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

Why Christians Must Remember the Shoah

April 18, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 4 p.m. in the Chapel of Saint Joseph – Michael J. Smith Memorial on the Saint Joseph’s University campus.

A panel discussion with members of the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations to mark Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day). The panelists will relate why the Shoah has affected their academic concerns and activities. Their remarks, both personal and scholarly, will reflect on the importance for them of Jewish-Christian relations or of Holocaust research. The panel will be followed by a prayer service of memory and commitment to interfaith amity.

The Panel

Mary C. Boys is the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Dedicated to developing practical theologies and curricula to enhance Christian-Jewish relations, she served as co-director of the Lilly Endowment-sponsored “Religious Particularism and Pluralism” project with Jewish and Catholic educators. She edited the Christian Scholars Group’s volume, Seeing Jewish Anew: Christianity’s Sacred Obligation. She is Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a congregation of Roman Catholic women.

Katharina von Kellenbach is Professor of Religious Studies and former Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Her work in Holocaust Studies focuses on the theological, ethical, personal and political issues raised by the perpetrators of genocide. Her research examines Christian theologies of forgiveness in light of archival records of the pastoral work of prison chaplains with imprisoned Nazi perpetrators in post-war Germany.

Björn Krondorfer is Professor of Religious Studies and the Department Chair for Philosophy and Religious Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, with expertise in the Western religious traditions and particular interests in cultural studies, Holocaust studies, and gender studies. He facilitates and organizes the International Summer Program on the Holocaust and is a participating scholar of the biennial, international meetings of the Stephen Weinstein Holocaust Symposium (England).

Jean-Pierre Ruiz specializes in biblical studies and Hispanic/Latino Theology at St. John’s University, NY. Past-President of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the U.S., he is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology and an Associate Editor of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly. A Catholic priest, he helped organize Comunidades y Convivencia, a program for Latinos in ministry, co-sponsored by the American Jewish Committee and Chicago’s Bernardin Center, Catholic Theological Union, to broaden understanding of Catholic-Jewish relations and Latino-Jewish relations.

The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus

November 17, 2009

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine


Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Haub Executive Suite, McShain Hall

Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Department of Religious Studies, and Graduate Department of Religion. Holding a B.A. from Smith College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and honorary Doctorates from the University of Richmond and the Episopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, Levine has been awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has held office in the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Association for Jewish Studies. She will discuss her recent book, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, in which she explores how Christians often misunderstand Judaism in general, and the New Testament in particular, with the result that Jesus is torn out of his Jewish context. Likewise she criticizes Jews for having a willful ignorance of Jesus and his message, thereby promoting misunderstandings of their Christian neighbors.

Judaism, Christianity, and the Crucifixion: Coexistence vs. Antisemitism on Medieval Parchment

March 19, 2009

Rabbi Dr. Michael Cook

Thursday, March 19, 2009, 7:30-9:00 p.m.

Haub Executive Center, Maguire Room – 5th floor of McShain Hall

Medieval and some Renaissance art routinely showed icons of the Synagogue and the Church under the figure of Jesus on the cross, accompanied by all sorts of symbols whose powerful messages were understood then but are commonly unknown now (goats’ heads, oil lamps, staffs [broken or whole], banners, chalices, crowns, the 10 Commandments and others).  Scriptural characters, too, were often displayed either under the cross or in proximate settings (Jacob’s wives [Leah and Rachel], Mary, St. John, John the Baptist, Judas, etc.).  Properly interpreted, all these symbol-laden works of art were heavily influential on the attitudes adopted toward Jews by the Christian masses, conditioning the mind set of millions in Europe, and possibly playing some role in allowing Europe to be caught unawares by the Holocaust.

