January 2024 Newsletter

Dear Friends of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies: 

We begin the first month of this new year facing unprecedented challenges. How can we engage in fruitful dialogue in a time of crisis? As Yossi Klein Halevi recently said, it feels as if it is October 104th. How can it be January 19th?

On Thursday, February 29th at 1pm Eastern Time, the CCJS invites you to reflect with a panel of scholars on this question in a webinar entitled "The Task of Dialogue in a Time of Crisis." The panel includes Karma Ben-Johanan, Yazid Said, Peter Ochs, and Gavin D'Costa.

Below you can also find a video of Rabbi David Fox Sandmel's recent lecture, "Why Catholic-Jewish Relations Matter Today," which he delivered at the CCJS's 25th anniversary event in Tampa. You can also find details about other upcoming programs, as well as recent news and activities at the center.


Matthew Tapie

Director, Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies

Associate Professor of Theology


Beyond Tolerance: How to Build Understanding and Respect in Christian-Jewish Relations

Monday, January 29th

Monday, February 12th

Monday, March 11th

7 - 8:30pm | Three interreligious education sessions at Congregation Schaarai Zedek, Tampa FL

How do Jews and Christians relate today? How have they related in the past? What are the challenges facing Jewish-Christian relations? Are there resources in each tradition that can help us build positive views of other traditions? Join Rabbi David Maayan and Dr. Matthew Tapie for a three-part series on Jewish-Christian relations today. The aim of the series is to discuss how to move beyond tolerance toward a deep appreciation and respect for the other.

Rabbi David Maayan

Maureen and Douglas Cohn Visiting Chair in Jewish Thought

& Assistant Director of CCJS

Dr. Matthew Tapie

Associate Professor of Theology

& Director of CCJS

This event is free, in-person, and open to the public, but space is limited. Each session will address different aspects of the topic. You are welcome to attend any or all.

Congregation Schaarai Zedek

3303 W Swann Ave. Tampa, FL 33609

Register here

The Task of Dialogue in a Time of Crisis

Thursday, February 29th

1 - 2:30pm Eastern Time | Zoom webinar open to the public

How can we acquire deeper understanding of the other in the context of conflict, war, and disinformation? Are there principles that enable fruitful dialogue about difficult topics in the face of rising antisemitism and polarization? How can we sustain dialogue in moments of crisis? This webinar program features a panel of leading scholars who will address the current political crisis and tensions in Jewish-Christian dialogue directly. The aim is to identify solutions and guiding principles for dialogue in times of crisis with recognition of the challenges of this moment. The webinar will be moderated by Dr. Matthew Tapie and Rabbi David Maayan.

Dr. Karma Ben-Johanan teaches modern Christianity and Jewish-Christian Relations in the Department of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She completed her PhD in the Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University. Ben-Johanan is a historian of modern theology and religion, focused on interreligious tensions and dialogue especially between Christians and Jews after the Holocaust. She is the author of Jacob's Younger Brother: Christian-Jewish Relations after Vatican II (Harvard, 2022).

Rev. Dr. Yazid Said is Senior Lecturer in Islam at Liverpool Hope University, England. He is a Palestinian-born Anglican priest and an Israeli citizen. Said studied Classical Arabic and English Literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Christian theology at the University of Cambridge. After being ordained an Anglican priest, he completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge on the medieval Muslim theologian Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Said is the author of Ghazali’s Politics in Context (Routledge 2012 & 2017), and co-editor of The Future of Interfaith Dialogue: Muslim-Christian Encounters through A Common Word (Cambridge, 2018).  

Dr. Peter Ochs is the Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia, where he has served since 1997. Ochs is an influential thinker whose interests include Jewish philosophy and theology, modern and postmodern philosophical theology, pragmatism, and semiotics. He is the author of numerous articles and scholarly books, including Religion without Violence: The Practice and Philosophy of Scriptural Reasoning (Cascade, 2019), and Another Reformation: Postliberal Christianity and the Jews (Baker Academic, 2011).

Dr. Gavin D'Costa is the Emeritus Professor of Catholic Theology at the University of Bristol, England, and a visiting professor of Interreligious Dialogue at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome. D'Costa was born in Nairobi, Kenya and completed his education in England. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books including Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims (Oxford, 2014), and Catholic Doctrines on the Jewish People after Vatican II (Oxford, 2019). D'Costa also advises the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.  

This program is online via Zoom only. It is free and open to the public.

You must register using the button below to receive a link to the online program.

