Report on the Twentieth Annual Meeting

Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

Report on the Twentieth Annual Meeting

 Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sunday, October 31 - Monday, November 1, 2021 


 The Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations was hosted by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Christian Relations of Muhlenberg College on Sunday, October 31 and Monday, November 1, 2021. This was the first in-person conference since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, so the program was briefer than customary. 


Panel 1: Women, Gender, Leadership, and Interreligious Relations (2:30-4:00 PM) 

The role of women and the understanding of gender is constantly in flux in today’s world and within our religious traditions. This panel presents an open conversation about women, gender, and leadership in the world of interreligious encounter, an important topic to consider as we look to the future of interreligious dialogue. 


  • Mehnaz Afridi (Manhattan College)
  • Celia Deutsch (Barnard College)
  • Malka Simkovich (Catholic Theological Union)
  • Moderator: Elena Procario-Foley (Iona College)


Shevet Achim Award and Keynote Address (4:30 - 6:00 PM)

Honoree and Keynoter: Philip Cunningham (Saint Joseph’s University)

Presenter of Award:      Kevin Spicer (CCJR Chair, Stonehill College)


  • Mary Boys (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Adam Gregerman (Saint Joseph’s University)

Keynote: “Maxims for Mutuality: Principles for Catholic Theology, Education, and Preaching about Jews and Judaism”  [VIDEO

  • Philip Cunningham


  • Elena Procario-Foley (Iona College),
  • Benjamin Sax (Institute for Islamic-Christian-Jewish Studies)


Reception and Dinner (6:30 - 8:30 PM) 



Panel 2: Addressing Contentious Issues in Jewish-Christian Relations (9:00 - 10:30 AM)

The Israeli-Palestinian / Israeli-Arab conflicts remain central issues of contention in Jewish-Christian relations, fueled regularly by new developments and events. They also overlap with issues we all deal with: the ongoing reality of antisemitism and Islamophobia and the challenges of responding to multiple forms of hatred. As people with experience and friendships in Jewish-Christian dialogue, how are our conversations different from those in other contexts? What lessons or constructive insights can we share with one another? We would like to frame this session as an opportunity for a wider discussion among CCJR meeting attendees. Based on our experience as participants in Jewish-Christian dialogue, where do we see possible ways of getting beyond contention?

  • Vicki Barnett (USHMM emerita)
  • Mary Boys (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Adam Gregerman (Saint Joseph’s University)


CCJR Annual Business Meeting (10:45 AM -12 Noon) 

  1. Welcome (Kevin Spicer, CSC, CCJR Chair)

  2. Roll Call of Member Organizations:

    Regular members represented: Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center, Catholic Theological Union; Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, Xavier University; Catholic-Jewish Dialogue, Stonehill College; Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College; Christian Jewish Relations & Encounter, Sisters of Our Lady of Sion; Kraft-Hiatt Program for Jewish-Christian Understanding, College of the Holy Cross; Committee on Ethics, Religion, & the Holocaust, USHMM; Certificate in Jewish-Christian Studies, Gratz College; Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies, Baltimore; Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations, Saint Joseph’s University; Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies, Iona College; Lux Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology; Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, NY. Quorum achieved.  Liaison Representative: Anti-Defamation League; Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

  3.  Nomination Report

The Chair informed the membership that elections will be held for CCJR Board positions whose terms of service have been fulfilled. Nominated for 3-year terms:

  • Vice-Chair—Adam Gregerman (Saint Joseph’s University), 2021-2024
  • Member-at-Large—Rebecca Carter-Chand (US Holocaust Memorial Museum), 2021-2024
  1. Election of open Board of Directors seats

    There being no additional nominations from the floor, the proposed nominees were elected unanimously. The Chair thanked Victoria Barnett for her service as a Member-at-Large on the Board.

  2. New Member Applications: none

  3. CCJR Treasurer’s Report (Bonnie Shafrin, CCJR Secretary/Treasurer)

The report for this year was distributed and discussed. 2020-2021. Members noted that AJ Levine was listed twice as an individual member. Celia Deutsch’s name was omitted on the list of individuals who paid single membership dues. Philip Cunningham made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s report as amended. The motion was seconded by Elena Procario- Foley. By a majority vote, the Treasurer’s report was accepted as amended.

The 2021-2022 CCJR Budget was presented to the members by the Secretary-Treasurer. Philip Cunningham made a motion to accept the CCJR budget for the 2021-2022 year. Adam Gregerman seconded the motion. Those present voted to accept the CCJR budget.

