Newly Added Free Online Resources

Happy October!

I just added and published 30 additional free, online resources to the following pages under the Resources & Research section of my website:

May scholars, educators and students find the databases, journals, PDFs and websites listed throughout these pages helpful to their research, classes and studies!

Refugees: World War II and Now

On behalf of the Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program, it is my pleasure to announce and invite educators and other interested individuals to attend this year’s professional study day on March 8, 2017 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Nursing Amphitheatre (Room NU113) at Seton Hall University.


The theme for this year’s Teachers Study Day is Refugees: World War II and Now. In recent years the horrors of war and natural disasters have destroyed the life and livelihood of countless millions of people. Suddenly the survivors have become poor and homeless. Reviewing the history of Displaced Persons of that time, four experts will deepen participants’ awareness of the current situation of those who have fled from Syria, Iraq and other nations and will consider how this knowledge challenges us in 2017.

Featured keynote speaker Dr. Avinoam Patt will present “No Place for the Displaced: The Jewish Refugee Crisis Before, During, and After WWII” and “From Destruction to Rebirth: Holocaust Survivors and the Creation of the State of Israel.” Additionally, the study day will offer the following workshops:

  • Workshop 1: “Literature and the Holocaust,” led by Avinoam Patt, Ph.D.
  • Workshop 2: “Survivors and Holocaust Historiography in Israel: A Story of Awakening,” led by Monika Rice, Ph.D.
  • Workshop 3: “Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylees: Myths, Facts, and Challenges,” led by Maria Biancheri, M.P.P. and Jessica Ramirez, Esq.

About the Speakers:

Avinoam Patt (Ph.D., New York University) is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, where he is also director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization. Previously, he worked as the Miles Lerman Applied Research Scholar for Jewish Life and Culture at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Dr. Patt is the author of Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust; co-editor (with Michael Berkowitz) of a collected volume on Jewish Displaced Persons, titled We are Here: New Approaches to the Study of Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany; and is a contributor to several projects at the USHMM, including Jewish Responses to Persecution, 1938-1940. He is also director of the In Our Own Words interview project with the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and most recently, is co-editor of an anthology of contemporary American Jewish fiction entitled The New Diaspora: The Changing Face of American Jewish Fiction. Dr. Patt is currently co-editing a new volume on The JDC at 100 and writing a new book on the early postwar memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Maria Biancheri (M.P.P., Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) has worked for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark for over ten years. At present she is the Senior Grants Specialist. Currently Ms. Biancheri is also assisting Catholic Charities in setting up a resettlement program for refugees from Syria, The Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jessica Ramirez, Esq. (J.D., Seton Hall University) is Chief Immigration Counsel and Division Director for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark. She oversees their legal department of attorneys, staff, support services and all law office operations. Ms. Ramirez serves the immigrant community by preparing and delivering professional development presentations and workshops regarding the law and civil rights. She brings a wide ranging background in civil and criminal law to this work.

Monika Rice (Ph.D., Brandeis University) is an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University and at Gratz College in Philadelphia where she teaches courses on the Holocaust, Jewish-Christian relations and women’s spirituality. Her articles, book chapters and reviews have been published (or await publication) in edited volumes and academic journals (Yad Vashem Studies, Holocaust Studies, Polin, etc.), while her first book, “What! Still Alive?!” Jewish Survivors in Poland and Israel Remember Homecoming, will be published in the fall 2017 by Syracuse University Press. The book concerns the evolution of Holocaust survivors’ memories of their first encounters with Polish neighbors after the war as recorded in immediate postwar testimonies.

This program is specifically designed to assist educators in advancing or further developing their expertise in the area of Holocaust and genocide education. The program also fulfills the New Jersey legislative mandate that all students (K-12) learn about the Holocaust and other genocides and offers five professional development credit hours to participating educators.


This study day is sponsored financially by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust and Genocide Education and the Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher Endowment and is offered free of charge, including lunch, but you must register by March 1, 2017 at, where you can also access a full schedule of the event. If you are an educator, please provide the name of your school when registering.

I hope to see you on March 8th!

Ḥanukkah and Christmas

Because solar and lunar calendars usually differ by several weeks, only rarely does the minor eight-day festival of Ḥanukkah coincide exactly with December 25th in the Roman calendar. This year the two feasts that accentuate light triumphing over darkness will be celebrated at the same time.

In their deuterocanonical books preserved in the Greek Bible (1 Maccabees 4:36-59; 2 Maccabees 10:1-8), Catholic and Orthodox Christians find accounts of the purification of the Jerusalem Temple and restoration of Israelite worship with the prescription that “the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these days every year.” This is one of the seven special rabbinic commandments that is added to those of the Torah.