Register here

Interreligious Dialogue Group for Saint Leo Students

Tuesday, January 23

Tuesday, February 20 

Tuesday, March 19 

Tuesday, April 16

12:30 - 1:30pm | Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, St. Francis rm. 211

Undergraduate and graduate Saint Leo students are invited to join an interreligious dialogue group that will meet this spring in the CCJS. The students will explore the problem of polarization and conflict and how the reading of scripture and possible interpretations can bring about a deeper understanding of the other, and one's own tradition. Interested students and faculty can email the CCJS Administrator of Programs and Events, Laurie Gens, at [email protected] for more information. No registration or RSVP is required.

Judaism is About Love: Recovering the Heart of Jewish Life

Thursday, March 21st

7 - 8:30pm | Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Tampa FL

A dramatic misinterpretation of the Jewish tradition has shaped the history of the West: Christianity is the religion of love, and Judaism the religion of law. On Thursday, March 21st, Rabbi Dr. Shai Held will discuss how love is foundational and constitutive of true Jewish faith, animating the singular Jewish perspective on injustice and protest, grace, family life, responsibilities to our neighbors and even our enemies, and chosenness. Rabbi Held's presentation is based on his new book, Judaism is About Love that will be published this March. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Rabbi Dr. Shai Held is a philosopher, theologian, and Bible scholar. He is President and Dean at the Hadar Institute. Rabbi Held earned a PhD from Harvard University in Religious Studies. He received the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and has been named multiple times by Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America and by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the fifty most prominent Jews in the world. Held is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (Indiana University Press, 2013), and a two-volume collection of Torah essays entitled The Heart of Torah (Jewish Publication Society, 2017). You can read more of his work at www.hadar.org.

This event is free, in-person, and open to the public, but space is limited.

Congregation Rodeph Sholom

2713 Bayshore Blvd

Tampa, FL 33629

This program is co-sponsored by Congregation Rodeph Sholom

and Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Register here

New Findings and New Questions from the Recently Opened Archives of Pope Pius XII

Tuesday, April 16th

7 - 8:30pm | Christ the King Catholic Church, Tampa FL

On Tuesday, April 16th, Dr. Robert Ventresca will share excerpts from the Vatican’s newly opened Holocaust-era archives to examine the role of Catholic institutions and individuals, including the Vatican itself, in various forms of rescue during the Holocaust. New findings from the archives show that the lessons of history are complex, and challenge us to consider the social, geographical, and institutional factors that influenced the moral choices of Catholic religious leaders and laypersons during the Holocaust. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Dr. Robert Ventresca is Professor of History and Vice President and Academic Dean at King’s University College at Western University in London, Ontario (Canada). He is the author of Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII (Harvard, 2013) which was awarded the American Catholic Historical Association’s 2014 Koenig Prize for Catholic biography. Dr. Ventresca’s research and teaching explore the role of religion in European fascism, as well as religious involvement in the Holocaust with a special focus on the Vatican and the Catholic Church more broadly. He currently serves on the Committee on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. Dr. Ventresca also delivered a lecture at the October 2023 conference in Rome on the Archives of Pius XII. This program is designed to make some of the research and insights from the historic Rome conference available to members of the local community.

This event is free, in-person, and open to the public, but space is limited.

Christ the King Catholic Church

821 S. Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa FL 33609

Register here


CCJS Celebrates its 25th Anniversary

On October 26th, 2023, over 260 members of Tampa Bay community gathered for a special dinner event to celebrate the silver anniversary of the CCJS, founded in 1998 by Rabbi A. James Rudin, and Dr. Arthur Kirk, former president of Saint Leo University.

The event featured the CCJS's 19th Eternal Light Award recipient, Rabbi Dr. David Fox Sandmel, the Immediate Past Chair of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, and Senior Advisor on Interreligious Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. The celebration took place at the Shanna and Bryan Glazer Jewish Community Center in Tampa and celebrated the work of the CCJS to build mutual respect and understanding between Catholics, Jews, and all people of good will. 

Dinner chairs for the events were Joseph Probasco, attorney and board member of the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation, and Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. Both shared their thoughts on Catholic-Jewish relations in Tampa today. Serving as honorary chairs were Maureen Cohn and Gail Whiting. The dinner, which was also attended by Saint Leo students, was made possible by generous donors and sponsors.

You can read more about the anniversary event here.

A few photos from the event, as well as a video of Rabbi Sandmel's talk, "Why Catholic Jewish Relations Matter Today," can be found below.

