On Monday, October 28, 2018 the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary hosted a group of Catholic priests from Israel, the US, Philippines, Australia, India and Europe for a day of study and fellowship. The priests spent the day in the Beit Midrash with the rabbinical students, studying biblical texts on the subject of treating the stranger among us kindly.
This is the second time this particular group has visited Schechter. The interfaith encounter was initiated by SRS student Raanan Malek and organized jointly with the Tantur Ecumenical Center. Tantur is a center for the study of Christianity, run by the Vatican and affiliated with the Notre Dame University. Tantur’s diverse programs expose students to Christianity in the Land of Israel and to Israel’s cultural mosaic. Many of Tantur students are active in Christian education in Israel or in their home countries.
“Our goal was to examine our shared texts, discover each others’ ways of interpreting them, overcome prejudice and build bridges between the Jewish people and catholic communities all over the world,” commented Rabbinical Seminary Dean Rabbi Avi Novis- Deutsch.
Frederik Mason, who led the Tantur group, added, “We wish to encounter others and understand them, thus reducing the tensions and misunderstandings between us. The dividing walls between cultures and nations are a thing of the past. Here, the participants kindled new friendships, learned more about their own faith, heard new perspectives, and explored Biblical text in greater depth. We met the “other,” we learned together, we connected, we saw each other for who we are.”
Mallek is studying for ordination at SRS. He has been active for in interfaith relations for several years, and has now found a way to integrate his interest in interfaith work with his Jewish scholarship and research.
The Schechter Rabbinical Seminary fosters dialogue on the topic of Jewish identity in Israeli society, and advocates an egalitarian and tolerant approach to Judaism. It offers a variety of programs and training for educators, rabbis and the general public. SRS trains women and men to become leaders with vision, wisdom and compassion. Its graduates serve as pulpit rabbis in synagogues, as academics in universities, as educators in camps, youth groups and informal education settings, as directors of pre-army preparatory programs, as spiritual caregivers in hospitals, and as advocates for the needy and disenfranchised in a variety of settings in Israel and abroad.