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

The Church and the Jews Fifty Years after Vatican II – University of Scranton

May 7, 2015


Two prominent scholars will discuss important changes that have taken place in the relationship between Catholics and Jews at The University of Scranton’s Weinberg Judaic Studies Institute lecture on Thursday, May 7. David Berger, Ph.D., Ruth and I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History and dean at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University in New York City; and Philip A. Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of theology and director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, will discuss “The Church and the Jews, Fifty Years After Vatican II.”

Dr. Berger, author of “The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages,” which was awarded the John Nicholas Brown Prize by the Medieval Academy of America, has written many articles on medieval Jewish history, Jewish-Christian relations, antisemitism, contemporary Judaism and the intellectual history of the Jews. His articles on Jewish-Christian relations have been collected in “Persecution, Polemic and Dialogue: Essays in Jewish-Christian Relations” and those on intellectual history have been collected in “Cultures in Collision and Conversation: Essays in the Intellectual History of the Jews.” Cochair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, Dr. Berger is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and a member of the Council of the World Union of Jewish Studies.

Dr. Cunningham, who serves as president of the International Council of Christians and Jews and as secretary-treasurer of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR), has been a member of the Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is also webmaster of the CCJR’s online resource supersite called Dialogika. Interested in biblical studies, religious education and theologies of Christian-Jewish relations, Dr. Cunningham is the author of several book and articles on these subjects. His most recent book, “Seeking Shalom: The Journey to Right Relationship between Catholics and Jews,” will be published later this year. His previous book, “Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships,” received wide praise.


Spring Dialogue Series: Israel and Contemporary Jewish-Christian Relations

April 14, 2015

Tuesdays, April 14, 21, and 28, 2015 | 7-9 p.m.

Facilitated by Profs. Philip A. Cunningham and Adam Gregerman

Haub Executive Suite, Large Lapsley Room, McShain Hall

For historical, theological, and political reasons, the subjects of the Land and State of Israel prompt intense and sometimes difficult conversations between Jews and Christians. Join us for a three-part series of interfaith dialogues in which we explore constructive ways of approaching these vitally important topics. We will consider diverse viewpoints on the subject both between and within our communities and the challenges they pose to interreligious relations.


The 2015 series is connected to a five-year research project funded primarily by the International Council of Christians and Jews with additional support from several universities, including the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University. During the three sessions, we will:

  • “Field test” a process to promote a sympathetic reading of documents that one might not be inclined to be sympathetic toward;
  • Hear documents on their own terms and identify their presuppositions, assumptions, approaches, fears, and concerns;
  • Appreciate diverse range of approaches between and within religious communities, especially in terms of using sacred or authoritative texts;
  • Become more aware of our own presuppositions, assumptions, approaches, fears, and concerns
  • Help develop means for interreligious conversations to occur that lead to understanding.

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.