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AJC's Interreligious Affairs Timeline

1910-1919 1930-1939 1950-1959 1970-1979 1990-1999
1920-1929 1940-1949 1960-1969 1980-1989 2000-2010






1910-1919

1910 November. In its fourth Annual Report, AJC recognizes the importance of positive interreligious relations by praising the work of Christian organizations speaking out against prejudice and anti-Semitism. In particular, it notes the "enlightened resolution of protest" against Russian anti-Semitism issued May 24 by the Presbyterian Assembly, and in October by the American Convention of the Episcopal Church. Additionally, it notes that the New York Baptist Ministers Conference, at a regular session, held on June 6, 1910, "unanimously approved of the resolution of protest against the Russian persecution, introduced into the House of Representatives."

1915 – December 30. AJC submits a petition to Pope Benedict XV calling on him to exercise his influence "to ameliorate the conditions of the Jews in the Eastern war zone, insofar as this condition was due to the unfriendly attitude of the Poles who are, in the main, members of the Roman Catholic Church." The petition includes the words, "We recall with admiration and gratitude that on many occasions in the past some of the revered predecessors of Your Holiness have under like conditions extended protection to those of the Jewish faith, in the interest of right and justice."

1916 – February 9. Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, Vatican secretary of state, responds to the Pontiff in a letter categorized by the AJC as "a virtual encyclical against anti-Jewish prejudices." In it, the cardinal writes that the pope, as head of the Catholic Church, "considers all men as brethren and teaches them to love one another; he will not cease to inculcate the observances among individuals as among nations of the principles of natural right, and to reprove every violation of them."

1920-1929

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1921 AJC praises the quadrennial convention of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ, attended by representatives of 30 denominations and 150,000 churches, for adopting the resolution: "Whereas, for sometime past there have been in circulation in this country publications tending to create race prejudice and arouse animosity against our Jewish fellow-citizens, and containing charges so preposterous as to be unworthy of credence, be it resolved that the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, impressed by the need at this period of our nation for unity and brotherhood, deplores all such cruel and unwarranted attacks upon our Jewish brethren and in a spirit of goodwill, extends to them an expression of confidence in their patriotism and good citizenship."
1921 January. After the AJC distributes copies of a Jewish statement condemning the spread of the anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to men and women in public life throughout the United States, a statement is published and signed by 119 "distinguished American Christians" deploring such anti-Jewish actions. The petition, whose first three signatories are Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and William Cardinal O'Connell, is entitled, "The Peril of Racial Prejudice," and begins with these words: "The undersigned citizens of Gentile birth and Christian faith view with profound regret and disapproval the appearance in this country of what is apparently an organized campaign of anti-Semitism...."

1927 January 10. AJC President Louis Marshall begins a series of correspondence with Augusta Stetsan, head of NewYork radio station WHAP, who, based on her interpretation of Christian Science beliefs, supported anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic radio pronouncements. In his letter Marshall quotes the prophet Malachi: "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us all? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?" As a result of this exchange, AJC reports that the anti-Jewish radio condemnations are brought to an end.

1928 September. In one of the most shameful incidents of anti-Jewish prejudice in American history, the mayor of Messena, New York, after the reported disappearance of a four-year-old girl (eventually found, lost in a nearby woods), directs a state trooper to interrogate the rabbi and the Jewish community to ascertain whether Jews perform human sacrifice in conjunction with Yom Kippur, which was to begin that evening. A public letter from AJC to the mayor galvanizes public opinion against such ignorance and prejudice. Other organizations, such as the "Commission on Good Will Between Jews and Christians," condemn these unfounded beliefs, and a stirring New York Sun editorial on October 4 praises the leadership of AJC President Louis Marshall as an American who takes the lead to fight such evil. The paper writes that "somewhere in the blackest abyss of the Dark Ages malice and stupidity contrived to invent this slander against the Jews."

1929 AJC raises questions about the movie King of Kings – a film about the life of Jesus that includes anti-Semitic stereotypes, which stir up anti-Jewish feeling. As a result, members of AJC's executive committee attend a private screening, along with handpicked Jewish scholars, and make recommendations—accepted by the filmmakers—to improve the movie. Film distributors also make the decision, based on AJC input, not to show the film in certain parts of the world where it might feed the flames of rising anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish policies.

 

1929 Theatrical producers in the United States announce plans to produce the Frieburg Passion Play. AJC distributes background material to Christian leaders, influencing many of them join with AJC to protest any production that encourages anti-Semitic stereotypes. The Committee on International Friendship of the Federation of Churches issues a statement that, "any such presentation which attaches blame to the Jews of today for a crime committed centuries ago is most reprehensible."
 
1929 May. The Committee on Good Will Between Jews and Christians, under the Federated Council of Churches of Christ in America, begins a correspondence with AJC regarding the issue of proselytization—and Jewish fears that the committee is a tool for missionary activity. AJC President Louis Marshall replies that the strongest Jewish relations will come when Christians seek to make their people better Christians, and Jews seek to make theirs better Jews. As a result of AJC's correspondence, the committee issues a statement that it does not favor conversionist efforts by Christian churches.

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1930-1939

1932 AJC begins a three-year pioneer program with Drew Theological Seminary aimed at removing bias and prejudiced teachings from religious textbooks.

1936 December. AJC commends the appeal issued by representatives of the five synods of the American Lutheran Conference, deploring anti-Semitism as incompatible with the doctrines of the Bible and the teachings of the Lutheran Church. 

1937 January. At its Annual Meeting, AJC forcefully condemns anti-Semitism as an attack on America, not just an attack on Jews. "Anti-Semitism is a manifestation of the spirit of dictatorship, which first attacks the weakest—the Jews—and then proceeds to destroy all liberty." Along with the condemnation of anti-Semitism, AJC commends the "Good Will Movement" in America that crosses religious lines, symbolized by organizations such as the National Conference of Christians and Jews and its sponsorship of Brotherhood Day. The third annual Brotherhood Day in America, in 1937, culminates in a radio address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, which includes words from Catholic leader Michael Francis Doyle of Philadelphia and AJC President Cyrus Adler.

1938 As anti-Semitism increases in the world, AJC continues to commend and work with the Christian and interfaith organizations that take strong stands against prejudice. In the 1938 Annual Report, AJC recognizes the threat, but applauds the fact that American public opinion—with the help of many church leaders, as well as the general press—continues to stand against the policies of "the Nazi regime in Germany." AJC specifically commends the May protest of George Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago and the open letter to Hitler written by the Rev. Charles MacFarland, general secretary emeritus of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States. When AJC protests a New York Catholic publication that links Jews to communism, providing background material to dispute the claim, the editor retracts his comments. When the National Conference of Christians and Jews holds an institute on "Unifying Influences in a Democracy," AJC representative James N. Rosenberg speaks on the subject of "Group Defamation and Freedom of Speech." AJC's recognition of the importance of positive interreligious relations is stressed when it notes that, while it "does not minimize anti-Semitism," it is "heartened... by the fact that our Christian neighbors... are busily engaged in ever-extending efforts to spread the message of good will between Jews and Christians, and to awaken comprehension of the fact that anti-Semitism is only a spearhead for attacks on all religion."

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1940-1949

1943 NBC requests AJC assistance in setting up a Jewish religious radio series to be sponsored by the Jewish Theological Seminary. The first series of thirteen broadcasts about famous "Synagogues of History" is so successful that NBC requests AJC's cooperation in a new series of thirteen broadcasts to dramatize the lives of Jews who have made significant contributions to civilization.
 
1943 In addition to AJC work to identify and eliminate anti-Jewish references in Christian religious teaching materials, a similar study of Jewish textbooks that might strengthen anti-Christian prejudice is initiated. AJC publishes the findings of the committee headed by Rabbi Leo Jung and announces that publishers are taking steps to correct problems that have been identified.

1944 AJC's report on "Domestic Public Relations" notes a major change in strategy regarding public awareness initiatives. Whereas past attempts utilized a "mass approach," now increased attention would be given to a "class approach" – special efforts and initiatives targeting particular groups, such as labor, industry, veterans, and religious leaders and communities. One example is the assignment to the Boston's "Governor Saltonstall's Committee for Racial and Religious Understanding" of the preparation of teaching materials primarily aimed at Catholic and Protestant religious school students.

