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

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.

Crossing Borders: Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting Place of Cultures

October 7, 2013

Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall

The Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University tell a fascinating and multicoloured story of medieval Jews in a world culturally and socially shaped by Christian and Muslim domination. Covering a time span of 300 years between the thirteenth and the fifteenth century, the manuscripts bring to light different ways in which the dominant culture of the region where Jews as a minority lived had an impact on Hebrew manuscript production. These manuscripts, including illuminated ones, demonstrate brilliantly the shared cultural values between minority and majority even when these cultures could be at loggerheads with each other. By importing elements of the host culture, Hebrew manuscripts are proof of coexistence and cultural affinity, as well as practical cooperation between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbours in the Middle Ages.

Piet Van Boxel, Ph.D is Fellow at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University. He lectured on rabbinic Judaism and served as the Hebraica and Judaica Curator of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, where he also organized a well-attended exhibition of the Hebrew manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, presenting to the public their oriental and occidental political, cultural and socio-religious context. Professor Van Boxel’s research interests include Hebrew manuscripts and early Hebrew printing with special interest in ecclesiastical censorship of Hebrew books in sixteenth-century Italy. His doctoral thesis (Tilburg University; Holland, 1983) explores the multifaceted connections between the Counter-Reformation and rabbinic texts. He published several academic studies on Rabbinic Judaism and Jewish-Christian relations, among them “Man’s behavior and God’s Justice in Early Jewish Tradition. Some Observations” (1988); “Robert Bellarmine, Christian Hebraist and Censor” (2006); and “Hebrew Books and Censorship in Sixteenth-Century Italy” (2013). In addition to his academic publications he wrote and presented four television documentaries and many popular radio programs on Jewish and Jewish-Christian issues.

Dr. Van Boxel’s presentation at SJU is the first of a three-part series sponsored by the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with Beth Am Israel, Main Line Reform Temple-Beth Elohim, and the SJU Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations.

The Passover Seder at SJU: Experiencing Exodus Together

March 17, 2013

Campion Hall: Banquet Hall North

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Main Line Reform Temple-Beth Elohim, Temple Har Zion, and SJU’s Interfaith Task Force.

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. A limited number of seats are available for 50 Christians and 50 Jews – first come, first served – so register as soon as possible!

Learning How to Talk to Each Other: Religious Conversation among Jews, Christians, and Muslims since Vatican II

January 28, 2013


Monday, January 28, 2013 at 7 p.m. Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall

Fifty years ago, cardinals, bishops, and theologians began drafting the document that eventually become the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate). It quickly became apparent that the proposed text should express the Catholic Church’s desire for friendship and conversation not only with Jews, but with Muslims and people of other religious traditions as well. This presented unforeseen challenges. In the following decades bilateral discussions have been fostered between Jews and Muslims, Muslims and Christians, Christians and Jews, and among all three “Abrahamic” traditions together. Preliminary encounters revealed the existence of a certain amount of “gibberish” in how we hear and speak about each other. They also showed that the theological dynamics between any two of the Abrahamic traditions are different in regard to the third.  This special panel consisting of a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim—all of whom are dedicated to interreligious understanding—will discuss these issues, which continue to shape tri-lateral relations today.  The moderator will be Dr. William Madges, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Rabbi Dr. Nancy Fuchs Kreimer is the Director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at the Reconstructionist Rabbincal College and Associate Professor of Religious Studies. She holds a PhD in Religion from Temple University where her doctoral work was in the field of Jewish-Christian Relations. In 2006, Nancy began to develop an innovative service learning course at RRC, “Islam for Rabbis.” Since 2007, that course, along with other projects that serve communities beyond RRC, has been funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Nancy serves on the boards of the Interfaith Center of Philadelphia and Clergy Beyond Borders. Her recent publications include book chapters in Interfaith Just Peacemaking (Macmillan, 2012), My Neighbor’s Faith (Orbis,2011), Women and Interreligious Dialogue (forthcoming) and Can Only One Religion be True?(Fortress, 2013). With Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, she co-edited Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of our Lives (forthcoming from Wipf and Stock, 2013).

Anse Tamara Gray is an educator with twenty years of experience in the Middle East. She has worked in private schools and institutions, in big cities and villages. She worked to publish culturally appropriate English Language programs, and to develop teacher-training workshops that would raise the level of teaching regionally. While she worked to bring quality education to women and children, she was also pursuing her own further education in classic Islamic studies. She began an in-depth study of the biography of the Prophet(s) with the professor whose book she would later help translate. She went on to study the Islamic subjects of hadeeth, tafseer, fiqh, aqeedah and others; which are the equivalent of a BA in Shariah. An ijazah (certificate) in Quran crowned her work in tajweed and she translated a book on that subject as well. Concerned about women’s issues, she began a website – (meaning to tie together), dedicated to building spiritual ties between women, the spiritual upbringing of women by women, and the establishment of the female voice in Islamic scholarship.  Interfaith dialogue, wherein people of faith come together to understand each other, is another area of her interests. She hopes that people of faith can come together to establish a better world – the world we are meant to live in.

