Scott Lerner, Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of Humanities and French and Italian
Recorded November 15, 2012 in the Barshinger Center for Musical Arts.
Despite recent talk about a “Judeo-Christian” tradition, the historical divide between Judaism and Christianity is ancient and deep. Nowhere has this separation been more starkly visible than in Rome, seat of the Catholic Church and home to an even older if far smaller Jewish community.
Lerner guides the audience through the visible signs of a radically evolving relationship between Christians and Jews in the modern era. In particular, he interprets the unprecedented visit in 1986 by a Bishop of Rome—Pope John Paul II—to the Great Synagogue built on the site of the former ghetto. This real and symbolic encounter set in motion a major realignment of two pillars of western civilization, enabling each to remain faithful to itself while making space within itself for the other.