In ancient times appendices would be found at the beginning of a scroll, so a letter to Jews in Egypt recorded the legend of Nehemiah and priests who returned from the Babylonian Exile finding the “remnant” of sacred fire hidden by their ancestors. This burst into flame, showing that God accepted the sacrifice in the Second Temple on behalf of all the people of Israel (2 Maccabees 1:18-36).

In the late Aramaic “Scroll of the Hasmoneans,” the brief description of the Temple purification is followed by a search for pure oil to light the Menorah. “They… found only one bottle with the seal of the high priest so that they were sure of its purity. Though its quantity seemed sufficient only for one day’s lighting, it lasted for eight days owing to the blessing of the God of heaven who had established his Name there” (Philip Birnbaum, editor, Daily Prayer Book [New York, 1949] pp. 724-26). Thus, the tradition of the Ḥanukkah (eight-branched candlestick) developed with an emphasis on themes of light and freedom.

As long as the Temple stood, the reconsecration was the focus of these eight days. “The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter and Jesus walked about in the Temple area on the Portico of Solomon” (John 10:22-23). He linked this feast to the consecration that preceded his mission in the world (see John 10:36). Quoting Psalm 40:7-9, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews presented the coming of Jesus into the world as the foundation for the consecration of Christians to the service of God (Hebrews 10:5-10; see John 17:17-19).

In the Jewish liturgy, the eighteenth benediction, which celebrates God’s miracles and mercy, has an addition for the feast of Ḥanukkah. “We thank you for the miracles, for the redemption, for the saving deeds and mighty acts wrought by you, as well as the battles which you did wage for our ancestors in days of old, at this season.” This is followed by a brief account of the divine deliverance of the people and the cleansing of the Temple (Birnbaum, pp. 91-94).

As Christian communities throughout the world celebrate our Feast of Light, both Christians and Jews might join in praying for miracles of peace in the lands of the Bible and for mutual understanding to flourish everywhere so that people of our generation may become peacemakers in the service of God.

New Resources Page for Jewish-Christian Relations


Happy New Year! Best wishes to all for good health and happiness in 2016!

During this winter break, I recently added the new page, Online Resources for Jewish-Christian Relations, to the Research & Resources section of my website. The links listed here represent a cross section of resources that highlight various aspects of Jewish-Christian dialogue and/or relations. I will be adding to this list as we continue to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program through Fall 2016.

Here’s what’s new so far:

Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies Lecture Videos
A collection of lectures by the Cardinal Bea Centre of Judaic Studies at the Gregorian University is available for viewing on their YouTube channel.

Catholic-Jewish Relations Pastoral Letter Archbishop Gerety
Written in 1983 by the Most Reverend Peter L. Gerety during his tenure as Archbishop of Newark, this pastoral letter provides theological foundations for and a brief history of the development of Jewish-Christian relations since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate in 1965.

Center for Christian and Jewish Understanding (CCJU)
The CCJU website at Sacred Heart University provides links to principal documents and statements that have helped to chart and mark the direction and discussions of Christian-Jewish understanding and relations since the Second World War.

Maintained through the collaboration of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations and the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, this site provides a comprehensive cyber-archive of official statements, historic documents, educational resources, and current information.

Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies (ICJS) Articles
The ICJS, which is located in Baltimore, has published various articles by its scholars from 2012 to the present.

Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations (IJCR) Archive
The archive at Saint Joseph University’s IJCR has a collection of various materials, including videos, from their past events and directors’ presentations.

International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ)
ICCJ’s website contains several articles and statements that offer insights into the ongoing Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Kraft-Hiatt Program for Jewish-Christian Understanding
This College of the Holy Cross program provides online access to many of its past lectures, which visitors may stream online or download from iTunes for free.

Notre Dame de Sion
The Sisters of Our Lady of Sion’s website offers access to a vast collection of online resources, including Church documents, conferences, dossiers, links to the SIDIC Periodical and much more.

SelectedWorks of Reverend Lawrence E. Frizzell
Provides free access to scholarly work related to Jewish-Christian studies by Father Lawrence E. Frizzell, including articles; contributions to books, dictionaries and encyclopedias; conference papers; public statements; and his biblical commentaries on various books in both Jewish and Christian scriptures.

Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations
Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations is the open-access electronic journal of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations and is published by the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. The journal publishes peer-reviewed scholarship on the history, theology and contemporary realities of Jewish-Christian relations and reviews new materials in the field. The journal also provides a vehicle for exchange of information, cooperation and mutual enrichment in the field of Christian-Jewish studies and relations.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
The USCCB’s Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations, which later merged into the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has produced many documents in the development of Catholic-Jewish Relations in the United States.

