Report on the First Annual Meeting Print E-mail

Center for Continuing Formation, Baltimore

October 27-28, 2002

Sunday, October 27


Adoption of the Bylaws

The first business meeting of the CCJR was conducted by the outgoing Steering Committee, chaired by John Pawlikowski. Revised Bylaws were proposed and unanimously accepted. The revisions were designed to assist in the incorporation process, the final step for CCJR membership in the International Council of Christians and Jews [ICCJ].


Steering Committee (L to R:) Philip Cunningham, John Pawlikowski, Barry Cytron, Franklin Sherman


The Board of Directors was then elected. The slate proposed by the Steering Committee was unanimously approved:

  • Chair: Peter Pettit, Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, Muhlenberg College
  • Vice-Chair: Barry Cytron, Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning, University of St. Thomas/St. John's University
  • Sec'y-Treas: Philip Cunningham, Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College
  • At-large Member: Lois Sculco, National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, Seton Hill University
  • At-large Member: Racelle Weiman, Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati

Membership Applications

Applications for Affiliate Memberships and Liaison Representatives were then voted upon and unanimously accepted:

Affiliate Members

  • Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Dialogue Group of Jews and Christians - Central Committee of German Catholics, Augsburg, Germany
  • The SIDIC Centre, Rome, Italy

Liaison Representatives

  • American Jewish Committee, New York City, New York
  • Anti-Defamation League, New York City, New York
  • National Council of Synagogues, Needham, Massachusetts
  • Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.

New Business

Several topics were discussed in a preliminary way and referred to the Board of Directors for further work. These included: possible collaboration with the National Workshops on Jewish-Christian Relations, the need for a webmaster for, the Faith and Freedom organization that is being formed to promote accurate information about the Middle-east, and invitations from the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education and the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel to participate in planned educational projects.


The business meeting was followed by remarks from three centers on their perspectives on Christian-Jewish relations. Christopher Leighton told of the experiences of the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies in Baltimore, Peter Zaas spoke about events in the Albany area and the Hayyim Kieval Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies at Siena College, and Barry Cytron described the origins and activities of the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning, which is co-sponsored by the University of St. Thomas and St. John's University in Minnesota.

(L to R:) Christopher Leighton, Peter Zaas, Barry Cytron


Monday, October 28


The morning began with a stimulating exchange between David Berger of Brooklyn College and Michael Signer of the University of Notre Dame on "Dabru Emet: Sic et Non." The session was presided over by Peter Pettit, newly elected CCJR chair. Prof. Berger explained his reservations with Dabru Emet, focusing especially on the question of avodah zarah - whether the Jewish tradition considers Christianity to be engaged in "strange worship." He also observed that the current unrest in the Mideast heightens the importance and questions the accuracy of Dabru Emet's claim that Christians can affirm the importance of the Land of Israel for Jews. Prof. Signer, one of the four authors of Dabru Emet, characterized the eight statements within that document as inviting readers to decide "sic et non," to engage them in the challenge of reacting to major changes in Christian teaching about Jews and Judaism.


(L to R:) Michael Signer, David Berger, Peter Pettit



Edward Kessler, director of the Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations at Cambridge University, offered a presentation on how distance learning in Christian-Jewish relations is being offered over the Internet by his university. He generously provided CDs to provide a "tour" of how their Master's degree program functions. His remarks stimulated conversation about how colleges and universities in the United States might collaborate with and/or avail themselves of this valuable resource.


Edward Kessler


The first annual meeting concluded with brainstorming about the future activities of the CCJR and a discussion about its imminent full membership in the International Council of Christians and Jews. Friedhelm Pieper, ICCJ executive secretary and John Pawlikowski, ICCJ president, discussed ICCJ activities and plans, including the 2003 meeting in Utrecht and a possible 2005 meeting in Chicago.

First CCJR Chair, Peter Pettit and ICCJ General Secretary, Friedhelm Pieper

The brainstorming discussion about CCJR initiatives included the following:

  • sharing information on speakers, programming, resources
  • stimulating local dialogues
  • encouraging future scholars in the field
  • defining the study of Christian-Jewish relations and its very aspects
  • developing research in needed areas, such as fundamentalisms, Eretz Israel
  • forming partnership and networks to overcome the isolation felt by many in the work
  • contributing to substantial, academic scholarship
  • networking with ecclesial and synagogal organizations, e.g., NADEO
  • providing catalog of centers, personnel, resources, etc.
  • preparing for major event(s) surrounding the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate in 2005.

The Second Annual CCJR meeting will occur on October 26-27, 2003 in the Boston area. Details to be announced.