Christians and Jews in Dialogue – Learning in the Presence of the Other


Authors: Mary C, Boys and Sara S. Lee
Published by SkyLight Paths, is available at or by calling 800-962-4544
Review by: Dr Philip Bliss, Hon Secretary: Council Christians and Jews (Vic), Vice Chair: World Union for Progressive Judaism

One of the real problems in Inter-Faith activities is achieving proper dialogue and an honest debate on matters of real concern to all involved. For much of the time issues and questions that many wish to address are sidestepped to avoid confrontation and unpleasantness. Christians and Jews in Dialogue is a refreshing book where two very committed women tackle some of the big questions that have created divisions between Jews and Christians.

Sister Mary C Boys is Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and is a prolific writer on Jewish-Christian understanding. She visited Australia last year and gave an inspiring address to the Council of Christians and Jews.

Sara S Lee is director of Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. In addition, among other awards, she is the recipient of the President of Israel award for Distinguished Leadership of Jewish Education in the Diaspora.

This small book, very easy to read and structured by each author giving their own personal experiences on a number of topics. They describe their own emotions when they visit Auschwitz together and on their visits to Israel. Quite fascinating is how they came to be so involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue with chapters on growing up in America.

They have been involved in the educational side of Christian-Jewish relations for the last 25 years, much of this time working together, developing educational structures for inter-religious teaching and learning. A whole chapter and really the core of the book, is devoted to the development of educational workshops to bring out the most effective process of understanding each other.

Much of the book is devoted to Catholic-Jewish relations and there are several parts of the book devoted to the history of the long and at times bitter relationship between Jew and Catholic.

For anyone interested in inter-faith work this book will add to the developing understanding between the two faiths and will give much insight into how to provide educational forums to bring out the most productive outcomes of such endeavours.

Mary C. Boys is the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Prior to her present appointment, she served for seventeen years on the faculty of Boston College. A prolific author, her books include Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman’s Experience and Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding. She is also the editor of Seeing Judaism Anew: A Sacred Obligation of Christians.

Sara S. Lee is director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Recipient of the Samuel Rothberg Prize in Jewish Education from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and of the Pras HaNasi, the President of Israel’s Award for Distinguished Leadership of Jewish Education in the Diaspora, she is also a past president of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education. Lee edited Communities of Learning: A Vision for the Jewish Future.

SCENE invites readers to submit suggestions for future book reviews. The Editor would also be receptive to reviews of such books which may have especially interested a reader and who consequently would be prepared to write a review for publication in a future issue of SCENE. Reviews should be 475-500 words in length and would need to be edited if they exceeded this word count. Ed.
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