Seton Hall University

Statements Against Prejudice

Statement from January 27, 2022
International Holocaust Remembrance Day

There are many ways to remember the Holocaust. Sister Rose Thering, in whose legacy our own mission resides, would recall the importance of remembering by quoting the Baal Shem Tov: “Forgetfulness leads to exile; remembrance looks forward to redemption.” For Sister Rose, remembering and doing were two sides of the same coin: the first ought to lead to the second: love of God and neighbor. For Christians it seems doubly important, in the wake of a history of Christian antisemitism, to remember that this commandment is the epitome of all the Law and that nothing less is acceptable. That Nazi ideology could find a place in formerly Christian lands and hearts led Saint John Paul II to leave the following prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem: “God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your name to the nations. We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who, in the course of history, have caused these children of yours to suffer.”

In an effort to remember, we are collaborating this year with Centropa, an organization that interviews survivors of the Holocaust in Central Europe, transcribes those interviews, and also makes short films documenting the family’s experience so that, as Teofila Silberring says in one of the films, “memory doesn’t die.” These films and interviews are important because not only do they recall the horrors of the murderous Nazi regime, but also the resiliency and vitality of Jewish people and their families long after that regime has perished. They also allow survivors to tell their story in their own words. It is true that 6 million Jewish people, 1.5 million children were murdered in an attempt to eliminate the Jewish people. But such numbers can be overwhelming to the mind and become an abstraction. These films help put faces and human stories to these numbers. Here, then, are two films provided by Centropa to help keep this memory alive. 

Click here to view Teofila Silberring - So That Memory Doesn't Die »

Click here to view Return to Rivne: A Holocaust Story »


Statement from January 16, 2022
In Response to Taking Hostages at Congregation Beth Israel

We stand in solidarity with Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.

This latest antisemitic assault violated both the sacred space of a synagogue and the holiness of Shabbat. That their worship should be interrupted by such threats of violence is, frankly, obscene and only invigorates our commitment to working alongside people of good will to resist and eliminate antisemitism in our communities.

In November 2021, Beth Israel's Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said, "According to our rabbis, the Second Temple that stood in Jerusalem was destroyed due to sinat chinam – baseless hatred. Living in our society today, bearing witness to all we're going through, I've come to understand just how destructive baseless hatred can be."

The Sister Rose Thering Fund stands with Rabbi Cytron-Walker and will continue its work against such baseless hatred through the education of our teachers, who bring these lessons to their classrooms. Amidst this terrible event, there are signs of light.

The president of Colleyville's local Islamic Center spoke of the wonderful relationship between Rabbi Cytron-Walker's community and its own, and said, "The Muslim community is with them and we will do anything we possibly can for them." Likewise, The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the "antisemitic act" and pronounced their solidarity with the Jewish community (https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/article257372202.html).

A Catholic parish in the area provided a secure and warm place for people to gather, be together, and pray. A local Franciscan priest, Father Higgins, said, "When our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community were suffering, we suffered with them. It was terrible that they had to go through this. This was a frightening experience for the family." And Cardinal Wilton Gregory: "We stand with our Jewish neighbors as they confront violence. May all who suffer hatred in their places of worship know of our prayers." (https://catholicreview.org/texas-standoff/). 

We pray this kind of interfaith solidarity comes to predominate, and that the evil work of a few not overshadow the tremendous work being done for good.

Our work must continue. Let us renew our commitment to creating a world without religious prejudice.


Statement from November 9, 2021
The 83rd Anniversary of Kristallnacht

In 1970, when Monsignor Oesterreicher was reflecting upon the meaning of Nostra Aetate, he fielded questions regarding the lack of a critical emphasis in the document, that is, the paucity of lines devoted to Christian self-criticism for centuries of anti-Judaism and antisemitism. Monsignor’s response was quite nuanced and he certainly grasped the power of the point. Yet he cautioned Christians who too easily settle for a history of Israel that is limited to unrelieved suffering. Too often this kind of history will play into a different kind of anti-Judaism, the kind that sees in the Jewish people a people rejected by God and suffering due to this rejection. Instead, Monsignor wanted to emphasize that the people of Israel lives (am Yisrael chai!) and that the very vitality of the Jewish people is a sign to the world of God’s faithfulness. To fail to celebrate the livingness of the Jewish people here and now is to give to Hitler, he thought, a victory he never attained while alive. So, am Yisrael chai

Today, we solemnly recall a terrible event eighty-three years ago, the “night of broken glass,” a pogrom against Jewish houses of worship, Jewish businesses, Jewish mothers and fathers, Jewish elderly and Jewish children. And yet, am Yisrael chai

On Sunday, November 14, we will gather to hear about the slaughter at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, but more importantly, about the remarkable community of Squirrel Hill, their response to this suffering, and the stories of solidarity and community that Mark Oppenheimer has lovingly detailed. It was indeed a horrific event, and yet, am Yisrael chai

I am honored to be among truly alive members of the Jewish community on our Sister Rose Thering Board of Trustees who work to create a world in which all, someday, may sit under their fig tree with their neighbors in peace and without fear. 

