These pages list past Institute programs and its directors' presentations elsewhere. Items marked "video available" can be streamed from this website by clicking on "Videos" in the top navigation bar above.

The People Israel, Christianity and the Covenantal Responsibility to History

February 22, 2011

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 4 p.m. | Mandeville Hall Room 103

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the North American Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. Ordained by the Israeli Rabbinate and with a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University, he has dedicated his professional career in the area of Jewish-Christian relations and Jewish ethics & law. He served as the Executive Director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University, and was the Director of Interfaith Affairs for both the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress. His vocation within the field of Jewish ethics and law led him to serve as the Judaic Scholar at the JCC and Federation of MetroWest (NJ) and the Director of Leadership Education and Development at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem. He also has taught at Yeshiva and Columbia Universities.

Rabbi Korn will discuss these important questions for a theology of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity: How can Jewish theology understand Christianity in covenantal terms? Are there authentic grounds for a new theological relationship in which Jews see Christians as participating in a common covenant with them? If so, what are the boundaries of this commonality?

Responses will be offered by:

Rabbi Richard Hirsh is the Executive Director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and Adjunct Instructor of Jewish Thought at Reconstructionist Rabbincal College. His commentaries appear in the new Reconstructionist High Holiday makhzor and in A Night of Questions, the Reconstructionist haggadah. He is the author of A Guide to Jewish Practice: The Journey of Mourning and A Guide to Jewish Practice: Welcoming Children. He has authored more than 100 articles, essays and Torah commentaries.

Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University and a Vice-President of the International Council of Christians and Jews. He is among the editors of Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships, forthcoming in March from William B. Eerdmans Publishing and Gregorian & Biblical Press.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

February 22, 2011

How Its Complexities Obstruct Jewish-Christian Understanding

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am – 12:45 pm
Bellarmine Hall – Room 003


In December 2009, a group of about fifteen Palestinian Christians issued a statement called: “Kairos Palestine — A Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” It was addressed to Palestinian churches and leaders, to “Palestinian society and to the Israeli society, to the international community, and to our Christian brothers and sisters in churches around the world.” Kairos Palestine declared that “the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity,” saw dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims as a “sign of hope,” called for “a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel,” and insisted that the “cycle of violence” could be broken only “through our love, [which] will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents.”

Reactions to the statement were predictable: to generalize (and there are always exceptions), evangelical Christian and mainstream Jewish voices criticized or dismissed it while mainline Protestant and left-wing Jewish voices embraced or grappled with it.  The International Council of Christians and Jews became alarmed at a perceived unprecedented amount polarization and polemic erupting in Christian-Jewish dialogues. It, in turn, issued in July 2010 a “plea to all who seek interreligious understanding” entitled, “Let Us Have Mercy upon Words.”

The Panel

The Institute for Jewish-Christian Relations has organized this panel to acquaint the SJU community with some of these issues.  It will point to some of the historical and political complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the impact of that conflict on the efforts of Jews and Christians around the world to achieve mutual understanding, and suggest factors that must be considered if peace is to come to this seemingly intractable and dire situation.   

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the North American Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, New York and Israel.



 Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit is Director of the Institute for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.



Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of SJU.

Doing Theology in the Context of the Gift and the Promise of Nostra Aetate

October 27, 2010

Dr. Terrance Tilley

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | 4:30 p.m. | Campion Banquet Hall North

The Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations will hold its 9th annual meeting at Saint Joseph’s University on October 27-28, 2010, hosted by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations. The meeting will coincide with the forty-fifth anniversary of the groundbreaking Second Vatican Council document, Nostra Aetate.

The keynote address will be offered by Dr. Terrence Tilley, the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology and Chair of the Theology Department at Fordham University in New York.  He is also a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Dr. Tilley’s presentation, “Doing Theology in the Context of the Gift and the Promise of Nostra Aetate,” will consider the development of Christian theologies that are non-supersessionist with respect to Judaism.

Brief responses will be offered by three contributors to a forthcoming book addressing a similar topic, entitled Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships. The respondents are: Philip A. Cunningham (Saint Joseph’s University), Edward Kessler (Cambridge University), and Barbara Meyer (Hebrew University and Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem).

Please join us for this important anniversary discussion!

Living in Covenant with God

September 28, 2010

The Christian’s Call to Priestly, Prophetic, and Kingly Life; The Jew’s Call to a Life of Torah

Aldegonde Brenninkmeijer-Werhahn and Rabbi Alan Iser

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

Saint Joseph’s University –  Haub Executive Center – McShain Hall

Every day, Jews and Catholics seek to live out their respective covenantal relationships with God in various ways. In this evening’s conversation Aldegonde Brenninkmeijer-Werhahn will present one Catholic approach to the daily living of the Christian faith in terms of the priestly, prophetic, and kingly callings imparted by baptism, and Rabbi Alan Iser will discuss the daily living of Judaism according to various approaches to the Torah. Following their presentations, participants will compare and discuss the ideas that have been raised.

Aldegonde Brenninkmeijer-Werhahn, a resident of Brussels, Belgium, is the Director of INTAMS, the International Academy for Marital Spirituality, which she co-founded in 1989 with her husband, Hubert. Having studied social sciences (Institute for Social Sciences, Dortmund, Germany) and theology (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), she is the author of numerous articles on married spirituality. Intensely committed to Catholic-Jewish relations, her presentation will bring her work on married spirituality into the Catholic dialogue with Judaism.

Rabbi Alan Iser is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Theology at Saint Joseph’s University and Villanova University. He is a doctoral candidate in rabbinic literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he also received his rabbinic ordination. He also holds a M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University and was formerly a congregational rabbi and a Hillel director.

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

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

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?