagreements. These reflect not just political differences but often profoundly different theologies of the land of Israel and the biblical promises. Dr. Gregerman will explore, from a Jewish perspective, the tensions between contemporary Christians’ broadly positive reappraisals of Judaism and more controversial Christian views of the state of Israel and biblical texts on land and covenant.

Dr. Adam Gregerman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and Assistant Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studies the complex relationship between Judaism and Christianity, focusing on biblical interpretation and religious polemics, especially about theologies of the land of Israel and experiences of suffering and loss. His articles have appeared in journals such as Interpretation, Cross Currents, Journal of Ecumenical Studies, and Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations and in numerous edited volumes. He is a member of the Committee on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and has received fellowships for the study of interreligious relations from the Hebrew University, the American Academy of Religion / Henry Luce Foundation, and Cross Currents / Association for Religion and Intellectual Life.

What Can Catholics and Jews Say to Each Other Today?

November 4, 2014

An Exercise in Re-imagining Two Landmark Documents


Rev. Dr. John Crossin and Rabbi Dr. David Fox Sandmel

Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.  (Large Maguire Room, Haub Executive Suite, McShain Hall)

Nearly fifty years ago, the Second Vatican Council issued the groundbreaking declaration, “Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Relations,” which rejected a long history of hostility toward Jews and made possible a new relationship. Nearly fifteen years ago, Jewish scholars published a historic text: “Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity.” It sought to explain to Jewish readers the changes underway in Christian-Jewish relations because of documents such as Nostra Aetate.  Join us as two interfaith leaders consider the respective Catholic and Jewish documents and re-imagine what would be different about them if they were updated in the light of developments that have occurred since their original publications.

Rev. John W. Crossin, Ph.D. is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). A member of the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, he holds a Ph.D. in moral theology and master’s degrees in psychology and theology from The Catholic University of America. He has served as president of the North American Academy of Ecumenists.

Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, Ph.D. is Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. He earned his doctorate in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on the History and Literature of Judaism and Christianity in the Greco-Roman World. He received his Rabbinic Ordination and Masters in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.

The Legacies of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II

May 1, 2014

A panel discussion of Pope Francis’ homily at the April 27th canonizations

THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2014 ▪ 7:00-8:30 PM
Presidents’ Lounge, Campion Hall

This panel will conclude the Institute’s spring series “The Popes and the Jewish People,” which marked the canonizations of Pope John XXIII (who convened the Second Vatican Council) and Pope John Paul II (who vigorously implemented the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate.

Philip A. Cunningham, Director, Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations
Adam L. Gregerman, Assistant Director, Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations
Shawn Krahmer, Chair, Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Rocco Palmo, Journalist, Whispers in the Loggia

The text of Pope Francis’ homily at the canonizations.

Spring Dialogue Series: The Popes and the Jewish People

April 3, 2014

The Story of a Transformed Relationship

A special series to mark the upcoming canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II


Three interfaith dialogues on papal and other texts across the decades

Facilitated by Dr. Philip A. Cunningham and Dr. Adam L. Gregerman.


THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2014  ▪  7:00 – 8:30 PM
Haub Executive Suite, McShain Hall, 5th floor

Pope John XXIII’s convening of a great church council in the 1960s was an opportunity to start a new relationship between Jews and Catholics. But there were powerful forces at work on all sides that made any conversation difficult.


THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014  ▪  7:00 – 8:30 PM
Haub Executive Suite, McShain Hall, 5th floor

Although rapprochement with Jews was a personal priority for Pope John Paul II in the 1980s-1990s, a series of controversies threatened to cancel early steps toward a new interreligious relationship.


THURSDAY, APRIL, April 24, 2014  ▪  7:00 – 8:30 PM
Presidents’ Lounge, Campion Hall

Despite periodic missteps, Catholic-Jewish interactions became widespread. Pope Benedict XVI broke new ground on key theological questions about the “new relationship,” even while his eventual successor, Jorge Bergoglio (Pope Francis), was experiencing that new relationship with the Jewish community in his native Argentina.

The Passover Seder at SJU

March 30, 2014

Jews and Christians Experiencing Exodus Together

Sunday, March 30, 2014, 4 p.m.  in McShain Hall: Haub Executive Suite (5th floor)


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.