1945 AJC announces the appointment of Rabbi Arthur Rosenbaum as AJC director of interfaith activities "to improve and make more effective the AJC's activities in the field of interfaith cooperation between Protestant, Catholic, and
Jewish groups." Among his interfaith accomplishments, Rabbi Arthur Rosenbaum is former chairman of the weekly radio broadcast of the Binghamton Round Table, sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

1948 – March and April. AJC presents two nationwide Passover radio programs. The first, "The Forgotten Letter," the story of the first Passover celebration in America, held in New Amsterdam in 1655. The second presents Rabbi Arthur Rosenbaum, AJC director of interfaith activities, and Cantor Arthur Putterman and the choir of the New York Park Avenue Synagogue, in a program including an explanation of Passover symbols and singing of traditional Seder songs.
Photo: Rabbi Arthur Rosenbaum at microphone, and Cantor Putterman to left, in front of choir, recording the April 22 AJC Passover program for CBS network radio.
 
1948 – September. AJC announces that three AJC Interfaith Fellowships will be made available for Christian ministers who have displayed promise in the field of Hebrew scholarship, and who plan to teach in Christian theological seminaries. The fellowships will be available for study at Hebrew Union College.


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1950-1959

1951 Rabbi Morris Kertzer joins AJC as director of the Interreligious Division. A former Jewish chaplain with the American armed forces that liberated Rome, he helped conduct the first service held at Rome's synagogue in the days after Allied liberation in 1944.
Photo: Rabbi Kertzer leads a Seder for the AJC Films and Television production, "Tell Thy Sons," for CBS-TV.
 
1951 AJC announces that, while examination of Christian materials for prejudicial content will continue to be a priority, its emphasis will now shift to establishing lines of communication with Christian leadership education groups. As AJC's "Highlights of 1951" report notes, "Our scientific studies make it clear that not only the curriculum materials, but the attitudes of those who attempt to use the materials are vital in the education of young children."
 
1951 – November. AJC produces the first-ever TV broadcast of a complete Jewish worship service. Rabbi Morris Kertzer conducts the service, broadcast by WPIX from Temple Israel in New York City, which includes a sermon by Rabbi Dr. William Rosenblum, and chanting by Cantor Harold Orbach, cantor of Temple Israel in New Rochelle. The service is broadcasted on November 11, as a special Armistice Day program. AJC will coordinate two additional broadcasts in the series: a November 18 confirmation service, and a November 25 interfaith Thanksgiving service.
Photo: Rabbi Kertzer in army uniform, with Rabbi Rosenblum.

1952 AJC seeks clarification of Catholic doctrine on the Jews from Father Louis Hartman, the general secretary of the Catholic Bible Association. In an historic statement, Fr. Hartman says there is "no basis for the claim that the Jews as a people were responsible for the death of Christ."
 
1952 Through the initiative of the AJC, and with the help of an AJC grant, Yale University Divinity School launches a two-year survey to determine the extent of racial and religious bias and prejudice in Protestant church literature in use in the United States. At the same time, AJC is one of the Jewish agencies working with the National Council of Churches of Christ's newly formed Department of Intergroup Education to plan and execute special leadership training courses for ministers and religious educators.

1956 Rabbi Morris Kertzer leads the first delegation of American rabbis to the Soviet Union.

1957 An AJC delegation is the first Jewish group to receive a private audience with Pope Pius XII in the eighteen years of his pontificate. In a formal statement, the Pope recognizes the importance of AJC's work, condemns discrimination of all kinds including anti-Semitism and urges the countries of the world to provide havens to victims of persecution. The delegation also meets with Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals.
 
1957 At the April AJC Annual Meeting—the fiftieth anniversary of AJC— an interreligious forum includes presentations by Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.; the Rev. Dr. John Coleman Bennett, dean of the faculty, Union Theological Seminary; Fr. Neil G. McCluskey, S.J., associate editor of America; Rabbi Morris Adler, Detroit; and the Rev. Laurence J. McGinley, S.J., president, Fordham University.

1959 – April. At the Annual Meeting, the AJC American Civil Liberties Medallion is presented to Father John LaFarge, S.J. A past editor (1944-48) of the Catholic weekly magazine America and a continuing contributor, in recognition of his role as one of America's leading Catholic voices in the fight for interreligious and interracial justice.
Photo: Fr. LaFarge accepts the medallion from Judge Joseph Proskauer, honorary AJC president.
 
1959 After Pope John XXIII convenes the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Vatican officials invite AJC to submit suggestions and findings based on scholarly studies in the area of Christian-Jewish relations.

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1960-1969

1960 – May. As part of AJC's ongoing condemnation of anti-Catholic protests against John F. Kennedy's campaign for president, the AJC Committee Reporter includes an article on "Bigotry and the Presidency," written by AJC Program Director David Danzig. The article is reprinted by two influential Catholic publications, Commonweal and Our Sunday Visitor. Later, John F. Kennedy, Jr., praises AJC's position: "During the 1960 election, when my father's Catholicism was a great issue in the campaign, the AJC was one of the first to come forward and support the right of his candidacy, and it made a great deal of difference in changing sentiments."

1960 AJC supports studies of Protestant texts undertaken by the Yale Divinity School; and Catholic texts by the St. Louis Divinity School. These studies help identify problems—and lay out steps to deal with them.
1961 Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, a distinguished leader in interreligious and social justice issues, joins AJC as director of interreligious affairs. (Photo to right.)
 
1961 At its April Annual Meeting, the AJC notes that, with the election of America's first Catholic President, "The year 1960 will probably be recorded in future history books as one in which religious pluralism in America was sorely tried and emerged victorious."
 
1961 – June 22. AJC submits the first of three memoranda to the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, headed by Cardinal Augustin Bea, dealing with the negative images of the Jew in Catholic schoolbooks. Building on earlier AJC work, these memoranda— including "The Image of the Jews in Catholic Teaching" (June 22, 1961) and "The Jews in Catholic Liturgy" (November 17, 1961)--help make this issue a priority for Catholic-Jewish relations. The third document, prepared at AJC's initiative by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, examines tensions between Catholics and Jews from a religious viewpoint (May 22, 1962). This final memorandum, prepared at the expressed invitation of Cardinal Bea, is a result of a series of meetings in Rome between the Cardinal and Ralph Friedman, chairman of the AJC Administrative Board, Zachariah Shuster, AJC European director, Dr. Max Horkheimer, AJC consultant in Germany, and Rabbi Heschel. During these meetings, Rabbi Heschel urges Cardinal Bea to use the Council on Christian Unity as the vehicle to help purge Catholic teaching of anti-Jewish ideas —and to stop efforts to proselytize Jews.

1963 – March. AJC arranges a meeting in New York City at the AJC Institute of Human Relations between Cardinal Bea and Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis in the United States. Pope Paul VI lends his endorsement to the meeting, and the Cardinal affirms the need for "interreligious communication and cooperation." (Photo: with Cardinal Bea, left to right: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel; Fr. Stephen Schmidt, S.J.; Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum.)
 
1963 – May. Six AJC representatives visit the Vatican for a meeting with the Pope. One of them, Mrs. Leonard Sperry, had recently endowed the Sperry Center for Intergroup Cooperation at Pro Deo University in Rome. During a meeting with the Pope, the Pontiff reaffirms his interest in improving Jewish-Christian relations, specifically in terms of repudiating teachings about Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus.

1964 At the AJC annual dinner, Francis Cardinal Spellman, archbishop of New York, calls for stronger ties and understanding between the Jewish and Christian communities. Repudiating the ancient charge of deicide, the archbishop states, " It is simply absurd to maintain that there is some kind of continuing guilt which is transferred to any group and which rests upon them as a curse which they must suffer. ...Anti-Semitism can never find a basis in the Catholic religion."
(Photo: Cardinal Spellman with AJC leaders, including Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum on the far right.)

1965 – Cardinal Bea visits the United States, and AJC's President Morris Abram greets and meets with him at Kennedy Airport, where the Cardinal stops en route to Philadelphia. (Pictured at airport meeting, left to right: Dr. John Coventry Smith, executive secretary, Commission on Ecumenical Missions, United Presbyterian Church, and vice president, National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.; AJC President Morris Abram, shaking hands with Cardinal Bea; Fr. Walter Abbott, S.J., associate editor, America magazine (rear); Cardinal Bea; Fr. Paul Maillieux, S.J., director, Center for Eastern Studies, Fordham University; Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, AJC director of interreligious affairs.)
 
1965 - April. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum appears on the Today Show with Hugh Downs explaining the festival of Passover (photo to right).
 
