The Feast of Shavuot (Weeks) = Pentecost

Moritz Daniel Oppenheim: “Shavuot (Pentecost) (Das Wochen- oder Pfingst-Fest)”

Seven weeks after Passover and the exodus from Egypt, the twelve tribes came to Mount Sinai and prepared to respond to the divine call to enter the bilateral Covenant. In this way they became a holy nation (GOY) (Exodus 19:6), receiving the commandments and destined to progress toward their own land wherein they would be free to serve the living God.

The annual eight-day festival brought Jews and converts to Judaism to Jerusalem during the time that Judea was ruled by the Roman procurator. The proclamation of the Book of Ruth challenged the listeners to find room for the stranger in their midst. The Acts of the Apostles (2:1-41) offers a description of the Christian community’s message to the world represented by the participants in this feast of unity. This editorial of the NJ Jewish News draws attention to the reverberations of this theme for the Jewish people of our time:

Jewish and Christian calendars coincide this year, so both communities draw attention to the Torah and its Decalogue, the Ten Words that provide the principles for life in community. For Christians this is “the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:2) challenging us to foster unity in our response to the divine will. May both communities foster the insights into God’s gift of peace for all creation, calling for our obedience!

No Anti-Jewish Bigotry in Catholic Churches

A Polish historian with extreme “revisionist” views on Polish-Jewish relations during the World War II period was scheduled to speak in a number of parish churches in the New York area this coming weekend. An alert group of Catholics and other people of good will wrote to the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, to request that local churches not be the place for such lectures. Subsequently, Cardinals Dolan, Tobin and Cupich in the Archdiocese of New York, Newark and Chicago have cancelled these events in their parish churches. The people inviting such a speaker may find another space, but unsuspecting parishioners won’t be subjected to a bigoted message.

In the 1980s the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies sponsored several lectures on World War II and the Shoah (the Holocaust). Each time when the topic involved the situation in Poland, a group in the audience would launch an abusive attack on the speakers during the question period. Even Professor Jan Karski, the heroic Polish witness in 1942 and the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt were not respected!

It is very sad that a generation later these expressions of bitter hatred have been linked to current political issues in Poland and elsewhere. Scholarly exchanges do not seem to be feasible in this situation. So for now we can only pray for reconciliation and healing of memories. May continued vigilance by people of good will on the local level continue so that the title of this post will remain accurate!

Police in the Nazi Period and Now

A policeman (left) and his dog on street patrol side-by-side with a Nazi auxiliary.

The Jewish-Christian Studies Graduate Program is hosting the professional study day, “Police in the Nazi Period and Now,” on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at Seton Hall University. The event is offered free of charge, including lunch, but you must register at


The role of the police in a society has been defined in a way that is distinct from the nation’s armed services. When Sir Robert Peel was Home Secretary of England, the Metropolitan Police Force was created in 1829. For almost two centuries the “bobby” has been honored in England, but for the Irish the “peeler” was less than beloved!

How were the police in Nazi Germany and occupied lands perceived by minorities and others who refused to collaborate in building the Third Reich? How did the ordinary police differ from the infamous secret police (Gestapo)?

Our first speaker, Dr. Peter Black, will review the tragic history of police action in Europe of the Nazi period. The second speaker, Dr. Maria Haberfeld, will focus on police education in the United States and describe some of the ways police departments interact with local communities.

The program is an accredited service provider in the State of New Jersey. Therefore all participating teachers will receive 5 “credit hours” for their participation. You can access the full agenda at

About the Speakers

Peter R. Black, Ph.D. is retired from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he served as Senior Historian from 1997-2016. Previously he served as Chief Historian for the Office of Special Investigations, Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice (1978-1997). Dr. Black published Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich (1984) and has written several articles and chapters in books. Since 2016 he has been active as an independent historian and consultant.


Maria (Maki) Haberfeld, Ph.D. is Professor of Police Science in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. She received the Master of Arts in Criminology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her publications include Critical Issues in Police Training (2002), Contours of Police Integrity (co-editor, 2003), Police Leadership (2005), Introduction to Policing: The Pillar of Democracy (co-authored, 2014), and other books, including three on terrorism.