Michael Cook is Professor of Intertestamental and Early Christian Literatures, and holds the Sol and Arlene Bronstein Professorship in Judaeo-Christian Studies, HUC-JIR / Cincinnati. He studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was ordained at HUC-JIR in New York, and earned his doctorate at HUC-JIR Cincinnati. Dr. Cook’s specialty is the New Testament. He is possibly the only rabbi in the U.S. with a professorial Chair in New Testament, and has extensive expertise in the field of Jewish-Christian relations. In his latest book, Modern Jews Engage the New Testament: Enhancing Jewish Well-being in a Christian Environment, Rabbi Cook helps Jews and Christians alike to understand the issues involved in the portrayal of Jews throughout Christian history, and why for centuries the Christianity’s “good news” has been a source of fear and mistrust among Jews. His presentation will show how the medieval depictions of crucial New Testament episodes helped shape deep-seated attitudes.

Gaza: Multiple Perspectives

February 19, 2009

A Panel Discussion

Thursday, February 19, 11:30-12:45 Bellarmine, Rm. 113

The current situation in Gaza begs many questions: how did it come to this? What role does religion play in the conflict? Where do “we” (Israel; Palestine; Middle East neighbors; the community of nations) go from here? What role should the U.S. play in negotiations? What hope is there for peace in the future?  Panelists will share their perspectives on these and other questions. Ample time will be provided for audience responses and discussion.


  • Dr. Lisa Baglione Professor and Chair, Political Science Department
  • Dr. Philip Cunningham Director, Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations Professor, Theology Department
  • Rabbi Alan Iser Committee Member, Philadelphia Board of Rabbis Adjunct Professor, Theology Department
  • Dr. Isra Yazicioglu Assistant Professor, Theology Department

Moderator: Dr. Elizabeth Linehan, RSM, Professor, Philosophy Department

Sponsored by The Dean’s Office of the College of Arts & Sciences; The Theology Department; the International Relations Program; The Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations; the Teaching Institute; Students for Peace and Justice; and the FaithJustice Institute.

The Lifting of the Excommunications of Bishops Ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre

February 3, 2009

A Briefing and Panel Discussion

Tuesday, February 3, 2009 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. |  Barbelin Hall – Room 264


  • Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Carroll, Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
  • Dr. Philip A. Cunningham, Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations
  • Rabbi Alan Iser, Executive Committee, Philadelphia Board of Rabbis; adjunct instructor, SJU and Villanova

Absp Marcel LeFebvre

On January 21, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of four bishops who had been ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). These 1988 ordinations violated a papal prohibition, resulting in the excommunications of all involved. The SSPX rejects the ecumenical and interreligious outreach of the Second Vatican Council, which it believes contradicts Catholic “Tradition.”  It had requested the lifting of the excommunications, but had not renounced its rejection of the Council.

One the four bishops, Richard Williamson, gave an interview in which he denied that the Shoah (Holocaust) had resulted in the deaths of six million Jews in gas chambers. This added to the controversy over the pope’s action, which for some called into question his commitment to a vigorous implementation of the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate. Rabbinical bodies in several countries, including Israel, Germany, and Italy, have withdrawn from scheduled events with the Catholic Church.

To update the SJU community on this fast-moving story, the Institute is happy to sponsor this panel discussion to explore the controversy.

Contemporary Questions about Covenant and Conversion

January 11, 2009

Dr. Edward Kessler

Sunday, January 11, 2009, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. in  Mandeville Hall Room 103

In recent years, several controversies have beset official relations between Jews and Catholics. These include whether Catholics should pray for the conversion of Jews, whether the purpose of interreligious dialogue is to lead others to Christian faith, and whether Catholics should undertake non-coercive “missions” to Jews. An underlying theological topic in all these disputes is how the biblical concept of “covenant” is understood in the Jewish and Catholic traditions and in terms of their interrelationship. The resolution of these questions could set the pattern of official Catholic-Jewish relations for many years. In a public dialogue of these matters, Dr. Edward Kessler from Cambridge University in Great Britain and Institute director Dr. Philip A. Cunningham will present and discuss their own analyses of the present situation. Participants will be invited to join in the conversation.

Edward Kessler is a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily contemporary Judaism and Jewish-Christian as well as Jewish-Muslim Relations Relations. He is Founding Director of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths and Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. In this capacity he also serves at the executive director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations and the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Muslim Relations. He is a prolific author, having written or edited 9 books and 26 articles. He is co-editor of the monumental,  A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations. His most recent book is What do Jews Believe?