By Anthony Sciglitano, Ph.D., Interim Executive Director, Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies


Statement from June 5, 2020

The Sister Rose Thering Fund (SRTF) for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies is a community outreach program of the Jewish-Christian Studies graduate program at Seton Hall University. Its mission is to advance the legacy of Sister Rose Thering by fostering understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians, and people of other religious traditions through advocacy and education. 

At this time of crisis, the trustees of the SRTF rededicate ourselves to the purpose of seeking understanding and cooperation within the human family as together we fight racism and advocate for justice and peace. 

Moments of the present crises awaken us to the continuing need for sharing values and working together. Actions must follow words. Our words are based on the pressing need we share for mutual understanding and compassion. Our graduate classes in Jewish-Christian Studies offer an environment where our teacher-scholars share educational resources, form networks to promote mutual learning, and develop curricula for informed community leadership.

The Board of the Sister Rose Thering Fund fully supports the commitment of Seton Hall University as expressed by Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., President:

We condemn racism and violence. We must remain steadfast in fulfilling Seton Hall's commitment, as we work to uphold our Catholic devotion to peace, justice and the dignity of all human life. Advancing human rights and uplifting all members of our society must be a national imperative, the responsibility for which falls to every American.


We add, further, the words of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, honored in 1998 with both the Sister Rose Thering Fund Humanitarian Award and a Seton Hall University Doctorate in Humane Letters:

When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy… Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.


By David M. Bossman, Ph.D., Executive Director Emeritus, Trustee, Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies, on behalf of the officers of its Board of Trustees


Statement from January 2020
Shaping Leaders through Education

By supporting teacher education in the graduate academic program of Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, the Sister Rose Thering Fund is enabling K-12 teachers to address the issues sketched out in the New Jersey Mandate for Holocaust/Genocide Studies. In 2019, Oregon became the eleventh state to require schools to provide Holocaust education. Its law stipulates that instruction must be designed to "prepare students to confront the immorality of the Holocaust, genocide, and other acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events."

Through courses in the Graduate Program in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies engages educators in this endeavor to teach pluralistic values at all levels in our schools as related to teaching lessons from the Holocaust. It is more than consciousness raising: it is based upon the commitment that building a just, harmonious, cooperative society begins at an early level in schools and continues throughout the curriculum. Our teachers are forming leaders to forge a society that values differences and provides opportunities to bridge differences and share resources for mutual benefit through courses such as Jewish and Christian Foundations for Social Service, and Personal Rights and Responsibility for a Just Society. Society today needs leaders who can be advocates for solidarity to oppose prejudice, to contain hate, and to build trust in a world that needs informed and effective leaders. 

Without leaders who recognize the importance of reaching out to others, who can recognize values in the diverse population of our society, too many members of our society are left abandoned to the forces of prejudice, hate, and violence. Leadership for a building a just society must be at the core of our educational curriculum.   

Amid the rise in world-wide antisemitism we recognize that the need for addressing both the causes and the means for controlling antisemitism, ethnic, and religious prejudice and violence is greater than ever. Leading journalists in recent years have sought to understand and deal with these issues. 

In 2015 David Brooks wrote in the New York Times (March 24), "How to Fight Anti-Semitism," in which he analyzed different kinds of antisemitism, suggesting remedies to address the character of antisemitism in the Middle East (where the Jew is not a person but an idea), in Europe (where antisemitism is an expression of resentment in stressful economic conditions), and in the United States (where people believe Jews are paranoid to feel threatened). Brooks recommends different remedies for each of these ranging from deterrence (Middle East) to providing needed security (Europe) and addressing causes of bigotry (the United States). 

The NJ Mandate for Education in Genocide Studies (1994) begins with a broad statement of the problem: "There is an inescapable link between violence and vandalism and ethnic and racial intolerance." We continue to witness such violence. On October 27, 2018, there was a mass shooting at the Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The congregation was attacked during Shabbat morning services. The shooter killed eleven people and wounded six. On December 12, 2019, a pair of armed suspects, one wielding an AR-15 style rifle, killed three people at a Jewish supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey. On December 29, 2019, an intruder with a large knife burst into the home of a Hasidic rabbi in a New York suburb on Saturday night, stabbing and wounding five people just as they were gathering to light candles for Hanukkah.

The Mandate addresses these incidents within the context of intolerance and hate. "New Jersey is proud of its enormous cultural diversity. The teaching of tolerance must be made a priority if that cultural diversity is to remain one of the State's strengths." 

A New York Times Editorial Board statement on January 1, 2020 advocates for thousands of people, Jews and non-Jews alike, walking arm-in-arm through the streets of Brooklyn. "This is a chance for people of all faiths and backgrounds to show critical support for New York’s Jewish communities." Such public events require a community dedication to inclusion and cooperation in civil society. Inclusion and cooperation need to be instilled in today’s youth as foundational social values. It begins in the family and in early years of both public and religious education.

The NJ Mandate helps to specify how this is done: "The instruction shall enable pupils to identify and analyze applicable theories concerning human nature and behavior: to understand that genocide is a consequence of prejudice and discrimination: and to understand that issues of moral dilemma and conscience have a profound impact on life. The instruction shall further emphasize the personal responsibility that each citizen bears to fight racism and hatred whenever and wherever it happens."

