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Christians and Jews in Dialogue
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About the Author

Mary C. Boys' books include Jewish-Christian Dialogue: One Woman's Experience; Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding and Christians & Jews in Dialogue Learning in the Presence of the Other (SkyLight Paths). She is the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and chairs the Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations. Sara S. Lee edited Communities of Learning: A Vision for the Jewish Future. She is former director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and past president of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education. Dorothy C. Bass is director of the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith and editor of Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People.

Reviews

No one could find fault with the subject of this book, a story of two educators-a Catholic nun and a Jew-who have spent the past 20 years creating and leading projects in "interreligious learning" as a means of reconciling their traditions. Backed by their conviction that "religion must become a catalyst in reducing the world's conflicts," Boys and Lee tell their personal stories, detail projects that stress study and dialogue "in the presence of the other" and describe trips they took together to Auschwitz and Israel. As they confront issues like history and theology, their underlying concept of "textured particularism" denotes "a keen sense of the beliefs and practices of one's own religious tradition" as well as making space for other traditions. As inspiring as their journey is, however, their retelling of it reads more like a paper delivered at an academic conference than an engaging give-and-take. Those interested in learning about other traditions will find hope in Lee's words: that dialogue has served as a mirror through which she sees herself in a new light, a perspective which would be inaccessible without the "reflection in the image and faith of the other." (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Informed, honest and pragmatic, demonstrates why and how Jews and Christians can engage in dialogue on usually intractable subjects. An essential guide for interreligious learning." Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Two of America's foremost religious educators [provide] ... a lesson in the power and potential of interreligious learning. Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University and author of American Judaism: A History"


Review of Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other, by Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee (SkyLight Path Publishing, 2006).

"Tolerance does not inevitably lead to understanding the other, it merely permits people to live alongside those who differ from them without demeaning them," explain Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee in their new book Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other. "We want [people] to learn about the religious other and in so doing, also to learn something profound about their own tradition."

The book is structured specifically to address the questions and issues that have come up in the authors' attempts to open dialogues and break down preconceived, and often subconscious, assumptions held by Christians and Jews about their own religions and each other's. Using their own experiences as examples, the authors focus on five educational projects they were instrumental in developing; the educational and religious theologies that went into the projects' creation; and comments from the participants as a guide-post to their success. The result would be, I'm sure, a resourceful tool for educators or clergy involved in the creation of interfaith groups.

The authors are well versed in their own religious doctrines. 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 and has written extensively on the role of Judaism in Christian thought. Lee is director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. They have won awards for their work, have together visited Israel and Auschwitz, and have opened a personal dialogue on the deep-seated feelings and questions that have arisen from those visits. Together, they have been structuring seminars around the world in order to unite people on a topic that has historically divided them.

Not surprisingly, much of Boys' and Lee's focus is on the similarities that the religions share, but it is here that their greatest differences can also be recognized. The religions share so much of their scriptures but differ greatly on their interpretations and historical contexts. At the deepest, underlying level, the conversations that Boys and Lee helped to construct boil down to the fact that "Jews don't so much have to change their theology as they do their self-understanding based on history. Christians, on the other hand, have to reconstitute their theology because so much of it is grounded in an inadequate understanding of Judaism." They write that, "Christians typically need to address serious questions about the validity of a theology in which Judaism has been superseded by Christianity. Jews, for whom Christianity poses no apparent theological challenge, typically need to confront how much of Jewish identity has been shaped by identifying as a victim, particularly of Christian persecutions."

Unfortunately, anyone reading this book hoping for guidance on a more personal level might be disappointed, as the book takes an intellectualized and group-oriented approach to interfaith dialogues. The examples given in the book and the suggestions and guidelines for opening dialogues all center on large-group dynamics and structures appropriate to educator-led symposiums. Not that the questions aren't thought-provoking on an individual basis, but it is clear that the authors successfully set out to share the knowledge they've honed through larger-scale programs.

Also, a certain amount of distance is created by the heaviness of the language and the denseness of the structure. There isn't much room for personally connecting to this work, even when the authors are recounting their own stories, which is a shame because reading of their joint visits to Auschwitz and various Holocaust memorials should have opened an emotional door in the reader that was kept closed due to the book's very academic nature.

