Report on the Sixteenth Annual Meeting

Jewish Theological Seminary (the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue)
and Union Theological Seminary

New York City

Sunday, September 10 - Monday, September 11, 2017

JTS main webUTS NYwebThe Sixteenth Annual Meeting of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations was hosted by the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at Jewish Theological Seminary (left) in collaboration with Union Theological Seminary (right) on Sunday, September 10 and Monday, September 11, 2017.

The schedule for the meeting was as follows:

Sunday, September 10


2:00-4:00 pm CCJR Panel I: “The Experience of Female Muslim Scholar-Educators in Dialogue Today” (UTS)

The panelists conversed about what it means to be a Muslim woman and academician at this juncture in U.S. history when intergroup tensions have intensified.

  • Dr. Mehnaz Afridi (Manhattan College)
  • Dr. Jerusha T. Lamptey (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Moderator: Rabbi Dr. Burt Visotzky (Jewish Theological Seminary)

4:30 – 6:00 Public Keynote: “Freud’s Vienna Circle, Psychoanalysis, and Antisemitism” (UTS)

  • Dr. Pamela Cooper White (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Moderator: Dr. Mary Boys (Union Theological Seminary)

6:00-6:45 Public Reception (UTS)

7:00-8:30 CCJR Awards Dinner (JTS)

    Dinner courtesy of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at JTS.

    Shevet Achim honoree: Prof. Alice Eckardt

    Tributes by:

  • Dr. Mary C. Boys (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Rabbi Dr. Irving Greenberg (past president, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership)
  • Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit (Muhlenberg College)


Monday, September 11

8:00 Breakfast at JTS (CCJR Board Meeting at 7:30 over breakfast)

8:45-9:00 Meditative Moment: Sixteen Years after 9/11 (Dr. Celia Deutsch, Barnard College)

9:00-10:30: CCJR Panel II: “Today’s Use of ‘Judeo-Christian’ to Reinforce a ‘Clash of Civilizations’: Problems and Proposed Solutions”

How is the term “Judeo-Christian” being used as a term of exclusion in contemporary discourse? How is the term “Judeo-Christian” being used as a term of exclusion in contemporary discourse? How is the term reifying in the American imagination Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis? As scholars of Jewish-Christian relations, and practitioners of Jewish-Christian dialogue, what are our responsibilities/obligations to contextualize and problematize popular uses/understandings of the Jewish-Christian relationship?

  • Dr. Richard Bulliet (Columbia University)
  • Dr. Mark Silk (Trinity College, Hartford)
  • Response: Dr. Benjamin Sax (Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies)
  • Moderator: Dr. Heather Miller-Rubens (Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies)

10:45-11:45 CCJR Annual Business Meeting [actions taken noted in brackets]

      1. Welcomes and Recognitions (Ruth Langer, chair)

      2. Roll Call of Member Organizations [quorum achieved]

      3. Nominations Committee Report (Elena Procario-Foley): The committee reported that there were two seats open on the Board of Directors this year. Ruth Langer was completing her second term as chair. Kevin Spicer (Stonehill College) was nominated as her successor. Adam Gregerman's term as At-large Member was expiring and Ruth Sandberg (Gratz College) was nominated to succeed him. 

      4. Election of open Board of Directors seats. Kevin Spicer was unanimously elected as Chair until 2020. Ruth Sandberg was unanimously elected as At-large Member until 2020.

      5. 2018 meeting: Location and date TBD. [As of September 14, the Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange Committee at Providence College has volunteered to host the 2018 conference.]

      6. New Member Applications:

         a. Hebrew College: Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership.  Application approved unanimously after being moved by Elena Procario-Foley and seconded by Peter Pettit.

         b. Providence College: Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange Committee (JCTE). Application approved unanimously after being moved by Ron Simkins and seconded by Elena Procario-Foley.

     7. Membership modification:

         a. Splitting the Jay Phillips Center at Saint John’s University/ University of Saint Thomas into the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John’s University (directed by John Merkle) and the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of Saint Thomas (directed by Hans Gustafson). The request was approved unanimously after being moved by Victoria Barnett and seconded by Elena Procario-Foley.

     8. ICCJ Report (Phil Cunningham, Immediate Past President ): Phil reported that his term as ICCJ President expired at the ICCJ annual conference in Bonn, Germany in July. The ICCJ meeting was very successful. He also updated the membership on the forthcoming book, Promise, Land, and Hope: Resources for Constructive Dialogue about Israeli-Palestinian Issues, the result of an ICCJ six-year research project.  

     9. SCJR Report (Camille Markey, SCJR Managing Editor). In Vol. 11 (2016) the journal Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations published five peer-reviewed articles, one conference proceeding and 22 book reviews. In the current Vol. 12 (2017) the journal has so far published ten peer-reviewed articles, four reviews and the author's response to Amy-Jill Levine's Short Stories by Jesus, and 14 book reviews. In the publishing queue at present are four potential peer-reviewed articles and 15 books currently under review.  SCJR will make the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a special issue or section in the 2017 volume. Five authors have so far indicated they will submit articles for peer review.

    10. Webmaster’s Report (Phil Cunningham). Phil explained that the Board had approved a $6,000 expenditure for necessary updates to the website's server and content management software. It will be conducted by Dr. Daniel Michaels of Keypoppy Christian Resources, the CCJR's technical provider. Phil asked all members to double check their organization's information on the website. He also urged members to be careful when using the listserv not to include other addressees in postings and not to repeatedly send the same item through the list. Fiannly, all members were urged to send notices of upcoming events or institutional news to other Counicl members through the listserv.  

    11. Secretary/Treasurer’s Report (Phil Cunningham). The current report on Council finances and the proposed budget for 2017-2018 were approved unanimously after a correction offered by Peter Pettit. Motions moved by Burt Visotzky and seconded by Ellen Umansky.

    12. Chair’s Report (Ruth Langer). Ruth indicated it had been a quiet year in terms of matters brought before the Council and thanked the Board of Directors for their service and collegiality. The entire membership applauded Ruth's service as Chair for the last six years.

    13. Old Business: none.

    14. New Business: none.

12:00-1:00 Lunch (SCJR advisory board meeting over lunch)

1:00-2:30 CCJR Panel III: “Bilateral and Trilateral Approaches to Dialogue among Jews, Christians, and Muslims”

This panel discussed extending the lessons of Christian-Jewish dialogue to include dialogue with Islam as well. Various goals, structural approaches, and challenges were considered.

  • Dr. Philip A. Cunningham (Saint Joseph’s University)
  • Dr. Heather Miller-Rubens (Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies)
  • Rabbi Dr. Burton Visotzky (Jewish Theological Seminary)
  • Moderator: Dr. Adam Gregerman (Saint Joseph's University; substituting for Dr. Matthew Tapei from Saint Leo University, unable to attend due to Hurricane Irma)

 2:45-4:00 CCJR Panel IV: The View from Here: “Working for Racial Justice: Perspectives from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary”

  • Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay (Jewish Theological Seminary)
  • Professor Daisy L. Machado (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Professor Ruth Messinger (Jewish Theological Seminary; American Jewish World Service)
  • Professor John Thatamanil (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Professor Lisa Thompson (Union Theological Seminary)
  • Moderator: Dr. Ron Simkins (Creighton University)

4:00 Adjournment