In This Issue
Understanding Advent and Christmas
Understanding Hanukkah
Nostra Aetate Resources
Theology in Rabbinic Stories Event
Remember CCJS in Your Holiday Gift List

December 2009

Dear CCJS Friends and E-Letter Readers,  

Early Christmas and Hanukkah Greetings to our many CCJS Friends and E-Letter subscribers!!  I join with our wonderful CCJS staff members, Jane Bracken and Thomas Poynor, to wish each of you and your families a happy and holy holiday season. 
In this December 2009 E-Letter we will update you regarding recent CCJS activities serving clergy, congregations, classrooms, and the community at large in both in Florida, and through our expanding website community. Below, you will find updates on news items of interest in Catholic-Jewish relations, as well as our continuing series providing information and resources on the history and legacy of Nostra Aetate.
To help us all better prepare for the holy days ahead, we are providing useful links that address the Catholic observance of Advent and Christmas, and the Jewish observance of Hanukkah. This time of year offers both of our communities the opportunity to grow in knowledge and respect for one another's religious history and practices-what we share and how we differ. We thank Dr. Philip A. Cunningham, Professor of Catholic-Jewish Relations and director of the Jewish-Catholic Institute of Saint Joseph's University, and our own Rabbi A. James Rudin for their contributions to this section.
Finally, we want to send a special thank you to the many new CCJS Friends who have responded to our monthly E-Letters, including students, priests, deacons, rabbis, and teachers from as far away as Canada, Minnesota, New Jersey, and California.  We appreciate your encouragement and suggestions.  CCJS relies upon the generosity of our Friends and supporters to continue serving our mission "building mutual respect, understanding and appreciation among Jews, Christians, and all people of good will by providing opportunities for interfaith education and dialogue."
We at the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University wish everyone a blessed holy days season and all happiness for the New Year.
Linda S. Taggart, M.A.
Director and Adjunct Professor of Theology and Religion


  • CCJS was represented at the November 2009 Annual Meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR) hosted this year by Dr. Alan Berger and the Center for the Study of Values and Violence after Auschwitz at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida.  Linda Taggart and CCJS board member, Michael Murphy, were privileged to represent CCJS at the CCJR annual meeting, a collegial and educational gathering for the leadership of the Council's member organizations. Dr. Alan Berger (FAU), Dr. George Gilmore (Spring Hill College), and Linda Taggart were the featured speakers on the panel discussion titled, "The View From Here: Christian-Jewish Relations in the Gulf States."  


  • CCJS Tampa Partnership Program:  CCJS's Linda Taggart and the Franciscan Center Scholars Forum presented a lunch and learn lecture program titled, "Sacred Stories, Holy Books: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."  The weekday program attracted more than 40 participants from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths for the introductory lecture and discussion.  Hosted by Sister Cathy Cahill, O.S.F., Franciscan Center Director and past member of the CCJS board of directors, participants enjoyed an intensive study session and a delicious lunch at the serene riverfront retreat just minutes from bustling downtown Tampa.  Participants have already requested a follow-up session now scheduled at the Franciscan Center on January, 13, 2010. 

Taggart at Franciscan Center Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue







  • Rabbi A. James Rudin, CCJS founder and board member, presented two lectures in Massachusetts at Gordon College's symposium, "Exploring the Psalms with the Rabbis." Rabbi Rudin was among four esteemed scholars included in the two day conference organized by Professor Marvin R. Wilson, author of "Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith" (Eerdmans 1989).  Rabbi Rudin concluded Gordon College's lecture series with his talk, "Psalms in the Collective Experience of the Jewish People." Rabbi Rudin has been a colleague of Dr. Wilson's for many years and has coordinated four national conferences for Evangelicals and Jews, two of which were held at Gordon College. Rabbi Rudin also presented a lecture on "Christian-Jewish Relations in America: Forty Years in Retrospect."  Link here 

  • USCCB: WASHINGTON - Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been named Moderator of Jewish Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops succeeding Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop-emeritus of Baltimore, in that role.  An excerpt follows:

Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue

Cardinal Francis George, USCCB president, made the appointment, which is effective November 11, and is for five years. In announcing the appointment, Cardinal George noted the New York Archdiocese's "long history of cooperation and friendship between Catholics and Jews." "Since the Second Vatican Council, important strides in this relationship have been made through dialogue and collaboration in countering racism, anti-Semitism and other offenses against human dignity," Cardinal George said in the letter of appointment. "Our Episcopal Conference, through the leadership of your predecessors in New York, and especially through the tireless and generous service of Cardinal William Keeler, has sought to contribute to the work of reconciliation between the Church and the Jewish people after centuries of mutual estrangement. While we look back with gratitude on nearly a half century of progress in these efforts at healing and renewal, we also know that important and pressing challenges lie ahead for us."