1965 - May 20. AJC presents the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the American Liberties Medallion for his "exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty." In a powerful speech including much praise for the AJC, he ends with these stirring words of hope: "With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, the stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed the day when, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, 'Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the rugged shall be made level and the rough places a plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.' This is our hope. Certainly we have a long, long way to go before this problem is solved in our nation. But we can gain consolation from the fact that we have made some strides. We are not what we ought to be as a nation, but we have made some significant steps forward. So I close by quoting the words of an old Negro preacher who did not quite have his grammar right but who uttered the words of great symbolic profundity, in the form of a prayer: 'Lord, we ain't what we want to be; we ain't what we ought to be; we ain't what we gonna be, but, thank God, we ain't what we was.'"
 
1965 – October 28. The Vatican issues the historic document Nostra Aetate: The Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to non-Christian Religions that transforms official Catholic teaching on Jews and Judaism. The AJC praises the Vatican for its pathbreaking initiative— despite regretting "some of the assertions in the declaration that might give rise to misunderstandings." The declaration ushers in a new era in relations between Christians and Jews.

1966 -Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum is the only rabbi at Vatican Council II, in Rome, where AJC is also represented by Zachariah Shuster, director of AJC's European Office.
 
1966 – AJC organizes an Institute on Jewish-Catholic relations for faculty and seminarians at Woodstock College, a Jesuit institution near Baltimore. AJC publishes a Guide to Interreligious Dialogue to orient laypersons on Interreligious encounters.
1966 -Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, AJC's director of interreligious affairs, cochairs the first International Colloquium on Judaism and Christianity, held at Harvard Divinity School.

 

1966 - April. The AJC Annual Meeting includes a special Friday evening service at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, conducted by Rabbi Norman Gerstenfeld. Following the service, which commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of AJC, Rabbi Gerstenfeld hosts a colloquium on "New Vistas in Jewish-Christian Relations." Participating in the colloquium with Rabbi Gerstenfeld are the Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Black, secretary general-elect of the World Council of Churches, and Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, bishop of Baltimore.

 

1966 -November 14. AJC presents a special award to the Catholic bishops of the United States, in "heartfelt appreciation" for the work of U.S. Catholic leadership that led to the passage of the Vatican Council's declaration. The work of five cardinals is specifically noted: Cardinal Spellman (New York), Cardinal Ritter (St Louis), Cardinal Shehan (Baltimore), Cardinal Cushing (Boston), and Cardinal McIntyre (Los Angeles). In appreciation for the award, a framed certificate is presented to the AJC on behalf of "The Catholic Bishops of the United States," beginning with the words: "On the occasion of this tribute from Jewish leaders of the United States, the Catholic Bishops of this country warmly reaffirm the Declaration of the Fathers of Vatican Council II that Christians and Jews are all children of God, all sharing His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design.... It is our prayer that this occasion may inspire further confidence that men of all faiths can aid one another in attaining peace and live as brothers."
(Photo, left to right: Charles Silver, president, Beth Israel Medical Center, NY; Cardinal Shehan; Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum.)

1967- At the May Annual Meeting, Zachariah Shuster, director of AJC's European Office, reports that the Vatican Ecumenical Council Declaration is having an unprecedented positive influence not only on Church teaching, but also on governmental decisions. As an example, he cites the fact that Spain has introduced a law for consideration that "religious affiliation should be no barrier to any position or profession except that of chief of state," and that "non-Catholic religions, including Judaism, will have public acceptance." He also cites the example of Austrian Cardinal Koenig's work to supervise a study of religious literature and teaching materials for evidence of anti-Jewish prejudice as a result of direct AJC meetings with church leaders.

 

1967 – AJC is a founding member of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), the organization set up as the umbrella group for the Jewish community in its dealings with other world religious bodies including the Vatican and World Council of Churches.

 

1967-1969 - AJC convenes six conferences around the country dealing with the training of Catholic religious educators. A major conference of Jewish and Catholic theologians is held in the Midwest.

1968 - May. At the Annual Meeting, AJC hosts a roundtable discussion on "New Dimensions in Jewish-Christian Relations: Conflicts and Priorities." The discussion notes that the "clear differences in the responses of most Jews and many Christians to the Arab- Israeli war" have made it clear that Jewish-Christian dialogue must deal with (a) the meaning of Jewish peoplehood, and (b) the relationship between Jewry and the land of Israel. AJC notes that it has sponsored a number of seminars and institutes on these issues and will continue to do so.

1969 - September. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum is appointed to the Board of Directors of the School of Divinity at St. Louis University, marking the first time a rabbi has been asked to serve in such a capacity for a Catholic institution.

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1970-1979

1971 - Using its high-level contacts in the Vatican to build support and understanding for Israel, the AJC submits a memorandum to the American cardinals on Jerusalem and the Holy Places, to help offset Arab pressure on the Vatican. AJC convenes a major Jewish-Catholic conference in Philadelphia.

1971 - At the May Annual Meeting, the American Liberties Medallion is presented to the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.,president of the University of Notre Dame and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
(Pictured: Morris Abram, honorary AJC president, presenting the medallion to Fr.Hesburgh.)



1972
- The National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry, headed by a Catholic nun, Sister Ann Gillen, is set up with AJC cosponsorship in Chicago. The task force will raise awareness in the Christian community about oppressed religious minorities in the Soviet Union and promote interreligious activism on their behalf.



1973 - In late November of 1973, some seventy-five people come together at a retreat center outside Dayton, Ohio, for the first National Workshop on Christian -Jewish relations (NWJCR). With the help of the AJC and other organizations, this meeting becomes the largest gathering of individuals committed to Christian-Jewish relations anywhere in the world. The sixteenth NWJCR was held in Oct 1999, in Houston, Texas.
(Pictured to right: the NWCJR logo.)



1974 - Rabbi A. James Rudin, associate director of interreligious affairs, coleads the first interreligious study mission to a combination of Arab states and Israel.

1974 -At the May Annual Meeting, AJC honors the Catholic magazine Commonweal. In remarks delivered by Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, director of interreligious affairs, Commonweal's fifty-year history is praised, including the fact that it—along with AJC—was part of the first major dialogue between Christians and Jews in the United States. Known as the "Four C's," it was cosponsored by Commentary, Commonweal, and Christian Century.



1975 - Commemoration ceremonies marking the ten-year anniversary of Nostra Aetate take place in American cities under AJC sponsorship. AJC welcomes the January 15 release by the Vatican Secretariat on Religious Relations with the Jews of its document entitled "Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Concilar Declaration Nostra Aetate." The guidelines call for a revision of textbooks, liturgy and preaching, and expand the Vatican condemnation of anti- Semitism as a heresy.

1975 - December 8-10. AJC and the Institute of Holy Land Studies cosponsor the first national conference of Jewish and Evangelical scholars and religious leaders, which results in the 1978 volume, Evangelicals and Jews in Conversation on Scripture, Theology, and History.



1976 - At the May Annual Meeting, Fr. Andrew Greeley gives a presentation on Jewish-Catholic relations entitled, "What Have You Done for Us Lately?" In an address that makes six observations about the relationship and then five specific "flashpoints," Fr. Greeley challenges the Jewish community to be as serious about anti- Catholic feelings as the Catholic community should be about anti-Jewish feelings. At the same meeting, the Rev. James Wall gives a presentation on Protestant-Evangelical-Jewish Relations, focusing on the "wall of separation" between church and state, a wall that, in his words, "is porous, but it is firm."



1977 - October. AJC presents the Isaiah Interreligious Award to the Rev. Billy Graham, who takes the opportunity to reaffirm his less well-known 1973 statement that he does not believe in any special "mission to the Jews." This award will later be presented to Dr. Martin Marty (1985), John Cardinal O'Connor (1990), Professor Thomas E. Bird (1996), and Edward Cardinal Cassidy (2001).
(Photo: The Rev. Billy Graham accepts the award from Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum.)

1977 -Rabbi A. James Rudin leads an interreligious delegation to the Belgrade Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), speaking out for human rights and religious liberty for Soviet Jews and other oppressed peoples.



1978
- The Christian Century names Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum as one of the ten most respected and influential religious leaders in America. That same year, Sacred Heart University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, confers upon him an honorary doctorate (his tenth), characterizing him as "the human rights rabbi of America."

1978 - Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum heads an interreligious delegation to Germany at the invitation of the West German government to consult with officials of the Oberammergau Passion Play on possible revisions of the Passion Play to remove anti-Semitic content.



1979 - July
. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum participates in an interreligious conference at Camp David, the presidential retreat, convened by President Jimmy Carter.
(Photo to right.)

