Pioneer in Interfaith Relations to Address Modern Catholic-Jewish Relations, at Assumption
Internationally recognized scholar Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, will deliver Assumption College’s annual Rabbi Joseph Klein Memorial Lecture in Judaic Studies at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 19, on campus, 500 Salisbury St. Yoffie’s lecture will focus on “New Challenges and Old Issues: Jewish-Catholic Relations 50 Years after Nosta Aetate.” It will take place in the Salon of La Maison Française and is free and open to the public.
A Worcester native and expert on modern Israel, Rabbi Yoffie was president (1996-2012) of the Newton, Mass.-based Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in North America, which represents 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues across the United States and Canada. He is a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz and writes regularly for TIME magazine, The Huffington Post, and The Jerusalem Post.
The Latin Nostra Aetate translates to “In Our Time,” and is taken from the first two words of the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 Declaration on the Church’s Relationship Non-Christian Religions. It was the first statement ever of its kind by an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church and largely dealt with relations between Catholics and Jews.
“Through this lecture at Assumption, Rabbi Yoffie’s audience should come away with greater knowledge and deepened appreciation of the advances in Catholic-Jewish relations at many levels that have taken place in the 50 years since Nostra Aetate,” said Assumption Professor Marc LePain, acting director of the College’s Ecumenical Institute, which is the sponsor of the Rabbi Klein Lecture.
Rabbi Yoffie has presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and launched Movement-wide dialogue programs with both Christians and Muslims. In 2005, Yoffie was the first Jew to address the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. In 2006, at the invitation of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, he was the first rabbi to address a convention of students and faculty at Liberty University. Yoffie was the first leader of a major Jewish organization to speak at the 2007 convention of the Islamic Society of North America. He has appeared on FOX News, CNN, and many other TV programs. His writing about American religion, interreligious dialogue, and Israel and the Middle East has been widely published in the national media.
Rabbi Yoffie holds an honorary degree from Assumption. In 2000, he delivered the Rabbi Klein Lecture on the day Pope John Paul II visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. A March 25, 2000, New York Times article referenced that groundbreaking address at Assumption.
Assumption’s Rabbi Klein Lecture in Judaic Studies was established in 1977 through gifts from friends at Temple Emanuel, and commemorates Rabbi Klein’s 30 years of service as a spokesman for interfaith cooperation in Worcester. The annual lecture program brings an outstanding scholar and teacher in the field of Judaic Studies to address the community on some aspect of historical Judaism as it relates to the Judeo-Christian tradition, and thus to perpetuate the dedication to higher learning and interfaith dialogue that characterized Rabbi Klein’s years of service in Worcester.
Previous speakers from this academic year’s Ecumenical Institute Lecture Series were:
- Khaled Anatolios, professor of historical theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, who delivered the annual Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan Lecture in October 2014.
- Fr. Richard Lamoureux, A.A., former superior general of the Augustinians of the Assumption, who delivered the Emmanuel d’Alzon Lecture in November 2014.
- Sandra Keating of Providence College, consultor to the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims, who delivered the St. Marie- Eugénie Milleret Lecture in February 2015.
Kimberly Dunbar, Director of Public Affairs, Assumption College