Catholic-Jewish Relations in Germany in 2008

December 9, 2008

Rev. Dr. Hanspeter Heinz

Tuesday, December 9, 2008, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Mandeville Hall, Room 107

The year 2008 has been a difficult one for relations between German Catholics and Jews. The publication by the Vatican of an “extraordinary form” of a Good Friday prayer for Jews disrupted decades of Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Germany. Customary events were boycotted. Contradictory essays were published by German cardinals about the controversy. Prof. Heinz will describe these developments, the role played by the official discussion group “Jews and Catholics,” and look ahead to the future of interreligious relations in Germany.

Hanspeter Heinz, a Catholic priest, is Professor of Pastoral Theology emeritus at the University of Augsburg in Germany. He has served for many years is the chair of the discussion group, “Jews and Catholics,” organized by the Central Committee of German Catholics (Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken). He is also co-editor of a recent book on the work of the discussion group: Coming Together for the Sake of God: Contributions to Jewish-Christian Dialogue from Post-Holocaust Germany .

Religion, Politics, and Moral Decision Making

September 10, 2008

Dr. Thomas Massaro, S.J. and Rabbi Dr. Lance Sussman

Wednesday, September 10, at 7:30 p.m., in the Haub Conference Center in McShain Hall

Rev. Massaro

Rabbi Sussman

In an election year in which “family values” are much discussed and “faith-based” constituencies of all sorts are increasingly vocal, religious leaders and preachers are forced to deal with a fundamental question: what is to be said from the pulpit during an election campaign?  To address this and other relevant issues, the Jewish-Catholic Institute of Saint Joseph’s University is sponsoring a discussion featuring Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Senior Rabbi at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, Pa., and president of the Delaware Valley Association of Reform Rabbis, and Thomas Massaro, S.J., professor of moral theology at Boston College, and the current holder of the MacLean Chair of Theology at Saint Joseph’s. Rabbi Sussman has written extensively on the history of American Judaism and its role in the public life of the U.S., and Fr. Massaro’s many publications touch on Catholic social teaching on war and peace, welfare reform and business ethics.


Israel at 60: ‘Promised Land’ for Jews and Christians

March 5, 2008

Dr. Eugene Fisher and Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn


Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 7:30 p.m. in the Haub Conference Center in McShain Hall.

For many, the State of Israel stands at the center of how the Jewish people perceive themselves – both as individuals and as a collective group. Saint Joseph’s University’s Jewish-Catholic Institute will host an interfaith dialogue to explore Jewish identity with the Biblical promised land. The evening’s speakers are Rabbi Eugene Korn, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University, and Eugene J. Fisher, Ph.D., associate director emeritus of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in charge of Catholic-Jewish relations.

The idea for the programming came from the Israeli Consulate General’s Office in Philadelphia, who contacted Donald Clifford, S.J., director of the Jewish-Catholic Institute, to suggest cooperating in a program that would commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. “The issues raised by this interreligious dialogue take on special resonance this year, which is the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel,” said Fr. Clifford. “Both of our speakers possess a unique understanding of the common spiritual heritage between Christianity and Judaism. The discussion will focus on how the existence of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their homeland can be viewed as a strengthening of Christian sacred history and the Jewish covenant on which the Christian faith rests.

Dr. Fisher


Dr. Fisher is considered the dean of Catholic scholars now active in the field of Jewish-Christian relations. In 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed him consultor to the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. He has represented the Holy See at numerous international conferences over the last 30 years.


Eugene Korn

Rabbi Korn has written widely on Israel, Jewish thought and interfaith relations. Most recently, he is the author of The Jewish Connection to Israel, the Promised Land – A Brief Introduction for Christians. He was previously director of Interfaith Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress.



Traveling Together Down an Unfamiliar Road: Catholic-Jewish Relations in the United States Today

October 14, 2007

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham

Dr. Cunningham is the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Learning at Boston College.