While it is possible that an individual might be motivated by this book to examine how he or she, as a Jew or Christian, react to the "other," sometimes through years of ingrained subconscious training, Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other probably won't help you understand your Jewish or Christian partner or friend any better. CHRISTIANS & JEWS IN DIALOGUE: Learning in the Presence of the Other by Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee (6" x 9," 220 pp., Hardcover, ISBN-13: 978-1-59473-144-0 / ISBN-10: 1-59473-144-6, $21.99) is available from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a- Million, Cokesbury, Doubleday, Indigo/Chapters, Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and many other booksellers, or directly from SkyLight Paths Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091; Tel: (802) 457-4000; Fax: (802) 457- 4004; www.skylightpaths.com. For credit card orders, call (800) 962-4544. Add $3.95 shipping and handling for the first book, $2.00 for each additional book.--Helene Dunbar"Interfaithfamily.com" (03/01/2007)"


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written that the fate of the world in the twenty-first century may turn on whether all the religions can "make a space for those who are not its adherents, who sing a different song, hear a different music, tell a different story." In this valuable book, Mary C. Boys, a Catholic nun, and Sara S. Lee, a Jew, share the bounties of their 20 years of leading projects in "interreligious learning" as a means of reconciliation between their traditions. Boys is the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York and a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Lee is director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

Over the years, Boys and Lee have come to the conclusion that "tolerance, however desirable and necessary, does not inevitably lead to understanding the other; it merely permits people to live alongside those who differ from them without demeaning them. Neither does tolerance require that they learn anything from the other. Pluralism, in contrast, demands pursuing understanding; it is built upon an encounter of commitments and a respect for difference that flows from knowledge of one's own tradition." The authors admit that the relationship between Jews and Christians has been a complicated and often strained one. They point out the asymmetry between the two religions with Christianity's emphasis on theology and Judaism's accent on history.

After sharing their personal stories, Boys and Lee outline their theory of interreligious teaching and learning. They also examine the Holocaust through the lens of a trip to Auschwitz in 2004 and discuss the complexities of the Land of Israel in light of a trip there in 1997. Anyone interested in Jewish-Christian dialogue will want to read this book.--Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat"Spirituality & Health" (01/15/2007)"


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 so much of the time issues and questions that many wish to be addressed are sidestepped to avoid confrontation and unpleasantness.

Christians and Jews in Dialogue is a refreshing breath of air where two very committed women tackles 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. And amongst other awards is the recipient of the President of Israel award for distinguished Leadership of Jewish education in the Diaspora.

This is a small book, very easy to read and is 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 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 structures 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 history of the long and at times bitter relationship between Jew and Catholic.

For anyone interested in this subject this book will add to the developing understanding between the two faiths and will give much insight in how to provide educational forums to bring out the most productive outcomes of such endeavours.--Philip Bliss"Australian Council of Christians & Jews" (10/01/2006)"


"Informed, honest and pragmatic, demonstrates why and how Jews and Christians can engage in dialogue on usually intractable subjects. An essential guide for interreligious learning." Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Two of America's foremost religious educators [provide] ... a lesson in the power and potential of interreligious learning. Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University and author of American Judaism: A History "


Review of Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other, by Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee (SkyLight Path Publishing, 2006).

"Tolerance does not inevitably lead to understanding the other, it merely permits people to live alongside those who differ from them without demeaning them," explain Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee in their new book Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other. "We want [people] to learn about the religious other and in so doing, also to learn something profound about their own tradition."

The book is structured specifically to address the questions and issues that have come up in the authors' attempts to open dialogues and break down preconceived, and often subconscious, assumptions held by Christians and Jews about their own religions and each other's. Using their own experiences as examples, the authors focus on five educational projects they were instrumental in developing; the educational and religious theologies that went into the projects' creation; and comments from the participants as a guide-post to their success. The result would be, I'm sure, a resourceful tool for educators or clergy involved in the creation of interfaith groups.

The authors are well versed in their own religious doctrines. 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 and has written extensively on the role of Judaism in Christian thought. Lee is director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. They have won awards for their work, have together visited Israel and Auschwitz, and have opened a personal dialogue on the deep-seated feelings and questions that have arisen from those visits. Together, they have been structuring seminars around the world in order to unite people on a topic that has historically divided them.

