"A Dynamic Partnership Between Jews and Catholics..."
A collaboration of the American Jewish Committee & Saint Leo University
The Center for Catholic Jewish Studies “ building mutual respect, understanding, and appreciation between Jews, Catholics, and all people of good will by providing opportunities for interfaith education and dialogue.”
“As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world. This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to each other.” Pope John Paul II, April 21, 1993
Because of our university roots as well as our outreach to Catholic and Jewish laity and clergy of all ages, including high school and university students, the Center's Mission promotes education and dialogue through:
Saint Leo University and the American Jewish Committee have undertaken a project for a collaborative partnership between Jews and Catholics. The Center was established at Saint Leo University in 1998 through a formal Memorandum of Agreement between the University and the American Jewish Committee. The Center concentrates its efforts to promote interfaith dialogue on contemporary problems and to address historical conflicts, as well as to educate the communities on the philosophical and theological understandings of the two faiths and their impact on modern society.
The Center is open to all members of the community, and each year chooses a topic for its annual conference that seeks to promote greater understanding between the two faiths. The year 1999 celebrated the founding of the Center. Along with Rabbi James Rudin of the AJC, Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Bishop John J. Nevins of the Diocese of Venice, and Dr. Arthur F. Kirk Jr President of Saint Leo University, the founders included leading members of the West Florida communities like John Sykes, CEO of Sykes Industries; Thomas V. Draude, Senior Regional Vice President of USAA; Thomas Buckridge, Senior Director of Global Operations and Delivery for Citicorp Travel Payment Services; Carol Siegler, President of the West Coast Florida Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and a member of its national board; Mark Mahaffey, President of the Mahaffey Co.; the late Dr. Ben Sischy, M.D., immediate past president of the American Jewish Committee, West Coast Florida Chapter, as well as many others.
The objectives of the Center are to educate the public on issues germane to both religions and to foster intellectual discussion, as seen from both points of view. Together in the spirit of the Hebrew Tikkun Olam [trying to repair/improve the world], the Center models and promotes tolerance, justice, and compassion in a world so torn by strife and prejudice among religions and nations only intensified by the events of September 11. These objectives are met through conferences, town hall meetings, interreligous dialogue, and gatherings of young Jews and Catholics sharing their faith together.
The Eternal Light Award
Each year the Eternal Light Award is presented to an individual who has exhibited outstanding contribution in the cause of interfaith relations and human rights.
In a world increasingly full of prejudice, intolerance and discrimination, it is all the more important that religious communities model the opposite, that is, the real possibility of tolerance and mutuality and common commitment to heal the wounds of our human family.
Because our Jewish and Catholic communities play such a prominent role in the life and culture of both Florida and our nation as a whole, we as the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies are committed to commending and celebrating the heroic efforts of the members of our community to engage in this sacred task of promoting interfaith dialog in a spirit of tolerance and mutual appreciation as we work together to foster human rights wherever we can.
- JAN KARSKI
He stood as he always stood, courageously, on the side of honor, valor and decency. He joined the underground where he carried out secret missions as a courier between occupied Poland and the Polish Government in Exile in London. Having escaped both Soviet and Gestapo prisons, he personally reported to four members of the British War Cabinet, including Foreign Minister Anthony Eden. He met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, Henry Stimson and other high government and civic leaders in the U.S.A. to relate the atrocities taking place in Europe. He was committed to the battle against the indifference that left an indelible stain on that era. Jan Karski received his Ph.D. at Georgetown University in 1952, became an American citizen in 1954, and taught European Affairs, comparative government and international affairs at Georgetown. He has traveled extensively giving lectures and testifying on European affairs. He has written of his war experiences in numerous articles and in his well received bios “Story of a Secret State”.
Jan Karski risked his life and bared his soul to save Jews. He has brought honor to his country, his people and his Church. His indomitable spirit and his passion to speak and teach the truth have not diminished over the years.
- REV. JOHN T. PAWLIKOWSKI, O.S.M., Ph.D.
- RABBI IRVING GREENBERG
An ordained Orthodox rabbi, a Harvard Ph.D. and scholar, Rabbi Greenberg has been a seminal thinker in confronting the Holocaust a historical transforming event and Israel as the Jewish assumption of power and the beginning of a third era in Jewish history. Rabbi Greenberg has published numerous articles and monographs on Jewish thought and religion including The Jewish Way; Living the Holidays (1998), a philosophy of Judaism based on an analysis of the Sabbath and holidays and Living in the Image of God: Jewish Teachings to the Perfect World (1998).
From 1974 through 1997, he served as a founding president of CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a pioneering institution in the development of adult and leadership education in the Jewish community and the leading organization in intra-Jewish dialogue and the work of Jewish unity. Before CLAL was founded, he served as rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center, associate professor of history at Yeshiva University and as founder, chairman and professor in the Department of Jewish Studies of City College at City University in New York.
- DEBORAH LIPSTADT, PH.D.
Professor Lipstadt is frequently called upon by the media to analyze matters of contemporary and Jewish interest. She has appeared on CNN, CBS’s Sixty Minutes, NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, National Public Radio and is a frequent contributor and widely quoted in a variety of newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Constitution, New York Times, Time, and Newsweek.
