Report on the Seventeenth Annual Meeting

Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

Report on the Seventeeth Annual Meeting


Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange at Providence College

Providence, Rhode Island

Sunday, November 4 - Monday, November 5, 2018


The Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations was hosted by the Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange at Providence College on Sunday, November 4 and Monday, November 5, 2018. The schedule for the meeting was as follows:

Sunday, November 4

Kevin Spicer, C.S.C., CCJR Chair, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone to Providence College, thanking Arthur Urbano for the college's hospitality. 

2:00-4:00 pm

CCJR Panel I: “Righting Relations after the Holocaust and Vatican II: Essays in Honor of John Pawlikowski”

The panel consisted of the editors and some contributors to this Festschrift, published in August 2018 to honor John Pawlikowski (the CCJR’s 2012 Shevet Achim honoree).

  • Robert A. Cathey, co-editor [McCormick Theological Seminary]
  • Elena G. Procario-Foley, co-editor [Iona College]
  • Victoria Barnett [U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum] (in absentia her remarks were read by Elena G. Procario-Foley.) 
  • Yehezkel Landau [Landau Interfaith Training/Consulting]
  • Peter A. Pettit [Muhlenberg College] 

4:30 – 6:00

Public Keynote: “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara: The Continuing Controversy”

  • David Kertzer [Brown University]


  • Holly Taylor Coolman [Providence College]
  • Matthew Tapie [Saint Leo University]
  • Moderator: Arthur Urbano [Providence College]

6:00-6:45 Public Reception

7:00-8:30 CCJR Awards Dinner

(Dinner courtesy of the Office of Mission and Ministry, Providence College)

  Shevet achim group detail
  Ruth Langer, Celia Deutsch, keynoter David Kertzer, honoree Abraham Skorka, chair Kevin Spicer, Philip Cunningham, host Arthur Urbano    


Shevet Achim honoree: Rabbi Dr. Abraham Skorka

[Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer, rector emeritus]

Tributes by:

  • Burton Visotzky [Jewish Theological Seminary] (Text read by Ruth Langer.) 
  • Philip Cunningham [Saint Joseph’s University]
  • Celia Deutsch [Barnard College]


Monday, November 5

(CCJR Board of Directors Meeting at 7:30 over breakfast)

Monday’s panels marked the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel.


CCJR Panel II: “The Land/State of Israel in Jewish Theology”

For centuries, Jewish hopes for a return to their biblical homeland were framed in messianic or eschatological categories. The 1948 establishment of the State of Israel and the 1967 extension of Israeli control over biblical Judea and Samaria, therefore, raised many theological questions for Jews that this panel explored. 

  • Ruth Langer [Boston College]
  • Yehezkel Landau [Israeli-American interfaith scholar/educator]
  • Moderator: Ron Simkins [Creighton University]


CCJR Annual Business Meeting

  1. Welcome and Call to Order  (Kevin Spicer, chair)

  2. Roll Call of Member Organizations 

Regular members represented: Boston College, Catholic Theological Union, College of the Holy Cross, Creighton University, Florida Atlantic University, Gratz College, Hebrew College, Iona College, Merrimack College, Mobile Christian-Jewish Dialogue, Muhlenberg College, Providence College, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, Saint Joseph's University, Saint Leo University, Siena College, Sisters of Sion, Stonehill College, Tanenbaum Center, Xavier University. Quorum achieved. 

  1. Nominations Report (Kevin Spicer, chair)

Speaking for the Board, the Chair nominated for Vice-Chair Adam Gregerman until 2021 (succeeding Ron Simkins) and as an At-large Member Victoria Barnett until 2021 (succeeding Heather Miller Rubens).

  1. Election of open Board of Directors seats

There being no additional nominations from the floor, the proposed nominees were elected unanimously.

  1. 2019 meeting: Location and date.

Several member centers or institutes invited the Council to be hosted by them at its 2019 meeting. These included Florida Atlantic University, Gratz College, Iona College, and Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology. The Board will work out the possibilities with these institutions and thanks them for their invitations. 

  1. New Member Applications: none

  2. Amendment to the bylaws:

In response to inquiries it has received about its understanding of interreligious dialogue, the Board proposed an amendment to the Council's bylaws. After some discussion a motion was made and seconded to add the italicized sentence to the third bullet point under Bylaw 2:

"Purposes" – To foster mutual understanding between Christians and Jews through dialogue that respects Judaism and Christianity in their religious distinctiveness and integrity. Our members are committed to interreligious dialogue the purpose of which is neither to to undermone or to change the religious identity of the other, but rather seeks to be enriched by each other's religious lives and traditions.

The proposed amendment was approved unanimously. 

  1. ICCJ Report (Phil Cunningham, Immediate Past President)

The International Council of Christians and Jews held a very successful annual conference in Hungary from June 24-27, 2018. The theme was "Towards Reconciliation in a Broken World. Jewish and Christian Contributions to Responsible Citzizenship." A number of Council members participated and reported they found the interaction among people from many different nations to be quite valuable. They encouraged other CCJR members to attend in the future. 

