Report on the Twelfth Annual Meeting

Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

Report on the Twelfth Annual Meeting

Manhattan College
Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center

Riverdale, New York

Sunday, October 20 - Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013  

The public event this year was a keynote address by John Connelly (University of California, Berkeley) and author of the important recent book, From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1945. The title of his remarks was, "The Question of a Christian Mission to Jews as a Key Factor in the Birth of the New Catholic-Jewish Relationship."  Responses to the keynote address were given by Thomas Ferguson (Manhattan College) and Adam Gregerman (Saint Joseph's University).  The printed texts of the keynote and responses will be published in the Council's e-journal, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations. The keynote session was moderated by our host, Mehnaz Afridi (Manhattan College) and the keynoter introduced by vice-chair Kevin Spicer (Stonehill College).

2013 CCJR 2(L to R:) Host Mehanz Afridi, Keynoter John Connelly, Respondents Thomas Ferguson and Adam Gregerman

Prior to the keynote, the annual meeting had begun with a panel discussion on "Educational Initiatives about Israeli-Palestinian Issues."Leah Sarna and Sang Yun (Yale University) spoke about their experiences in an Orthodox Jewish - Evangelical Christian dialogue and study trip to Israel, Peter Pettit (Muhlenberg College) presented the Hartman Institute's curriculum, "New Paths: Christians Engaging Israel," and Philip A. Cunningham (Saint Joseph's University) sketched the background and purposes of the 2013 ICCJ statement, "As Long as You Believe in a Living God, You Must have Hope."  The panel was moderated by CCJR chair Ruth Langer (Boston College).

2013 CCJR 1(L to R:) Ruth Langer, Leah Sarna, Sang Yun, Philip Cunningham, and Peter Pettit
At the dinner following the public program, the Council presented its Shevet Achim Award for Outstanding Contributions to Christian-Jewish Understanding posthumously to Rabbi Leon Klenicki, longtime interreligious affairs director for the Anti-Defamation League. Tributes were given by the editors of Toward the Future, a forthcoming festschift in his honor: Celia Deutsch (Barnard College), Eugene J. Fisher (Saint Leo University) and A. James Rudin (Saint Leo University), and by one of Rabbi Klenicki's successors at the ADL, Eric Greenberg. The award was accepted by Myra Cohen Klenicki on her late husband's behalf.

2013 CCJR 3
Myra Cohen Klenicki (center) accepts the Shevet Achim award on behalf of the late Rabbi Leon Klenicki from CCJR Chair Ruth Langer. On either end are two editors of the forthcoming festschrift, Toward the Future, Celia Deutsch (left) and Eugene Fisher (right). Rabbi Klenicki's daughter Ruth Finkelstein and grandson Eli Finkelstein complete the group.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The morning began with a panel that examined various aspects of "Implementing a New Relationship with Jews among Christians." Kevin Dowd (Boston College) discussed Catholic educational issues, Susan Auchincloss ( urged that reforms occur in the presentation of Jews in the Common Lectionary, and Dennis McManus (Georgetown University / USCCB) highlighted the need for Christian-Jewish dialogue to push beyond superficiality to authentic interior transformation.  The panel was moderated by Ronald Simkins (Crieghton University).

2013 CCJR 4Kevin McManus (speaking) with Kevin Dowd and Susan Auchincloss.

The annual business meeting was convened by the chair, Ruth Langer (Boston College) at 11 a.m.  A quorum was achieved through the presence of representatives of these institutional regular members: Boston College, Catholic Theological Union, Creighton University, Iona College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Manhattan College, Merrimack College, Muhlenberg College, Saint Joseph's University, Saint Leo University, Seton Hill University, Siena College, Sisters of Sion Relation & Encounter, Spring Hill College, Stonehill College, the Tanenbaum Center, and the University of Notre Dame.

The chair began by thanking Mehnaz Afridi and Manhattan College for their gracious hospitality and all their work in preparing for the meeting.

  1. Board Nominations and Election. There were no elections for CCJR officers slated for this year. Next year, the positions of chair, secretary-treasurer, and one at-large member (Alan Brill) will be elected. Past chair Elena Procario-Foley (Iona College) will arrange for nominations.

  2. 2014 Annual Meeting. The 2014 meeting will be hosted by the Mobile Christian-Jewish Dialogue at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Local conference chair Lawrence Voit spoke about the enthusiasm for hosting the meeting in the local community. A discussion ensued about whether to enpand the meeting by one day, especially given the travel times for most members. It was agreed that the dates would be at least Sunday, October 26 and Monday, October 27, 2014, but with the addition of either Saturday, October 25 (traveling on Friday, Oct 24) or Tuesday, October 28, the former depending on whether proper shabbat observances would be possible. The local planing committee and the Board will determine this.
    2013 CCJR 7Eric Greenberg with 2014 hosts Larry and Ricky Voit.
    The venue for the 2015 annual is still open and will need to reckon with the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate on October 28, 2015.

    It was noted that there was conflict for the second year in a row between the CCJR meeting and the semi-annual meeting of the Bishops' Committee on Interreligious Affairs and the National Council of Synagogues. The Board will seek to avoid this in the future.