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1980-1989

1980 - Rabbi A. James Rudin, associate director of interreligious affairs, and his wife, Marcia, publish, Prison or Paradise; The New Religious Cults. The book is a groundbreaking study of the history, recruiting methods, and culture of religious cults in the United States.

1980
- Rabbi A. James Rudin leads an interreligious delegation to the Madrid Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (following the earlier trip to the 1977 Belgrade Conference), pressing for human rights and religious liberty.



1981 - March. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, director of interreligious activities, receives the Bronze Medallion of the Chapel of Four Chaplains for his interfaith work.
(Photo: Rabbi Tanenbaum receives the medallion from Lucien Katzenberg, Chapel of Four Chaplains trustee.)



1982 - The Atlanta Chapter of the AJC helps establish the Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition (ABJC) to build support for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. After the act is passed, the ABJC continues its work with the purpose of strengthening relationships between the Black and Jewish communities. Although not specifically formed for interreligious affairs, the ABJC becomes a powerful force in improving Jewish-Black Christian relations through activities including special observances in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Photo, left to right: Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, Coretta Scott King, and Rosalynn Carter, Atlanta 1982.)



1983
-Rabbi A. James Rudin, who has worked with the AJC since 1968, succeeds Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum as director of interreligious affairs. Rabbi Tanenbaum continues with the AJC as director of international relations through 1989.



1984 – AJC publishes a landmark study on anti-Semitic content in Passion plays.. The study paves the way for major changes in the production and understanding of such events. It is a follow-up to the groundbreaking work, Oberammergau 1960 to 1970 - A Study in Religious Anti-Semitism, which ultimately led to changes in what is arguably the most famous current Passion play in the world.



1985
- February. The AJC organizes events celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, including the visit of a leadership delegation to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope John Paul II. In his address to the Pope, AJC President Howard I. Friedman refers inter alia to AJC's "close cooperation with Catholic Relief Services…in seeking to relieve the suffering, hunger and deprivation of millions of fellow human beings in Ethiopia and in Africa generally."

1985 - April 16. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum meets with President Ronald Reagan during a conference on religious liberty.
(Pictured are President Reagan, Elliott Abrams, and Rabbi Tanenbaum.)

1985 - June. The Vatican publishes the paper, "Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church." An analysis by two AJC specialists, later published by the Catholic magazine Commonweal, finds that "progressive affirmations in one section are undercut by some regressive formulations in others sections." AJC invites a number of Catholic and Jewish theologians to review the document and to propose substantive and procedural changes to deal with problematic issues.

1985 - Jack Skirball creates The Skirball Institute on American Values as an agency of the AJC. Rabbi Alfred Wolf is chosen to head the institute because of his pioneering accomplishments in bringing together religious leaders of all faiths and developing innovative programs to promote American values.
(Photo: Skirball Institute logo.)

1985 - November. AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, in cooperation with the Journal of Ecumenical Studies and Temple University's Religion Department, sponsors a five-day consultation on Religious Liberty and Human Rights, in Haverford, Pennsylvania. The meeting included scholars from fourteen countries and five world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism).

1985 - November. AJC cosponsors, along with the Ecumenical Office of the Archdiocese of New York and St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, NY, an Inter-Seminary Study Day on Jewish- Christian Relations. In the same month, AJC cosponsors a two-day conference for Jewish and Christian seminarians with the Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary (United Church of Christ) and the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries.

1985 - In Nairobi, Kenya, AJC conducts Women of Faith workshops, based on its Women of Faith program, initiated in 1979. The program has attracted women from Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish faith groups.



1986
– In partnership with the Interdenominational Theological Center, AJC cosponsors a seminarian conference for Jewish and Black Christian seminarians. The landmark conference is the first of its kind, encouraging dialogue between Black and Jewish seminary students.

1986
- March. The AJC and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops announce a joint program to develop and introduce teaching materials about the Holocaust for all levels of the Catholic educational system.

1986
April 13. Pope John Paul II makes his historic visit to the synagogue in Rome. Rabbi A. James Rudin commends the action and the words of the Pope, who speaks of the Jewish people's "irrevocable covenant with God" and describes the Jews as the "beloved elder brother" of the Church.



1988
-Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum retires as director of interreligious affairs, and is succeeded by Rabbi A. James Rudin.



1989 – Second AJC delegation to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope John Paul II. At the meeting the Pope declares, "We must be united in combating all forms of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination and hatred, including anti-Semitism."
(Pictured with Pope John Paul II: Rabbi A. James Rudin, and Shalom Comay, to right)

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1990-1999

1990 -At the May Annual Meeting, AJC presents the Isaiah Interreligious Award to John Cardinal O'Connor.
(Photo: Rabbi A. James Rudin with Cardinal O'Connor.)



1991 - Rabbi A. James Rudin is the only rabbi to participate in the dedication of the new chapel at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. Rabbi Rudin helps ensure that the stained glass windows—which end up portraying the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge—include no symbols that would preclude future Jewish worship in the chapel.




1992 - Project Interchange, founded in 1982 by an interfaith group, merges with AJC. This merger strengthens AJC's existing program of non-Jewish missions to Israel.
(Pictured to right: A 1997 PI trip for Black Christian clergy includes an opportunity for participants to plant trees outside of Jerusalem.)

1992 - AJC joins with other religious groups to support efforts for Bosnian relief. (Pictured, left to right: the Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Archbishop Iakovos, Rabbi A. James Rudin, Bernard Cardinal Law.)



1993 - August. Rabbi A. James Rudin is the official Jewish observer at the Catholic World Youth Conference, held in Denver Colorado. (Photo: Pope John Paul II greeting Rabbi Rudin.)

1993 - October. AJC cosponsors the first national conference on "Muslims and Jews in North America: Past, Present and Future" with the Institute for Islamic-Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. Participants represent American universities including Princeton, Howard, Syracuse, Colorado, and Syracuse, as well as from Tel Aviv University in Israel. "It is time for Muslims and Jews alike to speak out boldly and honestly to each other, to come to know and understand each other as people and not as spiritual abstractions," says Rabbi A. James Rudin, AJC interreligious director, at the conference. In 1994, AJC and the institute sponsor a second conference, "Women, Families, and Children in Islamic and Judaic Traditions."

1993 - The Catholic Jewish Educational Enrichment Program (C/JEEP) is launched by the AJC. Funded nationally by a grant from Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation, the program increases mutual understanding between Catholic and Jewish high school students and educators, and fights stereotyping, anti-Semitism, and bigotry among the programs participants. (Pictured to right: Students at Chicago's Resurrection High School, in front of the sukkah they built as part of the C/JEEP program.)

1993
- December 30. The Holy See and the State of Israel sign a Fundamental Agreement that establishes full diplomatic relations between them, to include the exchange of ambassadors. Rabbi David Rosen, who would become the head of AJC's Interreligious Affairs Department in 2001, plays a significant role in the negotiations as a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See. A little more than four years later, on June 16, 1998, AJC and the University of San Diego sponsor the first serious symposium that focuses on "The Fundamental Agreement" that ushered in this most important further advance in the relationship of the Church and the Jewish people.



1994 – April. Rabbi A. James Rudin is a special guest at the Vatican Concert in St. Peter's commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. At the concert, Pope John Paul II points to "many new manifestations of the anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racial hatred which were the seeds of the unspeakable crimes [of the Shoah]," and calls for the consolidation of "the good relations between our two communities so that with the help of Almighty God, we can work together to prevent the repetition of such heinous evil."



1995 - February 6. The third AJC leadership meeting with Pope John Paul II takes place. The meeting notes the thirtieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate and both the Pope and AJC President Robert S. Rifkind speak of the "profound changes" in Catholic-Jewish relations as a result of the Council. Rifkind also raises AJC's concern about "those who distort the history of the Holocaust" and asks that the Holy See open its archives to Jewish and Catholic scholars working together to preserve the historical record.

1995 - Atlanta's AJC Chapter organizes an interreligious reception for the Dalai Lama during his U.S. visit.
(Photo, left to right: Arnold Sidman, the Dalai Lama, S. Stephen Selig III.)

1995 - Cardinal Bernardin heads a Project Interchange interreligious mission to Israel cosponsored by AJC and the Chicago Federation.
(AJC Honorary President Maynard Wishner is at right foreground of the photo.)

1995 - May. As part of its Annual Meeting, AJC hosts a memorial service at Arlington National Ceremony for Americans of all faiths who died during World War II, on the fiftieth anniversary of V.E. Day.
(Photo: Rabbi A. James Rudin, conducting the ceremony, alongside AJC members who are WWII veterans.)