  1. SCJR [Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations Journal] Ruth Langer, Co-Editor of the SCJR, delivered the journal update. She began by recognizing Philip Cunningham for founding the journal with Edward Kessler.

    Ruth asked those present for ideas on how to cultivate more articles. Could professors who are  mentoring students on Christian-Jewish relations be approached?  The editors are particularly        interested in articles on the topics of race and antisemitism. Could mini conferences on a particular    paper or issue be held via zoom? Would this be more appropriate for SCJR or CCJR to host? CCJR might be the correct host.

    Elena Procario-Foley suggested that a panel on an interesting topic/theological issue could be a special feature of the journal with polished articles on this topic. Kevin Spicer emphasized that SCJR will not publish conference papers. Ruth suggested that there may be a way to help European papers (e.g., ICCJ) be polished so that they are appropriate peer review. Europeans tend to have a different perspective on some of these issues.

    Another suggestion was to choose a book that was relevant theologically and then invite people to submit papers that review the book or speak to the topic of the book.  Ruth will bring ideas to the SCJR editorial board and the CCJR Board.
  1. ICCJ Report (Phil Cunningham)
  • The 2021 Annual Conference was held online, not in person. It was mostly quite successful, especially given the difficulties in including members reaching across 24 different time zones. Sessions were presented 24 hours each day, and the technology was complex.
  • Phil explained that CCJR is unique among ICCJ national member orgnaizations because it is a network of centers located mostly in universities. Also, the largest Jewish diaspora population is in the United States. CCJR has a role to bring academic quality to the rest of the world. Other countries have different structures in their organizations. 
  • At the virtual Annual General Meeting, Liliane Apotheker was elected president. No one from the United States were elected to the board. Phil is an honorary lifetime President.
  • Liliane has established a President’s Advisory group consisting of Adam Gregerman, Phil Cunningham and Katharina von Kellenback.
  • Gregor Maria Hoff at the University of Salzburg has invited the ICCJ to collaborate in awarding an annual Seelisberg Prize which would include a monetary award and time teaching at the university. This is made possible by a foundation grant that Salzburg has received. 
  • ICCJ hopes to have an in-person conference in Bratislava at the end of June or end of July 2022.
  1. Collaboration with the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, US Conference of Catholic Bishops (Phil Cunningham) 
  • Walter Kedjierski, director of the SEIA,  invited the CCJR through Chair Kevin Spicer to collaborate in addressing the issues that arose over the summer regarding Pope Francis' catecheses on the Letter to the Galatians. The Secretariat had received the approval of the US Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs to develop initiatives to combat the recent rise in antisemitic outbursts.
  • The Chair asked asked Phil to assemble a small committee to work with the SEIA on addressing topics that may misrepresent or distort Judaism. Included will be Phil, Adam Gregerman, Mary Boys, and Amy-Jill Levine for the CCJR. Fr. Dennis McManus, Rebecca Cohen, and Fr. Kedjierski are the SEIA personnel.

  • On a separate note related to the Galatians controversy, as webmaster Phil also reminded eveyrone that the CCJR listserve is a private endeavor for only CCJR members. He asked that people not share posts to others in order to protect the listserve from exposure to viruses.
  • He also mentioned that a Catholic Biblical Association Taskforce is preparing multiple fact sheets and videos on homiletics and teachings about Jews and Judaism to give guidance on particularly problematic lectionary readings 
  1. Discussion About Future Meeting Sites (Kevin Spicer, CSC)
  • 2022 Gratz College
  • 2023 Catholic Theological Union
  • 2024 Iona College
  • Dates in consideration for the 2022 annual meeting are October 23-24 or November 6-7

  • Phil Cunningham stated his opinion that the meeting have Monday afternoon sessions or add more sessions to Sunday schedule in order to make it worthwhile for people to travel distances. Kevin Spicer observed that this year's schedule had to be curtailed because of COVID. 
  1. Additional Business
  • Malka Simkovich announced that the Catholic Theological Union’s Perlmutter Conference will be held on March 21-22, 2022 and is asking for abstracts to be submitted. The topic is “Competing Identities in Public and Private Sectors."
  • Elena Procario-Foley announced that Iona College’s Kristallnacht Commemoration will be held on November 14, 2021 with speaker Susan Neiman. Registration for the virtual event is free.
  1. Adjourment

Chair Kevin Spicer adjourned the annual meeting at 12 noon. He thanked Saint Joseph's University for hosting the meeting. He invited members to stay for lunch and wished everyone a safe trip home.