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Nostra Aetate Resources
2010 Friends of the Center Appeal

May 2010

Dear CCJS Friends and E-Letter Readers,

The crises of the past several weeks have reminded us once again of the challenges we will continue to face as Catholics and Jews committed to interfaith dialogue.  During times like these we can seek both counsel and comfort reflecting on the wisdom of leaders in our dialogue.  For example, the writings of Rabbi Michael Signer, of Blessed Memory (see links below in the Nostra Aetate Resource section), remind us of the difficult journey our dialogue has survived.  Hope for the future is the message of Archbishop Timothy Dolan's April 22nd address at the Park East Synagogue in New York City (see News Updates and Links below).  However, perhaps the most important resources available to us during these difficult times can be found in our local interfaith events.  Note the many Yom Hashoah commemorations (see the Diocese of Venice, and Tampa's Congregations Rodeph Sholom and Schaarai Zedek events described below) which bear witness to the deep commitment, respect, and affection characterizing Catholic and Jewish dialogue in our own CCJS communities.  On May 6th in Tampa CCJS is privileged to  host a Lunch and Learn interfaith education and dialogue event featuring Rome journalist, Lisa Palmieri-Billig (see below), the American Jewish Committee's representative in Italy and Liaison to the Holy See.  Her decades of experience witnessing the challenges of Catholic-Jewish relations will contribute greatly to our audience's understanding of the current crises we face, as well as give us reasons to have faith in its future.  As our CCJS programming year and our Saint Leo University academic year come to a close, we express our gratitude to you, our CCJS friends and supporters, for your continuing commitment to assist us in our mission to "build mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation among Jews, Catholics, and all people of good will by providing opportunities for interfaith education and dialogue."
Blessings and Shalom, 
Linda Taggart
Linda Taggart, M.A., Director and Adjunct Professor of
Theology and Religion, Saint Leo University


Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue

Deadline for registration extended to May, 3, 2010.  Register online at or send your check to CCJS at Saint Leo University, PO Box 6665, MC 2460, Saint Leo, FL 33574.


For details call CCJS 352-588-8597 or contact Linda Taggart


Ms Lisa Palmieri-Billig
Lisa Billig 
This lively interfaith education and dialogue program will begin with a presentation by Rome journalist, Lisa Palmieri-Billig, American Jewish Committee's (AJC) representative in Italy, Liaison to the Vatican's Holy See, and Rome and Vatican correspondent for The Jerusalem Post.  Following a delicious lunch, a panel of local religion writers and media experts will join Lisa to discuss current challenges for those who work the media's "God Beat," as well as those in the community who rely upon their reporting.  Seating is limited. We have a few seats remaining.  Please register by May 3rd. Cost: $35.00 (includes lunch).  A portion of the proceeds will support CCJS interfaith education and dialogue programming in our community.  

FL Holocaust Museum LogoAttention Educators: The Florida Holocaust Museum announces the 2010 Sam Gross Summer Institute on the Holocaust.  The 2010 program, "History of the Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Studies," is scheduled for June 14-18, 2010.  Any educator may apply.  Spaces are limited. Applicants are chosen by a selection committee.  Application deadline for the 2010 session is May 3, 2010. Read more here.
Tampa's Congregation Schaarai Zedek and Rabbi Richard Birnholz will host Rabbi Jack Bemporad on Friday, May 14, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Bemporad will speak on "Jewish-Catholic Relations from Pope John Paul II through Pope Benedict XVI" and "Treating the Church with Fairness."  For information and to RSVP please call 813-876-2377.


  Rabbi Bemporade.
Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue
Rabbi Richard Birnholz, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Schaarai Zedek, the Bay area's largest and oldest synagogue, welcomes Rabbi Jack Bemporad, Professor of Interreligious Studies at the Vatican's Angelicum University in Rome, for a presentation at the synagogue on Friday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m.  Rabbi Bemporad is Schaarai Zedek's 2010 Meyer and Gretchen Kotler Lecture Scholar.  Rabbi served as chair of the Interreligious Affairs Committee of the Synagogue Council of America where he has represented American rabbinical and lay bodies at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican. Rabbi is director of the nonprofit Center for Interreligious Understanding.  In his May 14th lecture titled "Jewish-Catholic Relations from Pope John Paul II through Pope Benedict XVI," Rabbi Bemporad will touch on healing, on theological and political differences between the popes, on the changing papal views on Israel, and on ways we can strengthen the relationship between the two faiths.  Please contact the Schaarai Zedek offices to RSVP or for more information, 813-876-2377.




