Pivotal Figure


Those who knew Sr. Rose Thering, OP, as a fellow nun, a friend, colleague, teacher, or activist, mourn her death and celebrate her courage. Although she lived a long and productive life-dying May 6 at the age of eighty-five-her passing leaves a huge hole in the fabric of Jewish-Catholic relations. To me, she was a cherished friend for more than forty years.

I met Rose in 1960, shortly after I joined the American Jewish Committee (AJC). She was then earning a PhD at St. Louis University. How Roman Catholic textbooks and teachers’ manuals portrayed other faith communities was her dissertation topic. Her research project had been inspired by the AJC, but it was an independent study, carried out and supervised by faithful adherents of the religion studied. I was sent to meet Rose, to learn what her research findings were, to coordinate those findings with parallel (Protestant and Jewish) textbook self-studies, and to bring all the research to public attention.

We were both distressed by the hostility and calumny found in descriptions of Jews and Judaism in the textbooks. The accusations against Jews included bearing collective guilt for the death of Jesus, and thereby being accursed and rejected by God. The suffering and persecution of the Jews over the centuries-at the hands of Christians-were understood as signs of providential punishment. These libels were later described as “the teaching of contempt” by...

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About the Author

Judith Banki is director of special programs at the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in New York City.