1996
- The AJC welcomes the statements of the World Lutheran Federation and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, on the occasion of the four hundred fiftieth anniversary of the death of Martin Luther, disassociating the Lutheran Church today from Luther's anti- Jewish writings. The president of the Council of Protestant Churches in Germany, Klaus Engelhardt, in a Brotherhood Week statement in March 1996, warns against any attempts to explain or justify Luther's anti-Judaism on theological grounds. These statements are followed up with the November 16 "Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations," unanimously adopted by the Church Council of the ELCA, which emphasize specific programs and actions that Lutherans should take in opposing all forms of anti-Semitism. AJC publicly welcomes the new guidelines, noting that it has worked closely with the ELCA for several decades, and that the adoption of the guidelines is one result of that fruitful relationship.

1996 - July 23. Rabbi A. James Rudin testifies before the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, in opposition to the proposed Religious Freedom Amendment that would, among other things, support school prayer. "I believe I speak for millions of Americans," he declares, "when I say that we will vigorously oppose the Religious Freedom Amendment in the voting booth, in the church, synagogue, and mosque, in the streets, in the media, in the entire marketplace of ideas."



1997 - January 7. Rabbi A. James Rudin receives the Figure of Reconciliation Award from the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, at a ceremony at the Golden Hall of Warsaw University, acknowledging a unique series of innovative and pioneering joint programs held by the AJC with the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference of Poland.
(Photo: Rabbi Rudin with Bishop Gadecki, chair, Polish Bishops Commission on Jewish Relations.)

1997 - AJC establishes the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding. The institute encourages interreligious dialogue throughout the world through exchanges among seminaries, colleges, universities, and learned societies.

1997 - May 8. The AJC Annual Meeting features a discussion on "The Impact of Zionism and Israel on Christian Attitudes Toward Jews and Judaism." The discussion is led by Sister Audrey Doetzel, director of Relation and Encounter, Sisters of Our Lady of Sion; and the Rev. Dr. Robert Everett, director of the Institute for Jewish - Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College.



1998 - January 27. Building on the successful experience of cosponsoring a conference on Jewish-Catholic perspectives on bio-ethics, Saint Leo University (Florida) establishes the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, in partnership with the AJC. The center's goal is to promote understanding of Catholic and Jewish traditions by offering scholarships, conferences, educational resources, lectures, publications and other related activities.
(Pictured at right, from the Fifth Annual Conference of the CCJS: Rabbi A. James Rudin, Sister Mary Boys, and Father Michael Cooper.)

1998March. Rabbi A. James Rudin leads a Catholic-Jewish leadership trip to Rome and Israel, including a meeting with President Ezer Weizman, at his Jerusalem residence.
(Pictured, left to right: Bishop John Nevins of Venice, Florida; Rabbi Mordecai Waxman; Msgr. Robert Stern ,Executive Director, Catholic Near-East Welfare Association; Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore; President Ezer Weizman; Rabbi Joel Zaiman of Baltimore; Rabbi A. James Rudin.)

1998 - March. The Vatican issues a landmark document, "We Remember: Reflections on the Shoah." At the May 1998 AJC Annual Meeting, Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, explains that a major objective of the document is to promote "an awareness of past injustices by Christians to the Jewish people" among "Catholics in those countries that were far removed by geography and history from the scene of the Shoah [Holocaust], and encourage their participation in the present efforts of the Holy See to promote throughout the Church, a new spirit in Catholic-Jewish relations." Responding to the cardinal's remarks, Martin Kaplan, chair of the AJC Interreligious Affairs Commission, affirms that the AJC is "committed to working with Roman Catholic leaders to achieve mutual respect and understanding. Such a goal represents the highest and best teachings of both of our religions."

1998
- October 19. AJC issues a statement mourning the death of Fr. Edward Flannery, author of the groundbreaking work on the religious basis of anti-Semitism, The Anguish of the Jews, and the first director of Catholic-Jewish Relations (1967-77) for what was then the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Rabbi A. James Rudin states, "The AJC has lost a beloved colleague and friend."



1999 - April 12. The president of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), Rabbi David Rosen awards the Interfaith Gold Medallion to Rabbi A. James Rudin for his "outstanding contributions to interfaith understanding throughout the world."

1999 - May 28. AJC commends the Polish government for removing the hundreds of crosses that had been erected just outside the Auschwitz death camp.

1999 - June 7. AJC leaders meet with John Cardinal O'Connor, to make a $100,000 contribution to Catholic Relief Services. Cardinal O'Connor states that "no organization I know in this city, in this country, in this world, has done more to improve Christian-Jewish relations than the American Jewish Committee." (Pictured, left to right: David Harris, Cardinal O'Connor, Shula Bahat, Rabbi A. James Rudin.)

1999 - December. Rabbi A. James Rudin, director of interreligious affairs, speaks at the Catholic Academy in Berlin as part of an interreligious visit to Germany. (Photo: Rabbi Rudin and Eugene Dubow, director of the AJC Berlin Office, light Hanukkah candles during the dedication of the Adler Library at the AJC Berlin Office.)

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2000-2010

2000 - March 13. AJC welcomes the formal call for forgiveness issued on March 12 in Rome by Pope John Paul II as a "milestone in Catholic- Jewish relations." "We are hopeful that the Pope's words will be quickly translated into concrete programs," said Rabbi A. James Rudin, AJC's interreligious affairs director. He added, "This is especially important in the vital areas of teaching, preaching, liturgy and all other forms of Church life." He hailed the Pope's statement as part of "the Roman Catholic Church's efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism from its midst and to confront the errors of the past."

2000 - March. Pope John Paul II makes his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land— the first official papal visit to the modern State of Israel. In honor of the visit, AJC and the Chicago Israeli Consulate sponsor a poster contest for fourteen high schools, under the auspices of AJC's Catholic/Jewish Educational Enrichment Program (C/JEEP). The first-prize winner, sophomore Joevanny Duran of St. Rita of Cascia High School (Chicago), receives a trip to Israel during the Pope's visit and the opportunity to present his winning poster for display at the Vatican. In addition, the dramatic impact of Pope John Paul II on Catholic-Jewish relations is the focus of the third annual conference of The Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies, a collaboration of the American Jewish Committee and Saint Leo University, one month before the trip.
(Photo, upper: Pope John Paul II lays a wreath at Yad Vashem, in memory of the victims of the Shoah;
lower: Cardinal Keeler and Rabbi A. James Rudin with C/JEEP poster winner Joevanny Duran.)

2000
- May. Rabbi A. James Rudin retires after thirty-two years of service with the AJC, first as associate director for interreligious affairs, and then as director. Although retired, he continues as senior interreligious adviser, as author of a syndicated column for Religion News Service, and as adviser to the Catholic-Jewish Studies Center at Saint Leo University in Florida where he is subsequently appointed to the position of distinguished visiting professor.

2000 - November. AJC's Skirball Institute on American Values sponsors a National Seminary Presidents Conference in Los Angeles on the subject "The Entanglement of Entertainment and Education in American Culture and Religion."



2001 - February. To promote Jewish-Muslim understanding, The Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding publishes Children of Abraham, a two-volume set, one an Introduction to Judaism for Muslims and the other an Introduction to Islam for Jews.

2001March. David Harris, AJC executive director, announces the appointment of Rabbi David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland, to head the AJC's worldwide pioneering initiatives and programming in interreligious affairs. Describing Rabbi Rosen as "a true leader in the interreligious affairs world, exemplifying the kind of visionary leadership that is essential to enhancing religion as a tool for bettering the human condition and for achieving the international peace and harmony we so much desire," Harris adds that "Rabbi Rosen will advance AJC's distinguished efforts in the interreligious world, furthering the initiatives of Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum and Rabbi A. James Rudin, that have made the American Jewish Committee the leader in interreligious relations for half a century." "AJC is the preeminent organization within world Jewry in the field of interfaith relations," declares Rabbi Rosen. "I am therefore greatly honored and excited by the challenge and opportunities before me in this premier position of professional Jewish leadership in the arena of interreligious affairs." He adds, "Understanding and cooperation between religious communities and their leadership is more crucial than ever for the well-being of society. The Jewish community has an essential role to play as both contributor and beneficiary in this regard and I look forward to utilizing my experience and associations accordingly under the AJC banner." "Based in Israel, Rabbi Rosen will be traveling extensively to enhance ties among religious communities," says Harris. Rabbi Rosen will continue his decades-long career of interaction with the various Christian and Muslim communities, as well as with the Eastern religious communities.