Celia Deutsch reported that she and Deborah Weissman are preparing a new educational curriculum on the ICCJ's 2009 "Twelve Points of Berlin" statement. 

Phil Cunningham reported that the ICCJ's research project, "Promise, Land, and Hope" has been completed and a book manuscript has been accepted for publication by Paulist Press' Stimulus Series under the title: Enabling Dialogue about the Land: A Resource Book for Jews and Christians. It is edited by Ruth Langer, Jesper Svartvik, and Phil who also have contributed articles to the book, with several CCJR members also making contributions to it: Mehnaz Afridi, Adam Gregerman, John Pawlikowski, and Peter Pettit. It will hopefully be published in a year or so. 

The 2019 ICCJ conference will be held in Lund, Sweden from Sunday, June 30 - Wednesday, July 3, 2019. The working theme is: "Transformations Within and Between: How Does Our New Relationship Affect Christian and Jewish Self-Understandings?" Further details are forthcoming. 

  1. SCJR Report (Camille Markey, SCJR Managing Editor)

Camille distributed a report on the publication of the Council's journal, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations. It was prepared by herself, co-editors Ruth Langer and Kevin Spicer, and reviews editor Adam Gregerman.

Contents of the Current Volume, Vol. 13 (2018) to date are three peer-reviewed articles and eleven book reviews, with four potential peer-reviewed articles and seventeen books currently undrer review.

The final contents of Vol. 12 (2017) were ten peer-reviewed articles and twenty-five reviews.

The journal's publication rate over the past twelve months for peer-reviewed submissions is 25% published, 38% were rejected by the editors, and 37% were rejected after peer review.

The managing editor's report was received unanimously and the membership thanked all the editors for their hard work. 

  1. Treasurer's Report (Phil Cunningham) 

The report for September 11, 2017 to October 31, 2018 was distributed and discussed, together with the proposed budget for 2018-2019. (Both are available to voting members upon request.)  The treasurer noted that there were a lot of unusual expenses in the past year because of the upgrading of the content management software for the Council's website. This included the need to rent server space for two sites while the transition was underway. It was noted that meeting these costs was assisted by the raising of the minimum annual dues for regular and liaison members from $250 to $300. Even so, the projection for next year's budget includes an overall deficit, which might suggest a further dues increase in the future. Both the report and the proposed budget were unanimusly approved. 

  1. Chair’s Report (Kevin Spicer)

Kevin Spicer reported in detail on his extremely positive experiences of the ICCJ meeting in Budapest, Hungary.  He also noted that he had worked with legal counsel and a professor of accounting at Stonehill College for the CCJR to obtain charitable organization status as a 401(c)3 organization in Massachusetts.  In addition, he discussed the CCJR board’s investigation into corporate insurance for the CCJR. 

  1. Old Business: None. 

  2. New Business  

Phil Cunningham reported on a discussion the Board recently had regarding the possibility of adding an additional day to CCJR conferences for a scholarly "think tank" in which participants could share and receive feedback on works in progress. The idea was precipitated by the financial difficulties being experienced by the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations, which may result in its dissolution. The CSG was founded in 1969 as the Israel Study Group and has continued since then with rotating members and under varying sponsorships. It composed the important 2002 statement "A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People" (complementing Dabru Emet) and the follow-up volume edited by Mary C. Boys, Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity's Sacred Obligation. The idea being suggested is not to absorb or sponsor the CSG, but to establish the possiblity for a similar, ongoing endeavor for members (including individual members) of the CCJR, which would naturally include both Christian and Jewish scholars. Current CSG members would be invited to join the CCJR. The Chair asked for a "sense of the body" as to whether the Board should explore the possibilities further. There was unanimous consent. 

  1. Adjournment: The Chair adjourned the meeting at 11:50 a.m.

12:00-1:00 Lunch (The SCJR advisory board met over lunch.) 


CCJR Panel III: “The Land/State of Israel in Christian Theology”

Supersessionist Christians claimed that any covenantal link between the People and the Land of Israel had been severed after the coming of Christ. Post-Shoah efforts to affirm Jewish covenantal life and the foundation of the State of Israel pose complex challenges for Christian theology. The panelists offered some theological approaches.

  • Philip A. Cunningham [Saint Joseph’s University]
  • Peter A. Pettit [Muhlenberg College]
  • Moderator: Ruth Sandberg [Gratz College]


CCJR Panel IV: “The Land/State of Israel in Christian-Jewish Dialogue”

This panel considered interreligious aspects of the theological questions discussed in the earlier two panels.

  • Adam Gregerman [Saint Joseph's University] – "Christian statements on Israel"
  • Emma O’Donnell Polyakov [Merrimack College] – “Identity and the Idea of the Holy Land among Christians in Israel-Palestine.”
  • Abraham Skorka [Saint Joseph's University] – "What Jews need to say to Christians"
  • Moderator: Kevin Spicer [Stonehill College]

4: 30 Summation and Adjournment: Kevin Spicer, Chair