Report on the Nineteenth Annual Meeting

Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

Report on the Nineteenth Annual Meeting

Meeting Held Virtually Online

Sunday, October 25, 2020


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations was held online. 

CCJR Annual Business Meeting (1:00-2:30 PM)

  1. Welcome (Kevin Spicer, CCJR Chair)
  2. Bonnie Shafrin, CCJR Secretary/Treasurer, took role call of regular member institutions. The following regular members, constituting a quorum, were represented:

Bennet Center for Judaic Studies & Catholic Studies, Fairfield University; Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union; Stonehill College; Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, Saint Leo University; Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College; College of the Holy Cross: Committee on Ethic, Religion, & the Holocaust, USHMM; Gratz College, Certificate in Jewish-Christian Studies; Miller Center, Hebrew College; Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies, Baltimore; Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations, Saint Joseph’s University; Iona College, Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies; Lux Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology; Kripke Center, Creighton University; Jewish-Christian Theological Exchange, Providence College; Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, NY. 

  1. Nomination Report (Victoria Barnett)

Victoria Barnett, CCJR Board Member, thanked the election committee of Ruth Langer and Elena Procario-Foley for their work and presented the following slate of officers who were nominated for re-election to three year terms:

  • CCJR Chair: Kevin Spicer (Stonehill College), 2020-2023
  • Member-at-Large: Ruth Sandberg (2020-2023) 
  1. Election of Open Board of Directors seats

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

  1. New Regular Membership Application (FAITH Foundation; Bonnie Shafrin CCJR Secretary/Treasurer)

Bonnie Shafrin presented the information for the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony—FAITH—as stated on the CCJR member center application that was submitted by the FAITH director and founder, Rabbi Mark Winer. Phil Cunningham endorsed the achievements of both Rabbi Winer and FAITH in the field of Interreligous relations and dialogue and stated his support for approval of the application. The FAITH Foundation's application was apprived unanimously. 

  1. CCJR Treasurer’s Report (Bonnie Shafrin)

Bonnie Shafrin began her report by thanking and giving kudos to Philip Cunningham for his many years of running the administration of CCJR with great care and intelligence and for the support he has given her during the transition to taking over the Secretary/Treasurer position.

Bonnie, together with Phil, decided to establish standard accounting dates in order to to make the reporting easier (October 1 to September 30 each year). Prior to this, the beginning of the accounting year was dependent on the start date of the annual meeting. So those members who paid after October 1, 2020 will be included in the 2021-2022 accounting.

Bonnie Shafrin thanked those member institutions who have paid their CCJR annual dues and gave special appreciation to those institutions who either paid the maximum amount of $1,000 (Boston College, Catholic Theological Union, Saint Joseph’s University, Siena College) and those who paid above the basic dues (Iona College, Florida Atlantic University, Seton Hall University,Institute for Islamic, Christian,and Jewish Studies in Baltimore).

The names of individual members were noted. Ruth Langer suggested that the names of the student members should also be noted.

Bonnie asked the members to consider whether there are other institutions or individuals who should be invited to apply for CCJR membership. Elena Procario-Foley mentioned that it has been discussed at a past meeting that there may be centers in colleges and universities that are located west of Creigton University in Omaha. Loyola Marymount University in LA may be an example. Ruth Langer also mentioned that Evangelicals have gotten more involved in dialogue and they may have centers/institutions that would contribute to interreligious dialogue.

Phil Cunningham moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report and Ron Simkins seconded the motion. It was passed by a majority show of hands.

Bonnie then reviewed a proposed budget and explained that this year’s budget was simplified due to few expenses toward the annual meeting since it was not held in person. Elena Procario-Foley made a motion to accept the 2020-2021 budget and Phil Cunningham seconded it. The budget was passed by a majority show of hands. Elena also suggested that since the the dates for standardizing the budget has been moved to October 1st, that dues statements be sent out earlier in the year—in spring rather than summer when most universities are not operating at full capacity.

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

Camille Markey reported that Kevin Spicer, Ruth Langer, Adam Gregerman and herself served to review and edit the most recently submitted articles and book reviews for this year’s edition of the SCJR. A new contract with ATLA was negotiated for full-text index. She will send a copy of the SCJR Report to Bonnie Shafrin.

  1. Discussion RE: CCJR statements (Ruth Sandberg)

Ruth Sandberg reminded members that there was a discussion at the 2019 meeting initiated by Vicki Barnett concerning whether CCJR should either make a statement or write a letter to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos concerning postings of historically antisemitic literature that was being sold through their website. The outcome of the discussion was an agreement that larger organizations than CCJR (e.g. ADL) would have greater impact especially when related to complicated issues.

The CCJR Board has recently discussed CCJR policy concerning public statements. Kevin Spicer added that it is a question of when CCJR makes statements or when we do not. With a recent statement composed by CCJR, some members stood back because they felt it was political.

Phil Cunningham stated that there is a process that exists and can be viewed on the CCJR webpage (procedures/statements). The Board may decide to send a private communication as long as regular members are notified. If 5-6 regular members say the CCJR should make a statement on a particular issue, the issue should be addressed by the Board. A lot depends on the Board and what the issue might be. He emphasized that CCJR may have particular expertise to address certain issues related to interreligious relations (gave example of Mel Gibson film “Passion of the Christ.”)

Kevin Spicer asked members if there are currently particular issues that CCJR should address or support?

Heather Miller-Rubens asked if it is known how many people looked at the last statement that was posted.

Kevin mentioned that sometimes the ICCJ will pick it up and repost it. With the last statement he contacted Stonehill marketing department and did send it to certain media but there were no takers.

Elena Procario-Foley thanked Phil for looking at this issue and agreed that if CCJR has particular competence to address an issue, then it is good to take a look at it. She recommended an article by Robert Masson “When Stands Are Taken Where Do We Stand.”

  1. ICCJ Report (Phil Cunningham)

Phil gave a report about the activities of the ICCJ including the decision in April to postpone the annual 2020 conference until 2021, and noted that this year's conference will probably be held virtually. Plans are being made about how to hold the plenary sessions with the international time and language differences in mind.

He mentioned that CCJR could be involved with programs that will particularly address the western hemisphere.

  1. Announcement of Future Meetings (Kevin Spicer, CSC)

The 2021 Meeting is planned for October 31-November 1, 2021 at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL. This plan will be confirmed by Spring, 2021 and may consider offering some sessions online in order to reach a larger audience. The Board might consider offer the annual meeting via Zoom even if the coronavirus is not an issue.    

Fall 2022, Gratz College, Melrose Park, PA

  1. Additional Business (Kevin Spicer)

Victoria Barnett suggested that web offerings from member institutions could be posted on the CCJR website or even to post recorded sessions. Ruth Langer mentioned that if a recorded session is on youtube, members could link into any session.

  1. Adjournment 

Chair Kevin Spicer adjourned the virtual 2020 meeting at 2:30 PM. 


Keynote Webinar (3:00-4:30 PM): American Antisemitism in Historical Perspective

  • Jonathan D. Sarna (Brandeis University)


  • Heather Miller Rubens (Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies)
  • Lance J. Sussman (Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel) 
  • Moderator: Victoria J. Barnett (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, emerita)