Since 2008, the Council has presented its Shevet Achim Award to persons who have made Outstanding Contributions to Jewish-Christian Understanding.
The title comes from the Hebrew text of Psalm 133:1 —
הִנֵּה מַה-טּוֹב וּמַה-נָּעִים שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד
Hinei ma tov u’manayim shevet achim gam ya-chad
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity!
The award graphic is used with the permission of the Catholic-Jewish Conference of Milwaukee. It was designed by Florence Bern, who was inspired by the words “we must build bridges between our faiths." The design includes the two most ancient symbols in Judaism and Christianity: the seven-branched candelabrum called the menorah, and the fish (the Greek word for fish, ICHTHYS, is an acrostic for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”) The arch between the menorah and the fish not only evokes the image of a bridge between us, but recalls the sign of the rainbow given to Noah after the flood as a sign of God’s covenant and promises to all human kind.
The menorah’s three branches from which the fish emerges evoke the Jewish tradition and teaching of the prophets that the world rests upon three things: justice, righteousness and deeds of loving kindness. The four flames represent the bringing of God's light throughout the world. For Christians, it also indicates that Christianity emerged from Judaism, but has neither exhausted the depths of Judaism nor superseded it. The artist explained that “the circle is not completed between Judaism and Christianity because there is yet work to be done to bring about the peace and justice of God’s rule to all the world.”
Leon Klenicki joined the Anti-Defamation League as director of Jewish-Catholic relations in 1973 and in 1984 became its director of interfaith affairs, a position he held until 2001. In these capacities he was an important voice of American Judaism over four decades of improving Catholic-Jewish relations after the Second Vatican Council. Rabbi Klenicki was the author and co-author of hundreds of books and papers dealing with the theological and practical aspects of improving relations between Christians and Jews. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI named him a Papal Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.
A native of Argentina, Rabbi Klenicki studied philosophy and classics at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1959, he won a scholarship to study at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he completed his rabbinical studies. He received a B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati as well as a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and a rabbinical diploma at HUC-JIR in 1967.
CCJR is honored to bestow its Shevet Achim posthumously to his widow, Myra Cohen Klenicki, on the occasion of the publication of Toward the Future: Essays on Catholic-Jewish Relations in Memory of Rabbi Leon Klenicki (Stimulus Books/Paulist Press).
John T. Pawlikowski, a priest of the Servite Order, serves as Professor of Social Ethics at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where he also directs the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program in the school's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Center. He served for six years as President of the International Council of Christians & Jews. He was also appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and reappointed for three successive terms by Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. He currently serves on the Governor's Commission for Holocaust and Genocide in his home state of Illinois.
He is the author/editor of more than fifteen books including The Challenge of the Holocaust for Christian Theology, Christ in the Light of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue, Jesus and the Theology of Israel, Biblical and Theological Reflections on The Challenge of Peace, Justice in the Marketplace: CTU’s Pastoral Commentary on the Bishops’ letter on the Economy, The Ecological Challenge: Ethical, Liturgical, and Spiritual Responses, Reinterpreting Revelation and Tradition: Jews and Christians in Conversation, Good and Evil after Auschwitz, and Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust.
A. James Rudin is Senior Interreligious Advisor for the American Jewish Committee. He had previously served since 1968 as the AJC's interreligious affairs director.
He is past Chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations. He has participated in meetings with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, in World Council of Churches conferences in Geneva, and is founder of the National Interreligious Task Force on Black-Jewish relations. A prolific writer, he writes weekly commentary for the Religion News Service and his articles have appeared in "Christianity Today," "The Christian Century," and "Eternity" magazines. He appears frequently on radio and television as an expert on Interreligious affairs.
His recent books include: Cushing, Spellman, O'Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations (2011); Christians & Jews, Faith to Faith: Tragic History, Promising Present, Fragile Future (2010); and The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us (2006).
Franklin Sherman is Founding Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding of Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. He began his teaching career at the School of Religion of the University of Iowa, teaching subsequently at Mansfield College, Oxford, England, and for 23 years at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where he served for ten years as Dean. He has been a visiting professor at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago as well as academic institutions in Switzerland, Israel, Zimbabwe, and Japan. His undergraduate degree is from Muhlenberg College and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and served for many years as chair of its Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations.
Dr. Sherman is author of The Promise of Heschel, a study of the Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel, as well as numerous essays and reviews in the field of Christian-Jewish relations. He edited and provided historical introductions and annotations for the volume of Luther‛s Works: American Edition that contains Luther‛s writings on the Jews and Judaism (Vol. 47). His current project is preparing an expected two-volume collection of the most significant statements on Christian-Jewish relations issued by Christian, Jewish, and interfaith bodies around the world since World War II. The first volume was published by Paulist Press in 2011, entitled Bridges: Documents of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue: The Road to Reconciliation (1945-1985).
Judith Hershcopf Banki is director for special programs at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York City.
A pioneer and veteran of Christian-Jewish relations, her work began before the Second Vatican Council when as an aide to Rabbi Marc Tannenbaum at the American Jewish Committee she coordinated pivotal studies in the presentation of Jews and other minorities in Catholic school textbooks. These studies were submitted to the Vatican and contributed to the development of its landmark declaration, Nostra Aetate. In the following decades, she has been a constant advocate for interreligious understanding in an enormous variety of programs and initiatives.
Her published and co-edited publications include: A Prophet of Our Time: An Anthology of the Writings of Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum (2002); Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust: Christian and Jewish Perspectives (2001); The Image of Jews in Christian Teaching (1986); Anti-Israel Influence in American Churches: A Background Report (1979); and Christian Responses to the Yom Kippur War: Implications for Christian-Jewish Relations (1974)
Eugene J. Fisher served for thirty years as the specialist in Catholic-Jewish relations at the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is currently the Distinguished Professor of Catholic-Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida.
He has published or edited some 20 books and over 250 articles in the field of Jewish-Christian relations, including: The Jewish Roots of Christian Liturgy, ed. (Paulist, 1990); Interwoven Destinies: Jews and Christians through the Ages, ed. (Paulist/Stimulus, 1992); Faith Without Prejudice: Rebuilding Christian Attitudes Toward Judaism (Crossroad, 1993); Visions of the Other: Jewish and Christian Theologians Assess the Dialogue, ed. (Paulist/Stimulus, 1994); A Prophet of Our Time: An Anthology of the Writings of Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum, ed. with Judith H. Banki (Fordham University Press, 2002). He also co-edited with Leon Klenicki The Saint for Shalom: How Pope John Paul II Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations (Crossroad, 2011) and edited Memoria Futuri: Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; Texts and Addresses of Cardinal William H. Keeler (Paulist/Stimulus, 2012).