  3. Amendments to the Bylaws. Two proposed amendments that had been discussed at the 2012 annual business meeting were brought to the floor. As per the bylaws, they had both been circulated to the voting membership (i.e., regular member organizations) in advance. The amendments, which were both approved unanimously, were as follows:

    1. Adding an additional bullet under 2. Purposes: To foster mutual understanding between Christians and Jews through dialogue that respects Judaism and Christianity in their religious distinctiveness and integrity.

    2. New Item 4: Revocation of Membership: Membership will be revoked after two consecutive years of failure to respond to dues notices (24 months after the last payment of dues). In cases of financial hardship, members should apply to the secretary-treasurer for an extension. Those removed from membership are welcome to reapply through the normal application process.

    Regarding Amendment A, there was some discussion about its implications for potential future applications from centers or institutes that self-define as "messianic Jews." It was generally agreed to address this situation if and when it ever arises.
  4. New Member Applications.  The Board presented applications for regular membership from the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Miami, Florida and the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and for (overseas) membership from the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Collaboration in Efrat. The Board initiated a new procedure by distributing its recommendations about the applications, based upon the bylaws and mission of the Council. The Board recommended the approval of all three applications.  After discussing each application, the voting members unanimously approved all three. Given the unsettled political jurisdictional questions over Efrat between the State of the Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it was agreed to list the location of the CJCUC on Council materials as simply "Efrat."

  5. International Council of Christians and Jews Report. Phil Cunningham (Saint Joseph's University) did not repeat the information he gave during the panel the previous afternoon. He thanked the Council on ICCJ's behalf for awarding three "Michael Signer Scholarships" to allow young students to participate in the meetings held last June in Aix-en-Provence, France. He reported that the next ICCJ meeting will occur in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 18-22, 2014. The 2015 ICCJ meeting will occur in Rome, Italy from June 28 - July 2, 2015.

  6. Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations Report. Managin Editor, Camille Markey (Boston College) reported on the articles, proceeedings, and book reviews that have been published in the last year. There are a healthy number of articles in process, although there it is always desirable to have more peer-reviewed submissions. A new indexing system is being put in place and SCJR is now listed in a number of important professional indices. The reviews section is particularly thriving thanks to the conscientious work of reviews editor Adam Gregerman (Saint Joseph's University). Given the heavy amount of work involved, it was moved and seconded that the honorarium for the reviews editor be raised to equal that given to the two co-editors. The motion passed unanimously.  Speaking for the Board, Phil Cunningham expressed thanks to Camille, Adam, and co-editors Ruth Langer and Kevin Spicer (Stonehill College) for all the work they have devoted to making SCJR such a quality publication.

  7. Secretary/Treasurer's Report.  Phil Cunningham presented the Treasurer's Report for 2012-2013 and the Proposed Budget for 2013-2014. Both are available to members not present upon request.  The report was received and the budget approved unanimously.

  8. Upgrade to the CCJR Website. Webmaster Phil Cunningham reported that there are now in excess of 1300 articles on the site, most of them connected with its resource library, Dialogika. He announced that the first software upgrade since its inception in 2007 is now in progress under the direction of Dr. Daniel Michaels of KeyPoppy Christian Resources, the Council's tech provider. The upgrade will provide some increased functionality to the site, especially for small devices such as smartphones, and a new look. He asked that once the upgraded site is launched that all members check their online membership information for accuracy and that all the relevant hyperlinks are functional.
  9. Chair's Report.  Ruth Langer reported that no special Board action was required since the last annual meeting. She thanked everyone for the efficient operations of the Council.

  10. Old Business:  none.

  11. New Business:  Phil Cunningham summarized a discussion that he and Ron Simkins (Creighton University) had, which also related to the remarks in that morning's panel by Dennis McManus. Many people working in Christian-Jewish relations have bemoaned the deterioration in the quality of some institutional interfaith meetings that often are little more than information exchanges. Simultaneously, there has been a maturation in the dialogue (particularly in academia) that moves beyond superficiality and demands sustained, in-depth conversation. As Dennis has put it, the "interiority" of the two traditions needs to be engaged. Ron suggested that perhaps with an extra day added to CCJR annual meetings that we could take advantage of the additional time to promote this type of profound interaction among our own members, who have expertise hard to replicate in other groups.  The idea met with general approval. The Mobile planning committee was also enthusiastic. The Board will see what might be possible for the 2014 meeting in Mobile and the 2015 meeting marking the 50 anniversary of Nostra Aetate.

  12. Adjournment. The business meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.
After lunch, the annual meeting continued with a panel discussion with a panel discussion of "Strategies for Addressing Interreligious Prejudice, Hatred, and Fear Today." Mehnaz Afridi (Manhattan College) spoke about the challenges the events of September 11, 2001 posed for trilateral relations and how they impacted her work at Manhattan College. Mark Weitzman (Museum of Tolerance) continued in a similar vein, noting especially the social forces at work. David Gibson (Religion New Service) discussed the media's role in intensifying tensions by tending to focus on controversy and also the influence of online social media factors. 

2013 CCJR 5(L to R:) Mehnaz Afridi, Mark Weitzman, and David Gibson.
Following this panel, the 12th Annual Meeting concluded at 3:15 p.m. Everyone again thanked our hosts at Manhattan College, especially Mehnaz Afridi, for all their hard work and hospitality.