Ecumenism and Interreligious DialogueVenice Diocese hosted the 2010 Yom Hashoah Memorial Service, April 25, 2010, 2:30 p.m., at the Epiphany Cathedral.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice welcomed more than 550 people to the Epiphany Cathedral for the "Hour of Remembrance: an Interreligious Service Commemorating Yom Hashoah." CCJS board member, Deacon Pat Macaulay of the Diocese of Venice, shared the following report from the Florida Catholic:


Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue 

  • Remembering those who suffered and those who died in the Holocaust is not enough. Unless people start to take the threat that another Holocaust is possible then it could become a reality again.

    This was the powerful theme of the annual Yom Hashoah - An Hour of Remembrance, an interreligious service April 25 at Epiphany Cathedral Parish which included more than 550 people.

    Keynote speaker Father Dennis McManus, who was recently appointed theologian to Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Moderator of Jewish Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and who has been involved in interreligious dialogue for more than 35 years, sounded a warning that unless people start thinking of the Holocaust as something that was not an isolated time in world history then it will prevent people from seeing the real danger of the Holocaust happening again.  Read more


  • From Tampa Congregation Rodeph Sholom:  CCJS friend and former board member, Maureen Cohn, is pictured in this April 15, 2010 Tampa Tribune article describing the debut of Rodeph Sholom Cantor Moshe Friedler's film and music.  A CD-ROM of Cantor Friedler's original compositions is available for purchase.  For more information and to order a copy of Cantor Friedler's CD, please contact the Rodeph Sholom office (813) 837-1911.

Cantor Moshe Friedler 

"Rodeph Sholom Cantor Debuts Holocaust Film, Music," by Michelle Bearden - The Tampa Tribune

Published: April 15, 2010

Some projects just take a little more time than others.  Cantor Moshe Friedler's most recent endeavor took about 15 years from conception to completion.

"Like the birth of a baby, only a lot longer," he says, laughing.

Friedler, of Congregation Rodeph Sholom, will debut his "Songs of Despair and Hope" at 7 p.m. Sunday at his synagogue.

Instead of a concert, this multimedia production is a 45-minute film he produced on his new Apple computer. It includes 12 original songs he wrote, all inspired by Elie Wiesel's book, "One Generation After," set to a film montage of Holocaust images.

Read more here.



Dolan, TimothyArchbishop Timothy Dolan joined Rabbi Schneier and the congregation of New York City's Park East Synagogue to dedicate a plaque commemorating the 2008 visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The following includes an excerpt from Archbishop Dolan's Blog describing the event, and a link to his remarks titled, "Catholic-Jewish Relations in America: A Modest Proposal."


Archbishop Timothy Dolan's Blog April 23, 2010: A Visit to Park East Synagogue


Last night I had the privilege of visiting Park East Synagogue in New York to assist in the unveiling of a plaque honoring the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Park East Synagogue during his 2008 visit to New York.  It was the first time any pope had visited a synagogue in this country.  My good friend, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, and I then addressed the 400 or so guests who were present at the Synagogue.  I thought you might want to read my brief remarks.


[We have selected an excerpt from the section titled, "Catholic-Jewish Relations Today:"]


On the occasion of the Pope's visit to the great synagogue of Rome, three important points emerged - no matter our missteps from time to time -- as an affirmation of the present state of our relations: 

First, our visits with each other, begun under the gracious and reconciling initiative of Pope John Paul II, are evidence of a commitment to bettering our relationship as a religious duty to which we are mutually obliged. The good will we share has over and again provided us with the resilience often needed to work our way through whatever difficulties arise on the journey we share, as they have and will. Our strength in this effort comes from God, who prompts our hearts to undertake this task and who never fails to nurture what he inspires in us.

Secondly, we note that papal visits to various synagogues and my visit with you today are signs of friendship between our communities as hoped for in Nostra Aetate. There, we find something of a blueprint for our future: the vision of what can and must be reconciled between us, along with the friendship it promises. Our visits with each other, especially in holy places, reaffirm and recommit us to pursuing that same friendship as we embrace each other in the great peace of God, who is Creator and Ruler of all.

Finally, be assured that this tradition of invitation and visitation, of welcome and of hospitality offered and accepted, is intended to put to rest the notion that the Church's renewal of her relationship with the Jewish people is not an authentic or irreversible part of her life. On the contrary, the decisions of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to visit with their Jewish brothers and sisters, most especially in Israel as a full diplomatic partner of the Holy See, is a direct affirmation of all that Nostra Aetate challenges the Church to realize in herself. This deepening friendship is not just a nice idea, a hobby, or a quirk of any one pope or rabbi, but an essential of our common faith. As a result, Christians and Jews everywhere should be able to see our own Rabbi Schneier and Pope Benedict as examples of how those who love God must work together to heal a past where before there was little but conflict and misunderstanding. May God strengthen and bring to perfection in each of us all that he has begun!

