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Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Annual Report
ctober 28, 1965 stands as a landmark date in
the history of Jewish-Catholic relations. On
that date, the Second Vatican Council, in response
to a call put forth by Pope John Paul XXIII, issued
a statement on Jews and Judaism,
Nostra Aetate.
This document provided a positive assess-
ment of the role played by the Jewish people
throughout history and decisively repudiat-
ed anti-Semitism. The spirit of openness
and dialogue found in its pages contained
a promise of hope and reconciliation, as
well as a recognition of the common her-
itage that forged both the Church and
the Synagogue. This document marked
the advent of a new era in Catholic-Jewish
relations, and the spirit of ecumenism, religious
tolerance, and appreciation that marked its pages
opened new avenues for Jewish-Catholic dialogue
and cooperation.
In the years that have passed since
Nostra Aetate
written, both HUC-JIR and Xavier University (XU)
have attempted to build on the promise and possi-
bility that the document provided. Xavier and
HUC-JIR have on occasion exchanged faculty,
allowed and encouraged students at one institution
to study at the other in fields as disparate as education
and business administration, and worked together on
exhibitions and common projects that testify to the
presence of God’s grace in our midst. It is with the
conviction that both the Catholic and Jewish tradi-
tions require that we do the work of the Divine in
this world that an exciting and unprecedented part-
nership between this great Catholic university and
this venerable Jewish seminary has been created.
XU and HUC-JIR have embarked upon a ground-
breaking collaboration – the first of its kind
between a Jewish seminary and a Jesuit university –
to create a Jewish and Interfaith Studies Program
that will be offered to undergraduates at Xavier and
to rabbinical and graduate students at HUC-JIR.
The creation of this joint program in Jewish and
Interfaith Studies will allow for the rich human and
intellectual treasures and programs that exist at each
of these schools of higher education to enrich the
lives of both. This unique collaboration symbolizes
the transformational visions and shared values of
the institutions’ two presidents, Father Michael
Graham and Rabbi David Ellenson.
This partnership can serve as a beacon to all
persons in Cincinnati and beyond as to how these
religious traditions can and do promote the life-
affirming qualities inherent in each,” said Rabbi
Ellenson. “It will provide a potent assertion that
what unites Catholics and Jews as persons of faith
is far more significant than those issues that differ-
entiate us, for each tradition and its adherents seek
to worship and serve God.”
The lead gift for this initiative is an inaugural gift
of $750,000 from the Macy’s Foundation, which
was announced on September 4, 2008, when Tom
Cody, Macy’s Divisional Vice Chairman, met with
Father Graham and Rabbi Ellenson. Don Stone,
Governor Emeritus, has also supported this
groundbreaking project.
A Steering Committee consisting of HUC-JIR
and XU faculty and administration will determine
annual course offerings at both institutions and
oversee assessment of courses and instructors,
consistent with the two institutions’ policies and
procedures. The first phase of the program, which
began during the 2008-09 academic year, has
Fostering a New Era in
Catholic-Jewish Relations
From left) Rabbi Kenneth E. Ehrlich, Dean, HUC-JIR/Cincinnati; James A.
Miller, Bartlett and Company, Tribute Dinner Corporate Council Co-Chair;
Michael J. Graham, S.J., President of Xavier University; Patty and Louis
Beck, Tribute Dinner Co-Chairs; Rabbi Ellenson; and Kevin Kabat, CEO,
President and Chairman of Fifth Third Bank, Tribute Dinner Honoree
From left) Thomas Cody,
Vice Chair of Macy’s,
Tribute Dinner Honorary
Co-Chair; Mary Ellen
Cody; and Rabbi Ellenson