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Posted in Dialogue, Interreligious dialogue

Remembering Nostra Aetate at Tel Aviv University

Remembering Nostra Aetate at Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv – On January 17, 2016, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome, following the example of his predecessors, St John Paul II and Benedict XVI. A visit under the theme of dialogue, brotherhood and friendship, at a time Jews and Christian observed recently the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. In the Holy Land, on the 14th and 15th of December a symposium was held at the University of Tel Aviv to observe 50 years of the Vatican Council statement.


The Symposium, organized by Global Jewish Advocacy (AJC), Kantor Center and Beit Hatfutsot Museum of the University gathered Christians and Jews to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate. 5 sessions of reflections and debates marked the two days.

The first session welcomed Judge Alyakim Rubinstein, Vice President of the High Court, H.E. Kurt Koch, Cardinal and Chairman  of the Pontifical Commission for Relations with Jews, H.B. Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (find his speech here – in English), Professor Joseph Klafter, President of Tel Aviv University, Professor Raanan Rein, Representative of Beit Hatfutsot, Mr Jerry Biederman, Pesident Emeritus of AJC, Professor Aviad Kleinberg, holder of the Chair History of Religions at Tel Aviv University, Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of AJC. The meeting was directed by Professor Dina Porat, author of a book published on this occasion: “This present time, documents and research of the Catholic Church and of the Jewish people in the light of the Shoah and its consequences” (only in Hebrew).

The second session, led by Dr Iael Orvieto-Nidam, about “Theology and History” welcomed S.E Kurt Koch, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Mrs Karma Ben Johannan and Rabbi David Rosen.

The third session, led by Fr. Russel McDougall, dealt with teaching Hebrew in the Catholic Church. Bishop Michael Fitzgerald discussed the issue altogether, followed by a lecture by Bishop Elias Shaqour who spoke about teaching in the local Church of the Holy Land.

The fourth session, dealt with teaching of Christianity in Israel, was animated by Mr. Oded Wiener, inviting Fr. Eyal Naveh, Dr. Orna Katz Atar, Dr. Sarah Bernstein and Mr. David Nekrutman. The participants, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, discussed the teaching of Christianity in school manuals.

The last session, an animated debate by Pr. Aviad Kleinberg, focused round the challenges of interreligious dialogue. Fr. Norbert Hofmann, Bishop Pierfrancesco Fumagalli and Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein were guests of this final session.

The symposium went on after the publication of the Christian document “Gifts and appeals of God are irrevocable” and of the Jewish document “Rabbinical Statements on Christianity”. He was followed shortly later by a meeting of dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate on December 17th producing a common document “You will love the stranger as yourself”.

Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem