On October 28, 2015 it will be 50 years since the seminal document, Nostra Aetate, was pronounced by Pope Paul VI. One cannot overemphasize the significance of Nostre Aetate to the relationship between Jews and Christians. Prior to this time Christian teaching portrayed Jews as archaic and rejected by God, obsessed by observance of the law and most significantly, responsible for the death of Jesus. Following the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church committed itself to reforming the way Jews were portrayed in Catholic teaching, revising textbooks used in education and initiating ongoing dialogue with representatives of the Jewish community which continues today.
Why teach Christian-Jewish Relations? The changes brought by Nostra Aetate were so successful that few American teens have experienced the painful relationships that existed prior to 1965. This complex relationship was a significant element of Jewish history, when Jews lived under Christian domination for hundreds of years. In America today it is easy to take our freedoms for granted. However, the 50th anniversary of the historic changes brought by the Vatican offer an opportunity to celebrate the present in light of the past and to learn about the key events and personalities that brought about these changes.
Resources for Nostra Aetate’s 50th Anniversary from the Council for Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations
Addresses by Cardinal Timothy Dolan and JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen (May, 2015)
Jewish-Christian Relations (ICCJ) — another repository of articles and primary sources
Catholic-Jewish Documents from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Synagogues, the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America