Rabbi James Rudin summed up Deborah Lipstadt’s contributions to Catholic-Jewish dialogue: “Her legal victories in a London courtroom have permanently exposed all the Holocaust deniers for what they truly are—pernicious liars, anti-Semites, and enemies of truth. Because of her remarkable academic achievements and her courage to legally take on one of the world’s worst Holocaust deniers, Professor Lipstadt has provided both Jews and Christians a shining example of superb scholarship and moral strength. Interreligious dialogue stands immeasurably strengthened because of her historic efforts and her willingness to be a personal beacon of truth and justice.”
- MOST REVEREND JOHN J. NEVINS, D.D.
He was ordained to priesthood on June 6, 1959 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, and served the Archdiocese of Miami in many capacities for almost 25 years.
Following an appointment by Pope John Paul II, he was ordained Titular Bishop of Rusticiana and Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Miami in 1979. Bishop Nevins was then appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in 1984 and was installed by Archbishop Pio Laghi in Epiphany Cathedral.
Bishop Nevins has overseen the growth of the Catholic population in his 10-county Diocese from Approximately 115,000 to more than 200,000 registered parishioners. In an effort to better meet the spiritual needs of this burgeoning Catholic population, Bishop Nevins has added 15 parishes to the original 39, increased the number of chapels and missions to 13, and established a new elementary school and a school for pastoral ministry. Under his Motto “To Serve With Mercy,” Bishop Nevins has responded to changing societal needs by instituting many diocesan ministries including those to migrant farm workers, unwed mothers, refugees, and people with HIV/AIDS.
Bishop Nevins is a member of the Catholic Committee of the South and the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Committee of the National Council of Catholic Bishops; secretary of the Florida Catholic Conference and chair of its Pro-Life Coordinating Committee; a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary; and a board member of St. John Vianney Seminary, The Florida Catholic Newspaper, and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
- RABBI SANFORD E. SAPERSTEIN, D.D.
Inspired by Amos and the prophets, Rabbi Saperstein became deeply involved in the civil rights struggle while serving as Director of Hillel at the University of Georgia in the 1940’s, and later at the University of Illinois-Champain-Urbanna. While in Pontiac, Michigan, Rabbi Saperstein traveled around the state in African-American, Baptist, and Greek Orthodox clergy promoting unity. From 1988 to 1995, Rabbi Saperstein served as Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Am in Merrick, Long Island, during which time he facilitated Catholic, Jewish, and Episcopalian congregations involvement in educational and fellowship opportunities. And finally, Rabbi Saperstein considers his involvement in the founding of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies to be “one of the most precious things in my entire life.”
In addition to his rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Saperstein holds the following degrees: M.S.W., Adelphi University; M.A., In Family Life Education and Counseling from Teachers College, Columbia University; B.A., Cornell University: D.D., Honoris Causa from Jewish Institute of Religion-Hebrew Union College; M.A., In Hebrew Literature from Jewish Institute of Religion-Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Saperstein was a well-Known and popular adjunct instructor in Judaic Studies at New College in Sarasota. He was a member of the Board of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Sarasota-Manatee, the Southwest Florida Chapter of The American Jewish Committee and active in other communal organizations. He was a member of numerous professional organizations including the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
- HIS EMINENCE WILLIAM CARDINAL KEELER, Fourteenth Archbishop of Baltimore
Throughout his career, Cardinal Keeler has developed a reputation for effectively building interfaith bonds, and he is particularly noted for his work in fostering an effective Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The Archbishop has served as the Episcopal Moderator, Catholic-Jewish Relations, of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. As chairman of the NCCB’s Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs from 1984 to November 1987, he helped arrange the Pope’s meetings with Jewish leaders in Miami and with Protestant leaders in Columbia S.C., during the 1987 papal visit.
– RABBI A. JAMES RUDIN
With experience as a United States Air Force Chaplain and having served congregations in Kansas City, MO and Champaign, IL, Rabbi Rudin brought real life encounters to the study of interfaith relations. He is the past chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations and has participated in ten meetings with Pope John Paul II. Rabbi Rudin has served as Senior Interreligious Advisor for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and retired in 2000. He was a catalyst and founding father of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies and has provided both spiritual and temporal guidance to this organization for more than nine years. He was also founder of the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry and a member of the Camp David/Presidential Retreat Interfaith Chapel Committee and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission.
In 1997, Rabbi Rudin received a “Person of Reconciliation Award” in Warsaw, Poland from the Polish Council of Christians and Jews and for Ten years has been a consultant on Passion Plays in Oberammergau, Germany. He continues to serve as a member of the American Jewish Committee’s Board of Governors and as a member of the New York State Task Force on Life and Law. Rabbi Rudin is also a visiting professor at Saint Leo University, and a noted author who writes a weekly column for the Religion News Service.
RABBI ABIE INGBER, DR. WILLIAM MADGES, DR. JAMES BUCHANAN
Their exhibit focuses on the life and times of Polish born Karol Wojtyla from his childhood and youth in Poland, his theological studies during the German occupation of his homeland, his career in the priesthood and his twenty seven year papacy. Special emphasis is given to the Pope's close personal ties to the world Jewish community that culminated with his unforgettable visit to Israel in 2000. An exhibit not to be missed.
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