When Racism and Theology Mix

March 20, 2014

Launching the Spring Series: The Popes and the Jewish People

THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2014 ▪ 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Haub Executive Suite, McShain Hall, 5th floor 

In the late 19th and into the 20th century, the widespread attitude of Catholics and other Christians was that Jews were divinely destined to suffer and be on the margins of society. As this presentation will show, this sentiment contributed to the growing power of racial antisemitism, making the lives of Jews in Europe more precarious. It was in this climate that Pope Pius X stated that “we cannot concede Judaism any further validity.”

GUEST SPEAKER:  Kevin Spicer, C.S.C., Ph.D., a priest in the Congregation of the Holy Cross, is the James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History, Stonehill College, Easton, MA, and the author of Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism and Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler’s Berlin.


Jews Worshiping Jesus and Christians Practicing Judaism: Everything Old is New Again

February 27, 2014

Thursday, February 27. 3:30-5:00 P.M.

Campion Student Center – Sunroom 1

Please join us for an exciting opportunity for an informal conversation with Prof. Amy-Jill Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Prof. Levine is a world-renowned New Testament scholar and authority on Jewish-Christian relations, as well as a dynamic, lively speaker. Most recently, she has co-edited The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

We have asked her to say a few words about a topic of current interest in Christian-Jewish relations: Jews who worship Jesus (so-called “Messianic Jews”) and Christians who observe aspects of Torah (sometimes called “Judaizing Christians”). After her remarks, we’ll chat with her and each other. If you have heard her speak before—she visited SJU in 2009—you will surely agree she shouldn’t be missed!

Transcending Trauma 75 Years after Kristallnacht

November 7, 2013

Survivor Stories, the Search for Meaning, and Attitudes toward Perpetrators

Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 7 p.m. Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall


Kristallnacht, or “The Night of Broken Glass,” was a planned series of attacks on Jewish synagogues and businesses in Nazi Germany that erupted on the night of November 9-10, 1938. Many historians date this rampage as the beginning of the Shoah (Holocaust). Members of the Transcending Trauma Project will present excerpts from survivor testimony on what they saw and experienced that night. The impact of Kristallnacht and the Holocaust in general on survivor attitudes towards perpetrators will be explored along with the survivors’ search for meaning.

Bea Hollander-Goldfein, Ph.D. is the Director of the Transcending Trauma Project, a comprehensive research project investigating coping and adaptation after extreme trauma, at the Council for Relationships (CFR). CFR, the Division of Couple and Family Studies in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, is a non-profit outpatient treatment and training center. Dr. Hollander-Goldfein is the Director of the AAMFT accredited Post Graduate Certificate Program in Marriage and Family Therapy, the Director of Research, and the Director of Supervision at the Council for Relationships. She is an instructor and supervisor in the Post Graduate Training Program and a Clinical Assistant Professor at Jefferson Medical College. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and subsequently attained certification in Marriage and Family Therapy. Systemic theory has guided her clinical practice and research activities for 30 years. She has presented broadly on the topic of trauma and the importance of an integrated model of coping and adaptation. She has also published in the fields of Marriage and Family Therapy and Trauma Studies. She is the senior author of the book, Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience and Clinical Implications in Survivor Families (Routledge, 2012).

Nancy Isserman, Ph.D. is the Senior Research Fellow, Council for Relationships. Since 1993, Dr. Isserman has been the co-director of the Transcending Trauma Project, a qualitative research project, consisting of in-depth interviews of almost 300 Holocaust survivors and three generations of family members on resilience and coping pre, during and after World War II. She is a co-author of Transcending Trauma: Survival, Resilience, and Clinical Implications in Survivor Families (Routledge, 2012). Dr. Isserman has published articles, book reviews, and co-edited books on topics relating to trauma and Holocaust survivors, the contemporary Jewish experience, marriage and family relationship education, and on tolerance in survivors. Currently, she is also working with the Oral History Division of the Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to analyze attitudes towards perpetrators found in the Judith Kestenberg Child Survivor Interviews Archive. Isserman’s PhD from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, “I Harbor No Hate: Tolerance and Intolerance in Holocaust Survivors” received the 2004-2005 Braham Dissertation Award.