Read more here.



This month we are featuring the important work of Rabbi Michael Signer of Blessed Memory.  Rabbi Signer honored CCJS and Saint Leo University as a presenter at the February 2000 CCJS Campus Conference, "The Evolution of Catholic-Jewish Relations During the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II." Please read his 2005 essay:

"Nostra Aetate after 40 Years: A Decisive Change" By Michael A. Signer, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame.
Introduction: One of the easiest ways to assess the difference in relations between Christians and Jews in the forty years since 1965 is to examine a library catalogue. The number of books devoted to the historical, theological and philosophical dimensions of our relationship grows larger every year. Beyond the printed pages there are human encounters which encourage exploration of our religious traditions. There are dozens of symposia and many research centers that focus on the past, present and future of this relationship. If someone were to investigate this topic prior to 1965 they would discover only a few Jewish authors who explored the Christian tradition and even less Christian authors who examined Judaism with a measure of empathy.
Read more here.

Remembering Rabbi Michael Signer
Rabbi SignerBy Richard McBrien
Created Feb 09, 2009

Rabbi Michael Signer died on Jan. 10 at age 63. His name was, and remains, well known and widely respected in Jewish circles and among those active in the Jewish-Catholic dialogue, but he did not enjoy the same celebrity status as that of Cardinal Avery Dulles, another recently deceased theologian.
Michael Signer joined the Theology faculty at the University of Notre Dame in 1992 as the first Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture. It was one of my final achievements as chair of the department to have brought Michael to Notre Dame from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, where he had served as Professor of Jewish History from 1974 to 1991.  


Read more here. 

Please visit the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations website where you will find a moving tribute to Rabbi Michael Signer who contributed so much to advancing and preserving the legacy of Nostra Aetate

Michael Signer was the author and editor of five books on topics that range from Medieval Latin biblical commentaries to contemporary Jewish-Christian relations, and was one of the four authors of the historic statement, Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity.  Michael Signer was among the founders of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, and delivered an important paper on Dabru Emet at its first annual meeting on October 28, 2002.


Read more here.


This month CCJS is also highlighting the following newly released text, "An Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations" (Cambridge University 2010), by Edward Kessler, Founder and Executive Director of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths and Fellow of St. Edmund's College at Cambridge University: 

Kessler Intro to Jewish-Christian Relations"Relations between Christians and Jews over the past two thousand years have been characterized to a great extent by mutual distrust and by Christian discrimination and violence against Jews. In recent decades, however, a new spirit of dialogue has been emerging, beginning with an awakening among Christians of the Jewish origins of Christianity, and encouraging scholars of both traditions to work together. An Introduction to Jewish-Christian relations sheds fresh light on this ongoing interfaith encounter, exploring key writings and themes in Jewish-Christian history, from the Jewish context of the New Testament to major events of modern times, including the rise of ecumenism, the horrors of the Holocaust, and the creation of the state of Israel. This accessible theological and historical study also touches on numerous related areas such as Jewish and interfaith studies, philosophy, sociology, cultural studies, international relations and the political sciences"--Provided by publisher.

Read more here.



Mark your calendars for our Saint Leo University and CCJS Campus Conference:  "Nostra Aetate (In Our Time) at 45: Remember, Reflect, Renew," Thursday, October 28, 2010. Explore the importance of Vatican II for interfaith education and dialogue. Stay tuned for details to be posted on the CCJS website or contact Linda S. Taggart, CCJS Director, at
Ecumenism and Interreligious DialogueRabbi A. James Rudin
This timely interfaith education and dialogue conference focusing on the legacy of Nostra Aetate will be heldon the campus of Saint Leo University in the new Student Community Center on Thursday, October 28, 2010. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with conference presentations from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Continental breakfast and lunch are included.  CEU credits will be offered.  Cost: $25.  Conference Chairs: Rabbi A. James Rudin and Shelia McDevitt, Esq. Academic Chair: Reverend Dr. William Ditewig, Director, Master of Arts in Theology, Saint Leo University.


CCJS relies upon your gifts to continue this important work serving clergy, congregations, classrooms (teachers and students at all levels), and the community at large.  Please consider enrolling as a 2010 Friend of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies.

The Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies is a non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, Federal ID# 31-1798703.
Gifts are tax-deductible and, a receipt letter will be send to donors for retention with a donor's tax records.
As a "Friend of the Center" you will receive:

  1. Monthly e-letters containing current and planned activities along with news and commentary.
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  3. Invitations to conferences, visiting scholar lectures, and other special events.



Please see our Web Page for more information about the work and activities of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies and our collaborating partners, Saint Leo University and The American Jewish Committee, as well as our many friends.

"A Dynamic Partnership Between Jews and Catholics..."