2001 - March. AJC's Skirball Institute on American Values hosts the seventh annual Southern California Seminary Conference, for faculty and administrators from six major Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant seminaries in Southern California. The theme is "Here I Am: Stories of Personal Faith."

2001 - May. President George W. Bush speaks at the AJC Annual Meeting, praising the role AJC has played to strengthen religious freedom and interreligious understanding: "The Middle East is the birthplace of three great religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Lasting peace in the region must respect the rights of believers in all these faiths. That's common sense. But it is also something more: It is moral sense, based upon the deep American commitment to freedom of religion. That commitment was expressed early and eloquently by our first president, George Washington, in his famous letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. He argued for an attitude beyond mere tolerance--a respect for the inherent and equal right of everyone to worship God as they think best. 'The government of the United States,' he said, 'which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.' Over the years, Washington's rejection of religious bigotry has matured from a foundation of our domestic politics into a guiding doctrine of our foreign policy. The American Jewish Committee deserves special credit for this progress. You were among the very first groups to support the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Formed to resist anti- Semitic persecution in Czarist Russia, the American Jewish Committee has emerged as a great champion of religious liberty worldwide." (Photo to right: President Bush and Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres.)

2001
- May. The Annual Meeting honors Edward Cardinal Cassidy, the outgoing president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jewish People. The meeting also includes an address by Sheikh Mohammed Hisham Kabbani, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in the USA.
(Sheikh Kabbani pictured to right.)

2001 - June. Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs, presides in his role as president of the International Council of Christians and Jews, over the ICCJ's first international conference in Latin America, in Montevideo, Uruguay. Walter Cardinal Kasper, the newly appointed president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jewish People, gives the opening address in which he declares the idea of Christian proselytization of Jews to be "inappropriate and unacceptable." At the meeting, Rabbi Rosen presents Cardinal Jorge Mejia of the Vatican with a special award for his contribution to Christian- Jewish reconciliation.

2001 - September. Rabbi David Rosen participates in the Barcelona assembly of world religious leaders, organized by the Roman Catholic community of Sant Egidio, charged by Pope John Paul II with continuing the spirit of his world interfaith initiative in Assisi in 1986.

2001October. AJC presents a check for $10,000 to Archbishop Demetrios, to help rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Catholic Church, the only house of worship destroyed when the World Trade Center collapsed after the terrorist attack. He responds with words of thanks for this gesture—and praise for the ongoing work of AJC: "I thank the Almighty God for you and your support towards the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York City ....It is a strong demonstration of your calling as an organization that fosters the bonds of civil society through actions of mutual respect and understanding. In the darkness of the destruction of sacred space and hallowed ground by the horrific events of September 11, 2001, your actions sing of the mercies of the Lord."
(Photo, left to right: David Harris, AJC executive director; Martin Kaplan, Chair, Interreligious Affairs Commission; Archbishop Demetrios.)

2001 - December. Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf addresses the AJC National Interreligious Affairs Commission, on the topic of "Challenges Ahead for Jewish-Muslim Relations."

2001
- AJC hosts a meeting of Christian- Jewish centers around the country, laying the groundwork for the formation of the Council of Centers on Jewish- Christian Relations (CCJCR). The Council will serve as an umbrella organization to help coordinate efforts of the twenty-twenty-five institutes in the United States devoted to Christian- Jewish relations.
(Pictured below: Rabbi Rosen with participants in the meeting.)











2001 – After the "Jewish Scholars Group" issues "Dabru Emet" ("Speak Truth") – a working document to promote Christian-Jewish dialogue, AJC becomes involved in a variety of ways. Rabbi A. James Rudin's critique of the document helps to strengthen both dialogue and debate. Later, in 2002, Rabbi David Rosen is one of the keynote speakers at the first conference in Israel to focus on the document.

2001
– AJC releases the second in a series of reports on emerging religions in the United States. Religious Diversity in America: The Emergence of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, by Dr. Tom W. Smith, focusing on three of the major faiths outside of Christianity and Judaism that are part of America's increasingly diverse religious landscape.

2001
-December. Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf addresses the AJC National Interreligious Affairs Commission, on the topic of "Challenges Ahead for Jewish-Muslim Relations."



2002 - January. Rabbi David Rosen, helps organize and participates in the historic Alexandria summit, bringing together the religious leaders of the three Abrahamic faith communities in the Holy Land for the first time. The summit, initiated and facilitated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, is hosted by the highest authority in the Muslim world, Sheikh Sayyed Mohammed El Tantawi, the Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Muslim University in Cairo. The summit participants sign an historic document known as the First Alexandria Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land, condemning violence in the name of religion as a desecration of religion itself, and pledging to work together for peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.

2002 - Rabbi David Rosen is one of the keynote speakers at the first conference in Israel to focus on the document.

2002 - January 24. Rabbi David Rosen participates in the "Day of Prayer for Peace" convened by Pope John Paul II in Assissi, Italy, for representatives of the world's religions.

2002 - February. Rabbi David Rosen is invited by the World Economic Forum to serve on its Advisory Council of World Religious Leaders and, accordingly, participates in the historic World Economic Forum Annual Meeting relocated for the first time outside Davos, Switzerland, to New York, in tribute to the city in wake of the September 2001 attacks.

2002 - AJC commissions a study on Muslim Anti-Semitism: A Clear and Present Danger by Robert S. Wistrich, Neuberger Professor of Modern European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the same way that early AJC studies of anti-Semitic references to Jews in Catholic literature helped lead to changes that reduced prejudice and fostered positive Catholic-Jewish relations, the hope is that studies such as this one will help promote changes in anti-Semitic rhetoric on the part of Islamic leaders-and bring about increased cooperation and respect.

2002 - June 8-17. AJC sponsors a Project Interchange trip to Israel for Hindu and Sikh members of the Indian and Pakistani communities in the United States-laying the groundwork for new initiatives to enhance religious understanding between these religious groups and the Jewish community. 

2002 July. His Royal Highness, Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan, and Rabbi David Rosen address AJC leadership at a dinner at the Jacob Blaustein Building in New York City. A long-time advocate of interreligious cooperation and a personal friend of Rabbi Rosen, the prince had earlier praised the AJC's Children of Abraham books as "a courageous initiative to promote understanding, wisdom and brotherhood between the Jewish and Muslim communities."

2002September. Rabbi David Rosen joins world religious leaders at a meeting in Palermo, Sicily, entitled, "Faiths and Culture Between Conflict and Dialogue," organized by the Rome-based Roman Catholic Sant'Egidio Community.



2003 - June 25. Felice D.Gaer, director of the American Jewish Committee's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, is elected chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The commission, an independent federal agency, monitors religious freedom in other countries and advises the President, the secretary of state, and Congress on how best to promote it.

2003 - July. Under the auspices of the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding, the AJC organizes a highly successful series of appearances arranged by AJC Chapters across the U.S. in cooperation with Christian and Muslim organizations at which a rabbi, imam and priest - all Israelis - present their views on peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. The program, entitled "Abrahamic Voices of Peace from the Holy Land", is scheduled to become an annual event.

2003
- September. AJC appoints Dr. David Elcott as U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs, working with the Head of the Department of Interreligious Affairs Rabbi David Rosen and taking direct responsibility for interreligious programming in the U.S. Dr. Elcott served for 16 years as vice president of CLAL, the National Center for Learning and Leadership, the leading educational and training institution in the American Jewish community and prior to taking up his position with the AJC, he was head of DME Consulting, advising a wide range of non-profit organization and major corporations on re-tooling their missions and vision in responding to the new conditions of twenty-first century life. Dr. Elcott holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University in Political Psychology and Middle East Studies; he is an expert in Jewish and Islamic studies; and is the author of A Sacred Journey: The Jewish Quest for a Perfect world.

2003
- December. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel invites Rabbi David Rosen to be part of its official delegation in its official interreligious dialog with the Holy See.

2003 - December. The AJC helps launch the Elijah Academy of World Religions holding its first Governing Board Meeting of world religious leaders in Seville at the Center of the Foundation of the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean of the Government of Andalusia and the Kingdom of Morocco.



2004 - January. Rabbi David Rosen represents the AJC at the Papal concert for Jewish-Christian-Muslim Reconciliation held in the Vatican.

2004 - January/February. The AJC publishes and disseminates a "Resource Manual" on "The Passion" in advance of the release of Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ". In an official statement AJC Executive Director David Harris states inter alia "The events of recent months surrounding the anticipated release of the Gibson film have only served to strengthen the resolve of those Jews and Christians committed to a brighter future for interreligious harmony and collaboration."

