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These lectures are meant to commemorate the events of November 9-10, 1938; when the Nazis staged vicious pogroms - state-sanctioned anti-Jewish riots - against Jewish communities in Germany and parts of Austria. The term, Kristallnacht (usually translated as "Night of Broken Glass"), is a reference to the thousands of Jewish homes that were ransacked along with more than 1,000 synagogues and 7,000 Jewish businesses. These pogroms marked an intensification of Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust and Shoah.

Past Lectures and Events

  • The World Knew: Jan Karski's Mission for Humanity Exhibit, Film Screening, Presentation, Book Signing – Reflections of a Man Karski and the Lords of Humanity
  • Holding on through Letters: Jewish Families During the Holocaust – Lecture by Dr. Deborah Dwork, Clark University; Co-sponsored by The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center
  • The Christian Response to the Kristallnacht November Pogrom – Lecture by Katharina von Kellenbach, professor of Religious Studies at St. Mary's College of Maryland; Co-sponsored by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center
  • The Arc of Holocaust Memory after 9/11: The Cases of Berlin and New York City – Lecture by Dr. James E. Young, director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies University of Massachusetts Amherst; Co-sponsored by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center
  • Music Amici – An evening of chamber music, vocal music, poetry, and visual art to mark the 74th anniversary of Kristallnacht with music composed in the camps and by survivors. The event featured artist-composer Judith Goldstein's music along with that of other survivor-composers.
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi – Lecture by Neal Bascomb, author and photojournalist. Neal Bascomb describes his research about the hunt for, and capture of Adolf Eichmann, the operational manager for the mass murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazi Party during WWII.

Rabbi Michael A. Signer served as Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at the University of Notre Dame from 1992 until his death in 2009. He also directed the Notre Dame Holocaust Project. Prior to his tenure at Notre Dame, he held the position of Professor of Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Rabbi Signer was a lead author of the groundbreaking statement Dabru Emet: A Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity and a founding member of the United States Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. The Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies is proud to honor his legacy with this lecture series.

Past Lectures

  • A Jewish Liturgical Curse of Christians? – Guest Speaker: Ruth Langer, Ph.D., Boston College
  • T​he Holocaust, the Covenant and Religious Responsibility: Reflections on Christian-Jewish Witness – Guest Speaker: Rabbi Eugene Korn, Ph.D.
  • The People of God and Vatican Two after 45 Years of Catholic-Jewish Dialogue – Guest Speaker: Elizabeth Groppe Ph.D., Xavier University

This series represents an ongoing initiative between the American Jewish Committee, Westchester Chapter and Iona's Br. John G. Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies to explore the points of contact between Judaism and Catholicism. Each evening of dialogue features a Jewish and a Catholic scholar who make presentations on a specific topic and then engage in extended dialogue with the audience.

Past Lectures

  • From Enmity to Friendship: Communities Working for Reconciliation
  • He​rstory: A Look at Women in Catholicism and Judaism from Ancient Times to the Present – Lecturers: Dr. Ellen Umansky, Carl & Dorothy Bennett Chair in Judaic Studies & Professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University; Jeannine Hill Fletcher, associate professor of Theology at Fordham University
  • Healing After Violence: Approaches of Different Faith Traditions – Lecturers: Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski, executive director of the Skirball Institute for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanuel, Rabbi, Sulam Yaakov Synagogue in Larchmont; Professor Lisa Cataldo, assistant professor of Pastoral Counseling at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University
  • "Faith in the Public Square: Jewish and Catholic Perspectives on Religion and Voting" – Lecturers: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of the National Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership; Dr. Nicholas Cafardi, JD, JCD, author of the book Voting and Holiness: Catholic Perspectives on Political Participation reflect on the role religious belief plays in peoples' lives and engage questions of civic responsibility.

The annual lectures highlight the work of Jewish and Catholic scholars in an effort to illuminate either the broader history of Jewish-Catholic relations or specific topics that bear on the understanding between the two faiths.

Past Lectures and Events

  • The Nazi Hunters – Award-winning journalist and author Andrew Nagorski led a lecture about those who searched for and prosecuted Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials, including the experiences of the young American prosecutors in the Nuremberg and Dachau trials.
  • Seeking Common Ground: Communicating in Times of Division – As part of the Shared Roots, Divergent Paths Series, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan and Fr. Wil Tyrell, SA of the Duchesne Center for Religion and Social Justice (Manhattanville College) discussed how the texts and traditions of our religions guide us to dialogue and reconciliation with those with whom we disagree deeply in times of division.
  • Bible, History and Archaeology – The Rabbi Michael A. Signer Memorial Lecture featured Dr. Rachel Hallote, professor of History at SUNY Purchase College. She explored ways in which archaeology and non-biblical texts help illuminate the history of the Hebrew Bible.
  • Annual Kristallnacht Commemoration: Italy and the Holocaust
    Film Screening of My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes
    – Following the film, there was a Q&A with Vincent Marmorale, president of the Italy and the Holocaust Foundation and major contributor to the film.
  • Yasmina’s Necklace: A Play by Rohina Malik – The Driscoll Professorship joins Iona’s Week of the Peacemaker to presents two staged readings of the critically acclaimed new play about Iraqi refugees and Latino Muslims. "A beautifully-crafted love story in which the Middle-Eastern refugee crises and immigrant assimilation anxiety are woven seamlessly into a character drama."
  • Self-Evident? Ethical Challenges of Voting – Distinguished Lecturers: Professor Michael Peppard, Fordham University; Professor Burton Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary; Professor Jerusha Lamptey, Union Theological Seminary
  • Medicine in Auschwitz – Distinguished Lecturer: Professor Teresa Wontor-Cichy, Research Centre of the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland
  • The Jewish Jesus & Pope Benedict XVI: Borders and Boundaries in Jewish-Catholic Dialogue
  • From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965 – Invited scholar, John Connelly, Ph.D. has taught the history of East Central Europe at the University of California Berkeley since 1994. From Enemy to Brother illuminates the baffling silence of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, showing how the ancient teaching of deicide-according to which the Jews were condemned to suffer until they turned to Christ-constituted the Church's only language to talk about the Jews. As he explores the process of theological change, John Connelly moves from the speechless Vatican to those Catholics who endeavored to find a new language to speak to the Jews on the eve of, and in the shadow of, the Holocaust, (Harvard Press, 2012).
  • Thomas Merton and Abraham Joshua Heschel: Partners in Prayer, Peace, and Interfaith Dialogue – Dr. Mary Christine Athans, BVM, Ph.D., explored how Heschel and Merton integrated spirituality and the quest for social justice. Merton's extant correspondence with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel from December 1960 - December 1966 offers a brief window into kindred spirits who were deeply committed to prayer, to the efforts for peace, and to the interfaith dialogue. As both mystics and social activists, Merton and Herschel were challenged to integrate spirituality and the quest for social justice. Reflecting on their lives and selected writings can deepen our own insights into what it means to accept that challenge in our own lives.

Every other year the Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies co-sponsors an interfaith Seder in an effort to educate people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions about the Jewish tradition. The Seder takes place in Spellman Lounge and usually involves about 200 people from a variety of religions.

The New Rochelle Coalition for Mutual Respect was founded in 1979. Original co-founder Rabbi Amiel Wohl, Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel of New Rochelle, remains as the director.

The mission of the Coalition is to improve human relations and further the quality of life in New Rochelle and Westchester County.

Iona's Driscoll Professorship in Jewish-Catholic Studies is proud to be a partner in the work of the Coalition for Mutual Respect.