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Kraft-Hiatt Program for Jewish-Christian Understanding

Holy Cross is committed to deepening understanding of Judaism, Jewish life around the world, and Jewish-Christian relations. Funded by the College and by the Kraft-Hiatt family, the Kraft-Hiatt Program for Jewish-Christian Understanding sponsors a number of opportunities that continue to have profound impact on individual student and faculty participants and the campus community at large. The initiative includes lecture series, visiting scholars, and support for faculty and students to study abroad.

Lecture Series

Each semester, the McFarland Center presents Kraft-Hiatt lectures, performances and other events on the Holocaust, Jewish history and contemporary Jewish faith and life. Recent guest speakers have included David Kertzer, Yaakov Katz, Rabbi Abie Ingber, Ervin Staub, Marion Kaplan, Alan Rosen, Yehuda Bauer, Nir Eisikovits and Aaron Levine.  In collaboration with the Worcester JCC, the Center has hosted talks by Paula Fredriksen and James Carroll. Audio and/or video recordings of many past lectures are available.

Watch Online

Rabbi Abraham Skorka with his arm around his friend Pope Francis, both smiling.
April 11, 2022
The Pope’s Rabbi on Meaningful Interfaith Dialogue—Argentinian-born Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a longtime friend of Pope Francis, focuses on deepening Catholic-Jewish relationships—not to convince the other of their personal beliefs, but to open up a dialogue between their faiths to help address global issues and problems affecting members of both religions. With Francis, he co-authored “On Heaven and Earth” in 2010.
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Rhiannon Graybill

April 4, 2022
How to Read a Biblical Rape Story—Rhiannon Graybill, associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, analyzes three biblical rape stories: Dinah (Gen. 34), Tamar (2 Sam. 13), and Lot’s Daughters (Gen. 19) and challenges the idea of consent as a centerpiece in the discussion of sexual violence. Instead, she offers strategies for understanding sexual violence that tends to the ambiguity and confusion that often surround these experiences. Part of the Hebrew Bible Lecture Series.
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Magda Teter

February 23, 2022
On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth: Or How Lies Are Turned into "Facts" — Magda Teter, professor of history and the Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies at Fordham University, unpacks the enduring power of blood libel—false allegations of Jews murdering children as justification for violence against them—and explains how and why it came to be rooted in Christian imagination, reaching beyond medieval Europe to contemporary America and the Middle East. Teter is author of Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth (Harvard University Press, 2020), winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award.
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Mehnaz Afridi

November 2, 2021
Muslims and the HolocaustMehnaz M. Afridi, associate professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College, discusses her journey with Judaism as a Muslim, her interviews with Holocaust survivors, antisemitism and Islamophobia, and Islam and memory. She is author of Shoah Through Muslim Eyes (American Studies Press, 2017).
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November 13, 2019
Memory as Protest: How and Why We Remember the Holocaust—Alan Rosen, our Kraft-Hiatt Scholar in Residence, explores the ethics of commemoration. He explains the importance in Jewish tradition of commemorating the people, places and times of those murdered. Rosen is a lecturer at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and has held fellowships at the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah in Paris and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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November 6, 2019
Wrestling with the Word: Moral Ambiguity in the Hebrew Bible — Andrew Davis, associate professor of Old Testament at Boston College, and Mahri Leonard-Fleckman, assistant professor of religious studies at Holy Cross, assert that while reading the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, requires different rules of engagement than the New Testament, it seeks to immerse us in the most difficult issues of human nature, and that its lessons can speak to our world today.
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October 23, 2019
Anne Frank, Otto Frank, and the Creation of Memory — Following his one-person performance of "Otto Frank," actor, writer and director Roger Guenveur Smith joins a panel of Holy Cross faculty to explore the profound complexities entailed in the creation of both individual and collective memory. Co-sponsored with Arts Transcending Borders.
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February 20, 2019
The Holocaust on the Local Level: Coexistence and Genocide in one Galician Town — Omer Bartov, the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University, looks to the Eastern European border town of Buczacz — today part of Ukraine — to explain how ethnic cleansing develops slowly and often unnoticed, the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. Bartov is author of “Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz” (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
Watch the lecture: Stream online»


April 2-3, 2019
Readings from the RootsReadings from the Roots: Bible Translation and Its Impact — This two-day conference highlights a new, historically-sensitive translation of the Revised Common Lectionary — the collection of readings from Scripture used in many Christian services — to reduce the potential for anti-Judaism by enriching Christianity through its roots in Judaism. The conference will provide an opportunity for clergy to engage with the translation team and will feature talks by Taylor Burton-Edwards, chair of the Consultation on Common Texts; Everett Fox, the Allen M. Glick Professor of Judaic and Biblical Studies at Clark University; Adèle Reinhartz, professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Ottawa; and a keynote by Mary C. Boys, vice-president of Academic Affairs and dean and the Skinner & McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, on "Seeing Judaism Anew: Jewish Christian Dialogue." Learn more»