2004 - February. The President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, Mr. Andrew Athens, publicly acknowledges the special role of the AJC in resolving the matter of the recognition of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Ireneios I, by the State of Israel.
(Picture: From left - Rabbi David Rosen, Patriarch Ireneios I, Mr. Andrew Athens, Ambassador of Greece to Israel Mr Panayotis Zografos meet in Jerusalem in honor of the recognition of the Patriarch.)

2004 - February. Harold Tanner, AJC President, leads an AJC delegation at a private audience with Pope John Paul II at which he pays tribute to the Pope's historic contribution to Christian-Jewish reconciliation and his leadership in the struggle against anti-Semitism and bigotry. John Paul II reaffirms his commitment in these regards and reiterates his condemnation of violence in the name of religion as the desecration of religion. The visit receives widespread media coverage. (Picture: Harold Tanner and Rabbi David Rosen present the Pope with an Israeli sculpture of an olive tree the leaves of which turn into doves, giving expression to the hopes for peace of the Jewish people, rooted once again in their historic homeland.)



2005
- January. AJC's International Director of Interreligious Affairs, Rabbi David Rosen is elected to the Presidium of the First World Congress of Imams & Rabbis for Peace held in Brussels, Belgium, under the Presidency of the Kings of Belgium and Morocco.

2005 - February. Rabbi Rosen addresses the World Bank Conference on Faith and Development, held in Dublin, Ireland.

2005 - March. AJC and the USCCB (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) hold a high-level conference at the Pope John Paul II Center in Washington, D.C., celebrating the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council's document on relations with other religions and specifically with Judaism.

2005
- May. AJC co- hosts the first Romanian Orthodox-Jewish dialogue in Durau and Iassi.

2005 - May. AJC professionals from the US and Israel participate in the First International Catholic-Jewish dialogue of the Catholic Focolare movement, held in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. On this occasion they are part of the first Jewish delegation to meet Pope Benedict XVI since his ascent to the papacy.

2005 - June. AJC's Institute of Latino and Latin American Affairs and Tribuna Israelista, the political affairs agency of the Mexican Jewish Community cosponsor a trip for a delegation of Mexican and Latino Bishops to Poland and Israel, a new initiative to advance Catholic-Jewish understanding. The initiative comes during the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the proclamation that radically changed the Catholic Church's approach towards Jews, and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz and defeat of Nazi Germany. The visit coincides with the meeting of the two year old Bilateral Commission for dialogue between the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel on which AJC's Rabbi Rosen serves. Accordingly a successful joint evening program is held for the Mexican and Latino bishops with the Bilateral Commission.

2005 - July. AJC co-sponsors the International Council of Christians & Jews (ICCJ) international conference in Chicago, IL. Rabbi David Rosen, both in his AJC capacity and as President of the ICCJ, opens the conference together with Dr. Sam Kobia, the Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches. The conference is attended by delegates from over twenty countries.

2005 - August. Rabbi David Rosen, Director of AJC's Department for Interreligious Affairs, is elected president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), a broad-based coalition of Jewish organizations representing world Jewry to other religions.

2005 - September. Rabbi James Rudin, AJC's senior consultant on interreligious affairs, heads AJC's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “To meet this extraordinary challenge, all of AJC's resources must be used, especially the talents and time of our members and professional staff across America,” said Rabbi Rudin. AJC's Hurricane Katrina Fund raised several hundred thousands of dollars and AJC's Houston Chapter assisted relief efforts for evacuees from the hurricane who had been brought to Houston.

2005 - September. AJC sponsors a trip for senior Jewish and Christian leaders to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. “Standing on the rich traditions of working together to address questions of social justice, seventeen senior leaders representing eight Christian denominations and national organizations and six national Jewish organizations will spend five days together in the land that is holy to both faiths,” said David Elcott, AJC's U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, and key organizer of the mission. The trip is designed to find common ground among American Jews and Mainline Christians in search for peace.

2005 - September. AJC's Rabbi David Rosen delivers the Templeton lecture on Religion and World Affairs, Philadelphia, PA.

2005 - September. AJC professionals participate in the Pontifical Gregorian University's conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate.

2005 - October. AJC's International Director of Interreligious Affairs Rabbi David Rosen is the official Jewish orator at the Vatican's commemorative conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. Cardinal Lustiger of Rome is the Catholic speaker.

2005 - November. Cardinal Walter Kasper on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI invests AJC's Rabbi David Rosen with a papal Knighthood as a Commander of the Order of Gregory the Great. Rosen is the first Israeli and Orthodox rabbi to receive such a knighthood. • 2006 - February. AJC donates $100,000 to Xavier University in New Orleans, a historic black Catholic college to help its rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The contribution is the latest disbursement from AJC's Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund. This follows the December 2005 AJC Executive Director David Harris visit to New Orleans, where he delivered checks totaling $575,000 from the organization's Katrina Fund. Recipients included Dillard University, St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church, and two synagogues, Congregation Gates of Prayer and Congregation Beth Israel.



2006
- March. AJC is the first American Jewish organization to receive a Papal audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The delegation is led by AJC President Robert Goodkind.

2006 - March. AJC participates in the 2nd World Congress of Imams & Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain.

2006 - June. AJC's Project Interchange sponsors a weeklong leadership seminar in Israel for African American members of the Pan-Methodist Commission for Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. During the visit the Methodist Leaders encounter Jewish and Christian speakers committed to peace, visit Jewish and Christian historical sites, meet with Arab, Druze and Jewish Israelis, as well as with Israel's newest immigrant community, the Ethiopians. The joint delegation is led by David Elcott, AJC's U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs and the Rev. Dr. W. Douglas Mills, UMC Associate General Secretary for Dialogue and Interfaith Relations.

2006 - June. AJC applauds the Presbyterian Church (USA) decision to adopt a more constructive and positive approach to peacemaking in the Middle East, changing its course from its 2004 divestment resolution. “We are deeply moved by the Presbyterian Church's acknowledgement of the damaging effects that is previous decision had on relations with the Jewish community and welcome the church's renewed commitment to engage in positive peacemaking efforts,” AJC's U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs David Elcott said.

2006 - August. Rabbi David Rosen addresses the World Assembly of the World Conference of Religions for Peace in Kyoto, Japan.

2006 - September. AJC facilitates the summit of the Chief Rabbis of Israel with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, London. Rabbi Rosen serves on the new bilateral commission set up pursuant to the summit.

2006 - September. AJC cosponsors, along with the Al Qasemi Academy, a visit of Israeli Muslim professors to four American cities to dialogue with American Jews and Muslims about the challenges and opportunities religious minorities encounter in democracies like the United States and Israel. During their visits to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., the Muslim scholars and educators meet with Jewish and Muslim community leaders to advance dialogue and understanding between the two communities.

2006 - October. AJC appoints Rabbi Gary Greenebaum as its United States Director of Interreligious Affairs. Rabbi Greenebaum, a senior community leader and authority on inter-group relations and politics, domestic security and policy reform, served as Western Regional Director of AJC from 1990 to 2006. An expert in leadership recruitment and skills development, Rabbi Greenebaum has led training seminars for many religious and secular organizations, taught at several universities and led several delegations of American Protestant and Catholic leaders to Israel. Ordained in 1978 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Rabbi Greenebaum holds Master's degrees in Hebrew Letters and in Jewish Communal Service from HUC-JIR and a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Irvine.

2006 - November. AJC facilitates the first meeting in Africa of the International Jewish-Catholic Liaison Committee meeting between the International Jewish Committee for Religious Consultations (IJCIC) and the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry in Cape Town, South Africa. This momentous meeting brings together world Jewish and Catholic leaders in South Africa to discuss ways of addressing the challenges of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The meeting also explores the imperative and the means to reach out to strengthen the moderate voices within Muslim communities. South African Vice President Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, and Cape Province Premier Ebrahim Rasool, addressed the meeting.



2007 - February.  AJC co-sponsors the first Jewish-Hindu religious leadership summit in New Delhi, India, together with the World Council of Religious Leaders, the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Israeli Embassy in India.