Jesus and Jewish Prayer

As I have mentioned in previous posts, this Fall semester marks an important milestone as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Graduate Program in Jewish-Christian Studies. Our first commemorative event, “Jesus and Jewish Prayer,” will be held next Thursday on October 22, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

During this lecture Dr. Gregory Glazov will discuss, “The Lord’s Prayer in the Teaching of Jesus,” and I will present, “Jesus and the Shema, Phylacteries and Fringes.” All are invited to attend as the event is free and open to the public. Additional details about the lecture may be found below.

I hope you will join us in celebrating our program’s 40th anniversary!

Jesus & Jewish Prayer 2

Tribulations of the Patriarch Joseph and Jesus in Greek and Latin Piety


“Joseph’s Coat Brought to Jacob” by Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (c. 1640)

The dramatic account of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 37-50 has been the subject of many commentaries and reflections, by both Jews and Christians. How have the questions of crime and forgiveness been treated as a major theme by Christians?  From early texts the pious effort to interpret the biblical message into a coherent whole led to a link between Joseph and Jesus. How has this been developed in the first millennium of Christianity?

I examine some of these parallels in my paper, “Tribulations of the Patriarch Joseph and Jesus in Greek and Latin Piety,” which I presented at the Medieval Studies Congress (Kalamazoo, Michigan) in May 2005. Today I published the paper in PDF format on my SelectedWorks publications site. You can read the paper for free by clicking here.

Happy reading!

Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy: A Reflection from the Perspective of Dialogue


Drawing on Leviticus 25, the universal Church initiated the jubilee year in 1300. The pattern developed to celebrate a spiritual releasing from debts and the slavery of sin every 25 years, with special jubilees relating to the major anniversaries of the Death of Jesus in 1933 and 1983-84. Pope Francis has declared that an extraordinary jubilee of mercy will be celebrated from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King. The Second Vatican Council was closed by Blessed Paul VI on December 8, 1965, so Pope Francis looks back in gratitude and forward to the ways in which the Church should apply the balm of mercy to a needy world.

The bull announcing the Year of Mercy on April 11, 2015 offers a rich reflection on the divine attribute of ḥesed (lovingkindness, mercy) in the revelation of the ineffable Divine Name to Moses (Ex 34:6-7; see 3:14). “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) distills these attributes into one (see #8).

The reflection on God’s patience and mercy quotes Psalms 103:3-4; 146:7-9; 147:3, 6 to show “the grandeur of his merciful action” (#6). The litany Psalm 136 with its refrain “For his ḥesed endures forever” is important in the Jewish liturgy and was prayed by Jesus and the disciples after the Last Supper (#7).

The extensive reflection on the public ministry of Jesus avoids any contrast between “Law and Gospel” (#8-9); rather, the continuity of God’s plan to bring forgiveness and peace to the world is implicit throughout (see #17 with quotations from Micah 7:18-19 and Isaiah 58:6-11).

With the quotation of Hosea 6:6 in Matthew 9:13, Jesus offered “a liberating vision of mercy as a source of new life; Jesus was rejected by the Pharisees and the other teachers of the Law. In an attempt to remain faithful to the Law, they merely placed burdens on the shoulders of others and undermined the Father’s mercy” (#20). This document is not the place for a lengthy discussion of how Pharisees, especially in the House of Hillel, found ways to alleviate burdens brought by changing circumstances. However, phrases like “the Pharisees” might read “some Pharisees.” The paragraph ends: “The appeal to a faithful observance of the Law must not prevent attention from being given to matters that touch upon the dignity of the person.”

Appealing to Hosea’s dictum, “’I desire ḥesed and not sacrifice…’ Jesus affirms that, from that time onward, the rule of life for his disciples must place mercy at the center, as Jesus himself demonstrated by sharing meals with sinners…This is truly challenging to his hearers, who would draw the line at a formal respect for the Law. Jesus, on the other hand, goes beyond the Law; the company he keeps with those the Law considers sinners make us realize the depth of his mercy” (#20).

Coming to the apostle Paul, who pursued the justice of the Law with zeal (see Phil 3:6), Pope Francis states that “his conversion to Christ led him to turn that vision upside down…” The Greek term translated as “justice” would be rendered better as “righteousness,” the divine attribute that is in a creative tension with mercy as people strive to imitate God in their lives. Hosea is quoted at length (11:5-9) to “help us see the way in which mercy surpasses justice.” The next part of #21 gives the assurance that “God does not deny justice. He rather envelopes and surpasses it with an even greater event in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice.” For Christians, “God’s justice is his mercy given to everyone as a grace that flows from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.“ The reader must recall that this document is addressed primarily to Catholics, and here touches on themes about which, over the centuries, many saints and scholars have pondered at great length!