Link here


The liturgical year for Catholics began on Sunday, November 29, 2009, the First Sunday of Advent (ad-venio in Latin or "to come").  Advent is not a time of shopping and celebration, but rather a time of preparation for and reflection on the many meanings of Christmas for Christians. We recommend the following link to Dr. Philip A. Cunningham's online mini-course, "The Birth of Jesus: Two Gospel Narratives."


Link here
Additionally, because of the shared Scripture readings included in the Advent liturgies, the Advent period presents challenges in the context of Catholic-Jewish understanding. How are Christians to understand and interpret their Old Testament readings during Advent in light of the revelation of Christ?  Dr. Cunningham recommends consulting the following document for guidance:  "God's Mercy Endures Forever: Guidelines on the Presentation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic Preaching," written by the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, Sunday, September 18, 1988. 


Link here 


A brief excerpt follows: 
Advent: The Relationship between the Scriptures

9. As Catholic homilists know, the liturgical year presents both opportunities and challenges. One can show the parallels between the Jewish and Catholic liturgical cycles. And one can, with clarity, confront misinterpretations of the meaning of the lectionary readings, which have been too familiar in the past. Specifically, homilists can guide people away from a triumphalism that would equate the pilgrim Church with the Reign of God, which is the Church's mission to herald and proclaim. Likewise, homilists can confront the unconscious transmission of anti-Judaism through clichés that derive from an unhistorical overgeneralization of the self-critical aspects of the story of Israel as told in the Scriptures (e.g., "hardheartedness" of the Jews, 'blindness," "legalism," "materialism," "rejection of Jesus," etc.). From Advent through Passover/Easter, to Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, the Catholic and Jewish liturgical cycles spiral around one another in a stately progression of challenges to God's people to repent, to remain faithful to God's call, and to prepare the world for the coming of God's Reign. While each is distinct and unique, they are related to one another. Christianity is engrafted on and continues to draw sustenance from the common root, biblical Israel (Rom 11:13-24).


For the Jewish community, Hanukkah will begin at sundown on Friday, December 11, 2009.  We recommend that you click on the following link to the America Magazine website and read Rabbi Rudin's 2006 article, "Festival of Lights."  In this detailed and insightful article, Rabbi Rudin shares the wonderful history of the Hanukkah tradition, including an interesting connection to the Roman Catholic bible.


Link here 


In our continuing effort to provide respected and reliable education and dialogue resources related to the history and legacy of Nostra Aetate, we recommend the following document:  

Nostra Aetate Lecture at Fordham University, November 5, 2009

Two of New York's most respected spiritual leaders joined hands on Nov. 5 at Fordham University, calling for an active intra-religious agenda to combat the world's ills and to strengthen young adults' engagement with their faiths.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the leader of Archdiocese of New York City, and Arnold M. Eisen, Ph.D., seventh chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, acknowledged a secular crisis that sees generations of faithful teenagers and young adults in America drifting away from the religions of their birth.

Link here  
"Salvation from the Jewish Jesus of Nazareth," Rev. Norbert Hofmann, S.D.B., Secretary, Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, L'Osservatore Romano (21 March 2007). 


Link here

SAVE THE DATETheology in Rabbinic Stories

Theology in Rabbinic Stories:
Jewish and Christian Perspectives

Thursday, February 4, 2010

7 p.m.
Cannon Memorial Library


Saint Leo University's Cannon Memorial Library, the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, and the Master of Theology program have partnered to present a lively interfaith lecture and book discussion focusing on Rabbi Chaim Pearl's popular text, Theology in Rabbinic Stories (Hendrickson, 1997). Students, faculty, staff and the general public are welcome to attend.  The program will begin promptly at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 4, 2010, in the Cannon Memorial Library Browsing Area overlooking beautiful Lake Jovita. We will also celebrate a generous donation of the Babylonian Talmud (Neusner, Scholars Press) to the Cannon Memorial Library.  Light refreshments will be served.
Presenters include Tampa's Rabbi Frank Sundheim-rabbinic scholar and guest lecturer at Saint Leo University, USF, and the University of Tampa-and Saint Leo University's own Deacon Dr. William Ditewig, Catholic theologian and director of Saint Leo University's Master of Theology program.  Linda S. Taggart, director of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University will serve as moderator for the session.
Theology in Rabbinic Stories is highly recommended for use in interfaith education and dialogue programs. 
"Christians and Jews can profit immensely from this delightful book of assorted theological vignettes....Pearl's Christian readership will have a deeper appreciation of the Jewish roots of Christianity and the impact that Jewish studies can have on the thought and life of today's church. I highly recommend this book for those who want to deepen their understanding of the biblical text." Dr. Marvin Wilson, author of Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1989).
For details regarding publication link here.
For more information, please contact Brent Short, Director of Library Services, at 352-588-8260 or email him at, or contact Carol Ann Moon, Reference and Instructional Outreach Librarian, at 352-588-8261 or email her at 


We have received many notes    recently encouraging our work at     CCJS, and especially the expansion of our website resources.  CCJS relies upon your gifts to continue this important work.  Please consider a holiday gift to the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies this year.

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.
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  4. Invitations to 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.