2007 - June. Together with the Catholic Theological Union AJC cosponsors a five day seminar Comunidades y Convivencia: A Seminar on Catholic Jewish Relations for Latino and Latina Catholics in Ministry at the Cardinal Joseph Bernadin Center.  This special seminar aims to broaden mutual understanding of Catholic-Jewish relations and enhancing contemporary Latino-Jewish relations.  “Strengthening ties between our two communities, Jewish and Latino, is mutually beneficial on many levels,” said Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, AJC's US Director of Interreligious Affairs.  Seminar faculty and facilitators include leading Jewish and Catholic religious scholars, Latino theologians, and interreligious leaders committed to advancing Jewish–Christian and Latino-Jewish understanding.

2007 - August.  Project Interchange in coordination with AIJAC (Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council) sponsors an unprecedented trip of a leadership delegation of the All-India Association of Imams and Mosques, an organization that embraces more than half a million religious leaders across India.  “This visit is of great strategic importance and hopefully it will impact on the wider Muslim world as well,” said Rabbi David Rosen.  “We have developed an interreligious dialogue with the major Hindu leadership in India, and this relationship with Indian Muslim leadership is not less important for these bilateral relations,” Rabbi Rosen added.

2007 - October.  Rabbi David Rosen participates in Emory University's conference on Religion and Peacemaking with the Dalai Lama.

2007 - November.  AJC facilitates a delegation of religious leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (the Council of Religious Leaders of the Holy Land) to Washington, DC, where they met with government officials.



2008 - January.  Rabbi Rosen speaks at the first Alliance of Civilizations conference in Madrid, Spain.  The Alliance of Civilizations, set up to promote Muslim-West dialogue and cooperation, was initiated by Prime Ministers Zapatero of Spain and Erdogan of Turkey, and operates under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

2008 - February.  AJC co-sponsors and facilitates the 2nd Jewish-Hindu summit of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha (the Hindu leadership umbrella organization) in Israel.  In addition to a historic day of dialogue with the two Chief Rabbis of Israel and members of the Rabbinate's Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, meetings are also held with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister Isaac Herzog and Minister Majalli Whbee.

2008 - March.  Rabbi Gary Greenebaum is the first rabbi to address the Young Arab Leaders Conference, including business leaders from Arab countries.

2008 - April.  Rabbi Rosen attends Seeds of Compassion conference and participates in the interfaith panel together with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in Seattle, Washington.

2008 - May.  AJC and leaders of the Church of Latter-Day Saints meet at the home of the new Chair of Interreligious Affairs Department, David Rousso, to celebrate both the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Brigham Young University Study Program in Jerusalem.

2008 - July.  Rabbi Rosen represents AJC at the historic interfaith conference convened by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and organized by the World Muslim League in Madrid, Spain.    

2008 - July.  AJC and the Shalom Hartman Institute inaugurate a thirteen month Christian Leadership Institute to provide Christian Leaders with an opportunity to gain a more profound understanding of Judaism and the Jewish people.  It opens in Jerusalem, staffed and coordinated by Rabbi Gary Greenebaum.

2008 - October.  Rabbi Rosen participates in the meeting of religious figures from Israel/the Palestinian Authority at the Arrabida Convent, south of Lisbon, Portugal, convened by President Jorge Sempaio, former President of Portugal and currently the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (AoC.)

2008 - October.  Rabbi Rosen leads the IJCIC delegation at the private Papal audience with Benedict XVI.

2008 - December.  Rabbi Rosen attends The third World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace organized by Hommes de parole (http://www.hommesdeparole.org/  ) under the auspices of UNESCO, at their headquarters in Paris, France.



2009 - February. After leading representation to the Vatican and the Catholic Church over the "Williamson affair" and the Vatican lifting of the excommunication ban on the Society of Saint Pius X, AJC attends the Papal audience given to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.  The Pope strongly repudiates anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial as sins that will not be tolerated by the Church; and emphasizes the importance of nurturing the memory of the Shoah as a message and warning for future generations.  He announces his intention to visit the State of Israel in a few months.

2009 - February.  AJC in ongoing partnership with Al Qasemi Arab Academy of Education holds the 2nd in a series of interfaith seminars on women's community leadership and empowerment, coordinated by AJC's Assistant Director of International Interreligious Affairs Avril Promislow.  The topic is the Status of Women in Religion and it is attended by Christian, Jewish and Muslim participants.

2009 - March. AJC's Rabbi Rosen is one of four persons representing the Chief Rabbinate of Israel at the private papal audience and special Vatican meetings convened to restore close bilateral ties in the wake of the recent crises in Catholic-Jewish relations.

2009 - March.  AJC co-sponsors conference in memory and honor of one of the pioneers of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation in Poland, the late Father Stanislaw Musial. Hosted by the Ignatianum and Jagellonian Universities and also co-sponsored by the Cardinal Bernardin Centre of CTU; Boston College; John Carroll University and the Tannenbaum Center, the conference features closing addresses by AJC's Rabbi David Rosen together with the Cardinal of Cracow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwidz (the late Pope John Paul II's private secretary).

2009 - April.  Rabbi Rosen represents AJC as a keynote Jewish speaker at the second academic interfaith conference under the auspices of the University of Tunis Ben Ali Chair for Dialogue between Civilizations and Religions, held in Nabeul, Tunisia, on the subject of "Justice and Peace in the Sacred Scriptures and Philosophical Thought".

2009 - April.  Rabbi Gary Greenebaum speaks at AJC co-sponsored event at Xavier University, Cincinnati, together with Dr. Eugene Fisher of the USCCB about the issues around the lifting of the excommunication of the four Society of Saint Pius X bishops, and the implications for the papacy of Benedict XVI and for the future relationship between the Catholic Church and Jews.

2009 - May.  Rabbi Rosen deeply involved in the planning, preparation and execution of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land, participates in official events with the Chief Rabbinate and at the President's residence.  He is the official Jewish speaker at the major interfaith event in Nazareth.

2009 - May.  AJC in coordination with the Moroccan American Cultural Center (MACC) cosponsor the interfaith panel discussion “Women Spiritual Voices: Crossing Continents, Finding Common Ground.” The program explored the evolution of women's religious roles in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.  The all female panel included members of a delegation of mourchidates, women religious guides from Morocco, an ordained rabbi, an Orthodox (Jewish) religious leader and a Christian minister.  The panelists shared their experiences on the responsibilities and limitations of their leadership roles as women within their respective religions. 

2009 - May.  The USCCB's Father James Massa participates with two academic colleagues in AJC's Annual Meeting, speaking on "A New Generation of Catholic Leadership Looks at Nostra Aetate."

2009
- June.  AJC's Interreligious Affairs Commission together with the World Council of Religious Leaders sponsors and hosts a special meeting and dialogue in New York with Indian swamis representing the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, in cooperation with the Hindu American Foundation (HAF.) A similar meeting is held in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, with Jewish and Hindu leaders in attendance as well as White House staff and other governmental offices.  The meeting is followed by a concluding lunch and discussion hosted by AJC's Washington Chapter.

2009 - June.  AJC's Rabbis James Rudin and David Rosen participate in the special colloquium on Israel-Vatican relations hosted by Boston College.

2009 - June. Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC's newly appointed Associate Director of Interreligious Affairs addresses a prayer vigil at a interfaith rally in support of comprehensive immigration reform.  The Prayer Vigil for Immigration Reform is part of the Reform Immigration for America initiative, of which AJC is an active member.

2009 - July.  AJC is the sole American Jewish organization to be invited to participate in the follow up conference to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia's initiative to promote international interreligious dialogue. A decision is made to establish an international center for such dialogue and Rabbi Rosen is invited to be the Jewish representative on the working group to determine the format, function and oversight of this center.

2009 - July.  AJC's Project Interchange sponsors a group of African American pastors for a leadership seminar trip in Israel.  This group of young African Americans leaders, led by Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, learned about Israel's history, Israel as a Jewish homeland and the political realities Israel faces. 

2009 - July.  AJC and the Shalom Hartman Institute completed a thirteen-month educational program for twelve influential Catholic and Mainline Protestant denominational and institutional leaders, including seminary presidents, deans and bishops.  It began and concluded with July 2008 and July 2009 ten-day seminars in Jerusalem and was sustained by distance learning throughout the year.  In addition to the Hartman faculty the July 2009 seminar was staffed by Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, AJC's US director of Interreligious Affairs, and Emily Soloff, AJC's Chicago area director.



2010 - Rabbi Gary Greenebaum and Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC director and associate director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, lead joint Catholic-Jewish leadership journey to Oberammergau with Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. Archbishop Dolan, Father Dennis McManus, Rabbi Greenebaum, and Rabbi Marans viewed the Passion Play together and engaged in a series of discussions with the director and assistant director of the Passion Play.

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