Vicious Attack on Jewish Community

The members of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies express our deep sorrow on learning of the terrible attack on the Tree of Life congregation at prayer on this past Sabbath!  We join our sentiments with the statement below by Seton Hall’s Interim President.

The Jewish communities in Pittsburgh have been at the forefront of sustained efforts to reach the younger generation in Catholic and Jewish schools, along with service to the wider community.

Jewish-Christian Studies and many other programs at Seton Hall University strive explicitly to implement the teachings of the Church on Judaism and the Jewish people in the classroom and beyond. May all people of good will reach out to their neighbors who express anti-Jewish bigotry in words before anyone moves into deeds of terror.  May hatred be replaced with a common search for justice and peace!

Jewish Responses to the Catholic Church’s New Teachings on Judaism

Pope John Paul II and Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher

In commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies (IJCS), Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, Ph.D. will present “Come Let Us Reason Together: Jewish Responses to the Catholic Church’s New Teachings on Judaism” at the 25th Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher Memorial Lecture on Thursday, October 25, 2018, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Seton Hall University.

Established in 1953 at Seton Hall by Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher, the IJCS is the oldest academic institution in the world dedicated to Catholic-Jewish relations and is the founder of the only Jewish-Christian studies graduate program in the United States. Every year the IJCS hosts a memorial lecture to celebrate the strengthening of Catholic-Jewish relations and remembers the commitment of Msgr. Oesterreicher to interreligious dialogue through his work on Vatican Council II’s “Statement on the Church’s Bond to the Jewish People” within paragraph four of Nostra Aetate. This watershed document laid the foundation for positive Jewish-Christian relations and influenced the work of countless individuals as well as episcopal conferences and bishops throughout the world.

We are honored to have Rabbi Dr. David Fox Sandmel as the keynote speaker at this year’s Memorial Lecture. Since 2014 Rabbi Sandmel has served as Director of Interreligious Engagement at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Before that he held the Crown-Ryan Chair in Jewish Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and was Judaic Scholar at the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies in Baltimore, where he managed the project that produced “Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity.” This document was the work of four scholars and was endorsed by Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis and scholars.

Rabbi Sandmel is also an editor of Christianity in Jewish Terms and Irreconcilable Differences? A Learning Resource for Jews and Christians, and his commentary on First Thessalonians appears in The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

I do hope you will join us for this special evening, which the IJCS is sponsoring in partnership with the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust and Genocide Education.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Jubilee Amphitheatre in Jubilee Hall at Seton Hall University. To RSVP and learn more, please register here or call us at 973.761.9751.

The Church and Interfaith Relations

Pope Francis and the Roman Curia on December 21, 2017. 
Photo: Vatican website, Christmas address to the Roman Curia.

Pope Francis addressed the Roman Curia with his Christmas message on December 21, 2017. He reflected on the Curia in its relationship with the nations, “with the Particular Churches (i.e. dioceses), with the Oriental Churches with ecumenical dialogue, with Judaism, with Islam and other religions – in other words, with the outside world.

Near the end of the address, the pope remarked:

The relationship of the Roman Curia to other religions is based on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the need for dialogue. “For the only alternative to the civility of encounter is the incivility of conflict”.[26] Dialogue is grounded in three fundamental lines of approach: “The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, the courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions. The duty to respect one’s own identity and that of others, because true dialogue cannot be built on ambiguity or a willingness to sacrifice some good for the sake of pleasing others. The courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all. Sincerity of intentions, because dialogue, as an authentic expression of our humanity, is not a strategy for achieving specific goals, but rather a path to truth, one that deserves to be undertaken patiently, in order to transform competition into cooperation”.[27]

My meetings with religious leaders during the various Apostolic Visits and here in the Vatican, are a concrete proof of this.

In this passage Pope Francis refers to his Address to Participants at the International Peace Conference held at the Al-Azhar Conference Centre in Cairo, Egypt on April 28, 2017. Readers will be interested in this important text.

Wishing all who celebrate a very blessed and joyous Christmas!

[26] Address to Participants at the International Peace Conference, Al-Azhar Conference Centre, Cairo, 28 April 2017.

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.