Faydra Shapiro Amazon | Courtesy


Modern chal­lenges and the future tra­jectory of a 2,000 year-old-con­flict were the subject of two lec­tures given last week by Faydra L. Shapiro, exec­utive director of the Israel center for Jewish-Christian Rela­tions.

Shapiro the dis­cussed Jewish-Christian rela­tions as part of the Gershom Lecture Series. The Gershom Lecture series began in 2014 to explore Jewish-Christian rela­tions and are funded by a gift from Mes­sianic Rabbi G. Robert Chenoweth.

During her first speech, “The Next Fifty Years: What Might a (More) Mature Model of Jewish-Christian Rela­tions Look Like,” Shapiro encouraged lis­teners to broaden the Jewish-Christian dia­logue.

“I know several Jewish orga­ni­za­tions whose claim to be deeply involved in Jewish-Christian rela­tions really means they are engaged with and inter­ested in only one kind of Christian,”  Shapiro said. “That is, the kind of Christian who is per­ceived to be on our side.”

Shapiro advo­cated for the expansion of the Jewish-Christian dia­logue to include groups that may not support all actions of Israel.

“A more developed model of Jewish-Christian rela­tions would contain room for prin­cipled dis­agreement about Israel,” Shapiro said. “A par­ticular attitude towards Israel should not be a cri­terion of par­tic­i­pation in the Jewish-Christian encounter.”

Junior Jerry Hewitt, a Christian studies major, said he gained an appre­ci­ation for the com­plexity of Jewish-Christian rela­tions from Shapiro’s speech.

“Israel isn’t just a nation, but a group of people, just like we are,” Hewitt said. “We have a lot of dif­fer­ences but we have a similar back­ground and an inter­twined tra­dition.”

Prior to this week’s lec­tures, Shapiro had been a fea­tured speaker during the winter break tour of Israel spon­sored by Pas­sages. Matt Sauer ‘16, cur­rently an admis­sions coun­selor and a graduate of Hillsdale College, heard her speak during that trip two years ago.

“In Israel, Shapiro’s speech was very general and all about making the most of our expe­rience in  another country,” Sauer said. “This speech was about now that we are back in our own country, how are we going to apply what we learned to this future Jewish-Christian dia­logue.”

Shapiro’s second speech, “The Unique Chal­lenges and Pos­si­bil­ities of Jewish-Christian Rela­tions in Israel,” explored how the unique Jewish majority in Israel made Jewish-Christian rela­tions dif­ferent from Jewish-Christian rela­tions in other parts of the West.

“It is said that the test of a democracy is the vigor with which it pro­tects the rights of its minorities,” Shapiro said. “For the first time, Jews are respon­sible for minorities in the Jewish State. Some of them are Christian.”

Shapiro said this reversal of the tra­di­tional power dynamics that have existed in most of the West creates issues only found in Israel.

“We Jews have our own Jewish fun­da­men­talists who would like to see a more ‘Jewish’ Jewish State,” Shapiro said. “The question is not about them. The question is how the Jewish State pursues its respon­si­bility for upholding the reli­gious rights and freedoms of Chris­tians.”

During the question and answer session fol­lowing the speech, a student in the audience asked Shapiro what the final goal or purpose of having a Jewish-Christian dia­logue was.

“There is no one simple goal,” Shapiro said. “It is simply our respon­si­bility as part of our con­tinued par­tic­i­pation in the West to have Jewish-Christian dia­logue.”