In generosity of spirit, the bull notes: “There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church…Israel was the first to receive this revelation (of God’s mercy) which continues in history as the source of an inexhaustible richness meant to be shared with all mankind.” Muslims “too believe that no one can place a limit on divine mercy because its doors are always open” (#23). This section ends with an appeal:

I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; may it eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination.

May people in many parts of the world take up this challenge for encounters and discussions that will bring a deeper understanding of the call to temper the search for justice with the blessing of mercy.

The Changing Relations between Christians and Jews

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the Twenty-First Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher Memorial Lecture at Seton Hall University on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

Keynote speaker, Robert L. Wilken, Ph.D., will present, The Changing Relations between Christians and Jews. Dr. Wilken received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and has taught at Gregorian University, Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Notre Dame, Fordham University and Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Throughout his long career as an educator specializing in early Christianity, Dr. Wilken has studied the relationship between Christians and their neighbors. His most recent work is The First Thousand Years. A Global History of Christianity (Yale University Press, 2013). As General Editor of the series, The Church’s Bible: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), Dr. Wilken and his team have made treasures of the distant past available to scholars and serious students alike.

The memorial lecture is free and open to the public.

For additional information and to RSVP for the event, please contact me at

21st JMO Lecture

New Facebook Page and Web Page

tree-200795_640The Fall 2014 semester began yesterday, and we have a wonderful new group of students who have matriculated into the Jewish-Christian Studies (JCST) Graduate Program at Seton Hall University.

The JCST program inaugurated this semester by launching a new Facebook page at where you can keep up to date on the exciting work of our program, faculty, students, and alumni as well as that of other scholars in Jewish-Christian studies and relations, ecumenical studies, and biblical research.

In a similar way, I have chosen to inaugurate the Fall 2014 semester by adding another new page, Online Biblical Hebrew Language Resources, to my website where you will find a list of free online resources designed to help students with Hebrew language studies.

Welcome new and returning students! May you be blessed with an insightful and life-changing semester!

Education by Example

Yom Hashoah candle

By Valley2city (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

I recently had the honor of presenting the keynote address at the Yom HaShoah Remembrance at the Diocese of Venice’s Epiphany Cathedral in Florida on May 4, 2014.

Below is a brief excerpt from this address, which you can read in its entirety here:

Scorning the biblical teaching that every human being comes from the same ancestry, denying the sublime statement that each of us is created in the image and likeness of the one God, Hitler divided the world between Nietzsche’s super-race and the lesser beings, some groups even less worthy of life than those designated to be slaves of the Teutonic race.  To counter this abominable theory, still influencing certain groups, even in this country, we recall the teaching of the Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin.  Looking at a pile of beautiful coins, a teacher exclaimed: “How great is the emperor who can make a hundred coins in his image, each exactly like the other!  How much greater is our God, who can make millions of human beings in his own image, and each of us is different!” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

We gather today shortly after the ancient Israelite feast of Passover, celebrated to our time as a perpetual memorial of the liberation of the twelve tribes from slavery in Egypt.  That departure in haste showed how the God of Abraham could triumph over the Pharaoh, who claimed divine authority over his kingdom and all its inhabitants.  Modern dictators have exhibited a similar megalomania.

During the Passover Meal each spring, the Jewish people remember this past event in a distant place with the conviction that this generation is the beneficiary of the wisdom and power, the goodness and mercy of God.  The event of Passover and Exodus was limited in time and space, but the divine attributes transcend the ages, so God’s hand may be experienced again and again.

In every generation every Jew must consider himself as one who came out of Egypt…“The Holy One, blessed be He, did redeem not only our ancestors but also us with them; as it is written; and he brought us out from there to bring us to the land He had promised to our ancestors.” (Passover Haggadah).

As in all the practices related to divine worship in the biblical heritage, the Passover Meal provides a context for education of the younger generation.  The Father tells the children gathered around the table: “This is what the Lord did for me as he brought me out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8).

In the light of this spiritual message, which has been incorporated into the tradition of Christianity as well, some people ask: why was God silent during the years of the Shoah?  Others ask: did God only seem to be silent?  Were people, even many of good will, perhaps deaf to the divine voice echoing down the millennia in the Word being proclaimed in worship?  Very cleverly, the Nazis allowed Christians to exercise piety by going to church, but attacked anyone who expressed a moral evaluation of their regime…

Read the full address.