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

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.

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.