Not surprisingly, much of Boys' and Lee's focus is on the similarities that the religions share, but it is here that their greatest differences can also be recognized. The religions share so much of their scriptures but differ greatly on their interpretations and historical contexts. At the deepest, underlying level, the conversations that Boys and Lee helped to construct boil down to the fact that "Jews don't so much have to change their theology as they do their self-understanding based on history. Christians, on the other hand, have to reconstitute their theology because so much of it is grounded in an inadequate understanding of Judaism." They write that, "Christians typically need to address serious questions about the validity of a theology in which Judaism has been superseded by Christianity. Jews, for whom Christianity poses no apparent theological challenge, typically need to confront how much of Jewish identity has been shaped by identifying as a victim, particularly of Christian persecutions."

Unfortunately, anyone reading this book hoping for guidance on a more personal level might be disappointed, as the book takes an intellectualized and group-oriented approach to interfaith dialogues. The examples given in the book and the suggestions and guidelines for opening dialogues all center on large-group dynamics and structures appropriate to educator-led symposiums. Not that the questions aren't thought-provoking on an individual basis, but it is clear that the authors successfully set out to share the knowledge they've honed through larger-scale programs.

Also, a certain amount of distance is created by the heaviness of the language and the denseness of the structure. There isn't much room for personally connecting to this work, even when the authors are recounting their own stories, which is a shame because reading of their joint visits to Auschwitz and various Holocaust memorials should have opened an emotional door in the reader that was kept closed due to the book's very academic nature.

While it is possible that an individual might be motivated by this book to examine how he or she, as a Jew or Christian, react to the "other," sometimes through years of ingrained subconscious training, Christians and Jews in Dialogue: Learning in the Presence of the Other probably won't help you understand your Jewish or Christian partner or friend any better. CHRISTIANS & JEWS IN DIALOGUE: Learning in the Presence of the Other by Mary C. Boys and Sara S. Lee (6" x 9," 220 pp., Hardcover, ISBN-13: 978-1-59473-144-0 / ISBN-10: 1-59473-144-6, $21.99) is available from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a- Million, Cokesbury, Doubleday, Indigo/Chapters, Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and many other booksellers, or directly from SkyLight Paths Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091; Tel: (802) 457-4000; Fax: (802) 457- 4004; www.skylightpaths.com. For credit card orders, call (800) 962-4544. Add $3.95 shipping and handling for the first book, $2.00 for each additional book.

--Helene Dunbar"Interfaithfamily.com" (03/01/2007)"

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written that the fate of the world in the twenty-first century may turn on whether all the religions can "make a space for those who are not its adherents, who sing a different song, hear a different music, tell a different story." In this valuable book, Mary C. Boys, a Catholic nun, and Sara S. Lee, a Jew, share the bounties of their 20 years of leading projects in "interreligious learning" as a means of reconciliation between their traditions. Boys is the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York and a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. Lee is director of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

Over the years, Boys and Lee have come to the conclusion that "tolerance, however desirable and necessary, does not inevitably lead to understanding the other; it merely permits people to live alongside those who differ from them without demeaning them. Neither does tolerance require that they learn anything from the other. Pluralism, in contrast, demands pursuing understanding; it is built upon an encounter of commitments and a respect for difference that flows from knowledge of one's own tradition." The authors admit that the relationship between Jews and Christians has been a complicated and often strained one. They point out the asymmetry between the two religions with Christianity's emphasis on theology and Judaism's accent on history.

After sharing their personal stories, Boys and Lee outline their theory of interreligious teaching and learning. They also examine the Holocaust through the lens of a trip to Auschwitz in 2004 and discuss the complexities of the Land of Israel in light of a trip there in 1997. Anyone interested in Jewish-Christian dialogue will want to read this book.

--Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat"Spirituality & Health" (01/15/2007)"

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 so much of the time issues and questions that many wish to be addressed are sidestepped to avoid confrontation and unpleasantness.

Christians and Jews in Dialogue is a refreshing breath of air where two very committed women tackles 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. And amongst other awards is the recipient of the President of Israel award for distinguished Leadership of Jewish education in the Diaspora.

This is a small book, very easy to read and is 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 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 structures 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 history of the long and at times bitter relationship between Jew and Catholic.

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

--Philip Bliss"Australian Council of Christians & Jews" (10/01/2006)"

"Informed, honest and pragmatic, demonstrates why and how Jews and Christians can engage in dialogue on usually intractable subjects. An essential guide for interreligious learning."
Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University Divinity School


Two of America's foremost religious educators [provide] ... a lesson in the power and potential of interreligious learning.
Jonathan D. Sarna, professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University and author of American Judaism: A History

"

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