Reflections from Annual Catholic-Jewish Emerging Leadership Conference


Read Samara Gordon’s reflection about her experience representing USCJ at the annual Catholic-Jewish Emerging Leadership conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.


This summer, I was honored to represent USCJ, together with Masorti Rabbi Oliver Joseph of London, England, at the annual Catholic-Jewish Emerging Leadership Conference, designed to foster personal relationships to further dialogue between Catholics and Jews in rising generations. Over the course of the three-day conference, hosted this year in Vilnius, Lithuania, fifty participants from around the world studied texts and engaged in discussion groups, reviewing the history and the current state of Jewish-Catholic relations.

A product of Solomon Schechter Day School, Barrack Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia, a lifelong Ramah camper, and active member of UPenn Hillel, I was first of all moved to be in Vilnius, which once was home to 84,000 Jews, 94% of whom perished in the Holocaust (it is also home to Vilna Gaon, one of Judaism’s greatest rabbis of the 18th century.) “Vilna,” as it’s called, has a mythic resonance for me. As the daughter of a Conservative rabbi who is committed to interfaith dialogue, especially around Israel issues, I was also excited by the opportunity to get to know this group of diverse individuals—Jewish and Catholic—and discover both what is valuable and challenging about this conversation.

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