Rabbi David Sandmel, "Why Catholic-Jewish Relations Matter Today"

CCJS Co-Organizes Historic Conference on Documents from the Pontificate of Pius XII and their Meaning for Jewish-Christian Relations

Rabbi David Maayan, Cohn Visiting Chair in Jewish Thought, speaking at the conference in Rome

The CCJS co-organized a historic international conference in Rome, which looked at new research based on the recently opened Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII’s pontificate. “New Documents from the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII and their Meaning for Jewish-Christian Relations: A Dialogue between Historians and Theologians,” took place October 9-11 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

In March 2020, Pope Francis opened millions of documents pertaining to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), before, during, and after World War II and the Holocaust. While it will take decades to analyze and ascertain the full significance of these archives estimated to be at least 16 million pages, some important discoveries were made and discussed during the conference.

“This was truly a historic meeting,” said Dr. Matthew Tapie, director of Saint Leo’s Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies (CCJS) and Rabbi David Maayan, assistant director. “The Rome conference, co-organized by the CCJS and others, represented the first time that the Vatican’s Apostolic Archive organized and participated in a conference on this important and often polarizing topic. 

“Cutting-edge research on the new documents was presented for analysis by high-level scholars in a way that broadened the discussion beyond Pius XII to the question of the Vatican’s reaction to the Holocaust,” the two CCJS leaders said. “And these difficult topics were also discussed in the context of Jewish-Christian dialogue. The conference was a real achievement, made possible by Pope Francis implementing the principle of St. Pope John Paul II that the Church is not afraid of history, and that Christians have a duty to study the causes of the Holocaust to ensure that something like it never happens again.”


You can read more about the conference here.

Videos of the presentations as well as paper abstracts are available here.

A copy of the full program can be found here.


Rabbi Maayan, the Cohn Visiting Chair in Jewish Thought, delivers keynote lecture at Catholic-Jewish dialogue event in Naples, FL

Rabbi David Maayan, the Maureen and Douglas Cohn Visiting Chair in Jewish Thought and Assistant Director of the CCJS, was the keynote speaker at the annual Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County's commemoration of Kristallnacht. The event took place at the St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Naples on November 5th, 2023.

Nearly 1,000 people participated in the event, which was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Venice, Jewish Federation of Greater Naples, GenShoah of Southwest Florida, and the Florida Holocaust Museum. Rabbi Maayan's talk was entitled "Theologies of the 'Other': Catholics and Jews After the Holocaust." The event concluded with Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice leading everyone in a moment of silence. You can read more about the event here.

Dr. Tapie and Rabbi Maayan teach new undergraduate course: Christian-Jewish Relations and the Culture of Encounter

Dr. Tapie and Rabbi Maayan will teach a Spring 2024 course entitled Christian-Jewish Relations and the Culture of Encounter for the Saint Leo University Honors Program. The course introduces students to the promise and challenge of dialogue between people of diverse backgrounds through a study of Pope Francis's encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship, published 2020) and contemporary Christian-Jewish relations. The course examines how dialogue can lead to a greater understanding of others as well as ourselves, and positively impact society. Students will learn that this rewarding process requires the engagement of contested histories and diverse perspectives.

Dr. Tapie to deliver lecture on Thomas Aquinas and Jewish-Christian Relations at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome

The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome has invited Dr. Tapie to speak at an academic conference on April 10-11, 2024, entitled "Aquinas on the Jews and Maimonides on the Christians: Reappropriating the Tradition for the Modern Period." The conference examines the use of tradition as a resource for contemporary Catholic-Jewish dialogue, especially drawing upon Aquinas and Maimonides and their views of Jews and Christians respectively. Can these great figures shed light on the issues ahead of us? Dr. Tapie's talk is entitled "Aquinas as Resource for Difficult Questions in Jewish-Christian Relations Today."


For over 25 years, the CCJS has worked to build bridges of mutual understanding and respect between Catholics and Jews, and all people of good will. Your gift helps us advance scholarship in Catholic-Jewish studies, and provides interreligious education to thousands of students, religious leaders, and members of the public.

Support the work of the CCJS

Rabbi David Maayan, the Cohn Visiting Chair in Jewish Thought and Assistant Director of the CCJS, and Rabbi Andres Kornworcel of Congregation Rodeph Sholom, explain aspects of the Jewish liturgical tradition to Christian attendees of the CCJS's Visit a Synagogue event on November 28th, 2023.

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