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University, where he is also Professor of Theology in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. Interested in biblical studies, religious education, and theologies of the Jewish and Christian relationship, he is the author or co-editor of numerous articles and books, including the recently published: Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships (Eerdmans and Gregorian & Biblical Presses). Dr. Cunningham serves as a Vice-President of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) and as Secretary-Treasurer of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR). He also is the webmaster of the online resource library in Christian-Jewish relations called Dialogika (, a joint project of the CCJR and Saint Joseph’s University. He has been a member of the advisory committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Was There ‘Christian Marriage’ in the Middle Ages?

December 3, 2012

Dr. Ruth Mazo Karras

Monday, December 3, 2012 at 7 p.m. | Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall

The issue of who gets to decide what constitutes marriage in American society is under much discussion today, in media headlines as well as among academicians. Many voices invoke the “Judeo-Christian tradition” to argue for a Bible-based understanding of marriage. People tend to think of the Middle Ages as a time of traditional religion; so is that when Christian marriage developed, out of the Roman and Jewish traditions? This lecture argues that calling medieval marriage “Christian” is problematic, and raises the further question of whether an institution is Christian because it happens among Christians in the same way that something is Jewish because it happens among Jews.

Ruth Mazo Karras is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is also a co-editor of the journal Gender & History. Past President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (2005-08), she is the author of four books and numerous articles on various aspects of medieval social and cultural history, gender, and sexuality. Her current research concerns the formation of quasi-marital unions in medieval Western Europe.

The Lessons of Kristallnacht for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations Today

November 14, 2012


Rabbi Dr. Mark Winer

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 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).  In our own time, acts of terrorism couched in religious rhetoric have intensified feelings of interreligious hostility. Rabbi Winer, drawing on his extensive experience in promoting understanding among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, will reflect on the interreligious attitudes among these three traditions today.

Rabbi Dr. Mark L. Winer is the recently retired senior Rabbi at the West London Synagogue of British Jews. He graduated from Harvard Magna Cum Laude and earned his PhD at Yale, where he studied Sociology, Comparative Religion, Contemporary Jewry, and Race and Ethnic Relations. He has served as President of the National Council of Synagogues (USA), as well as heading an international initiative called FAITH: the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony. He has been involved in several international events, including the treaty between Israel and the Vatican, the release of Ethiopian Jews, and the dispute over the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz. Currently he is Chairman of the International Interfaith Task Force for the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

From Moses to Moses There Was None Like Moses: Moses Maimonides and His Controversial Legacy

November 12, 2012


Monday, November 12, 2012 at 4 P.M. in the Chapel of Saint Joseph

Sponsored as part of the series by SJU Learns: “Great Religious Figures Who Are Not Founders”

Moses Maimonides was a 12th-century philosopher, physician, and jurist who influenced St. Thomas Aquinas.

Rabbi Alan Iser is an Adjunct Professor at Saint Joseph’s University and Villanova University.



Relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See: 1993 to the Present

October 4, 2012


Rev. Dr. John T. Pawlikowski

Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 4 p.m.  Mandeville Hall, Room 103


After several decades of hesitation, the Vatican and State of Israel established formal diplomatic relations in 1993. In the subsequent years, there are been difficulties in fully implementing it, and from time to time various controversies have unsettled the relationship.  Fr. Pawlikowski will survey the history down to the present moment.

John T. Pawlikowski, a priest of the Servite Order, is Professor of Social Ethics at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he also directs the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program in the school’s Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Center. He is the author/editor of more than fifteen books, including The Challenge of the Holocaust for Christian Theology, Christ in the Light of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue, Jesus and the Theology of Israel, Biblical and Theological Reflections on The Challenge of PeaceThe Ecological Challenge: Ethical, Liturgical, and Spiritual Responses, Reinterpreting Revelation and Tradition: Jews and Christians in Conversation, and Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust.

Remembering from the Heart: Thoughts for Yom Hashoah 2012

April 19, 2012


Thursday, April 19, 2012; 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. 

Chapel of Saint Joseph – Michael J. Smith Memorial

Memory is a function of the mind but it is most meaningful when it also engages the heart.  This is especially true when Jews and Christians come together to reflect on and commemorate the Shoah.  Victoria Barnett will reflect on the challenges that have shaped the post-Shoah interfaith conversation since 1945 and talk about what it means to remember the Shoah today, both historically and religiously.

The presentation and discussion will be followed immediately by a prayer service of memory and commitment to interfaith amity.

Dr. Victoria Barnett, Staff Director, Committee on Church Relations, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC

Response: Rabbi Alan Iser, Adjunct Professor, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Joseph’s University