By David M. Bossman, Ph.D., Executive Director Emeritus, Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies, on behalf of the officers of its Board of Trustees

Note: The views expressed in this letter are those of the Sister Rose Thering Fund and do not necessarily reflect those of Seton Hall University and its administration.


Statement from April 29, 2019
Belief in the Transformative Power of Education

As once again our places of worship are shattered by senseless violence, we are compelled to express our outrage and sadness at such acts. The recent shooting at the Chabad Poway in California, and the Church bombings in Sri Lanka following the shootings at the mosques in Christ Church, New Zealand, are yet more examples of the mystery of evil that taints our culture today. The SRTF Board of Trustees believes in the transformative power of education, and we join together in the spirit of inter-religious dialogue as we offer prayers of solidarity for the victims, and denounce the perpetrators of such violence and hatred. Sister Rose Thering believed in the power of teachers, and in that spirit we recommit ourselves to fight prejudice as we celebrate those qualities that bring us together: our shared humanity and our faith in the future of our children and society.

By David M. Bossman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies, on behalf of the officers of its Board of Trustees

Note: The views expressed in this letter are those of the Sister Rose Thering Fund and do not necessarily reflect those of Seton Hall University and its administration.


Statement from October 29, 2018
Our Commitment in the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

The officers of the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies decry the trauma inflicted upon the Jewish community with the atrocity committed during Shabbat services at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018.

The murder of eleven congregants, gunshot wounds on others, and the terror imposed upon the larger Jewish community bring to mind the Shoah and a time when anti-Semitism was the rule not the exception.

We cannot permit our nation to relive those days of horror, not only for Jews, but for any people targeted by hate. We must stand up against hate speech and the marginalization of any religious, ethnic, or racial group.  We must affirm the need for more rigorous gun safety legislation and background checks in order to stem the pattern of deadly attacks.

The commitment of the Sister Rose Thering Fund -- to advance Sister Rose's legacy by fostering understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions -- is to teach lessons from the Holocaust, stem anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice, and assist the critical work of educators in public, private, and religious schools as they implement the New Jersey Mandate for Education in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

We pledge our ongoing support for building a safe, affirming and cooperative community with pluralistic values and appreciation for religious, racial, and personal differences. Without these no one is safe, and without these our democracy will not endure.

By David M. Bossman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies, on behalf of the officers of its Board of Trustees

Note: The views expressed in this letter are those of the Sister Rose Thering Fund and do not necessarily reflect those of Seton Hall University and its administration.


Statement from June 26, 2018
A Focus on Values

The practice of separating children from their undocumented migrant parents defies international standards and betrays the values of the United States as a nation of immigrants. The fact that widespread revulsion forced the administration to change is both a lesson and a warning.

Many knowledgeable readers of the Bible cringed when they heard US Attorney General Jeff Sessions quote Romans 13:1 (“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God”) to justify a highly questionable government policy of seizing the children of undocumented immigrants seeking asylum, in an effort to discourage applications for asylum.

Presidential spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, compounded the claim when she curiously declared that this sentiment occurs frequently throughout the Bible, overlooking the truly frequent and poignant references to immigrants and refugees, who are to be afforded protection and care.

United States immigration authorities have detained almost 2,000 children in the past six weeks, which may cause them irreparable harm with lifelong consequences, said Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. On June 19, this administration withdrew from the United Nations Commission for Human Rights.

The insult was magnified by General Sessions during a television interview on June 18, 2018, when he claimed that in the 1930s the Nazi government was trying to prevent Jews from leaving Germany, attempting to differentiate the current protection of US borders.  The fact is, according to the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, the Nazis did everything they could to force Jews to emigrate, but many nations in which the German Jews sought asylum imposed significant obstacles to immigration. Application processes for entry visas were elaborate and demanding, requiring prospective immigrants to provide information about themselves and their family members from banks, doctors, and the German police. In the case of the United States, applicants were required to provide affidavits from multiple sponsors and to have secured a waiting number within a quota established for their country of birth, which severely limited their chances to emigrate.

We deplore these violations of international standards and our own national values. We decry the injustices that result, in this instance doing irreparable damage to children and families. The warning is simple: unless this administration is forced to international standards it will run amok and continue to create chaos in trade, in immigration, and in American political system.

By David M. Bossman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sister Rose Thering Fund, on behalf of its Board of Trustees

Note: The views expressed in this letter are those of the Sister Rose Thering Fund and do not necessarily reflect those of Seton Hall University and its administration.


Statement from August 17, 2017

The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University envisions a world without religious prejudice. We support efforts to foster understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions.

Click here to read Seton Hall University's statement on the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Statement from June 17, 2017
Beyond Lethal Politics

The June 14, 2017 editorial of the New York Times, entitled "American Lethal Politics," recounts once again the dangers of easy access to lethal weapons in American society. Legislation limiting access to such weapons is surely part of the remedy to advance the effort to restrict lone assassins from picking off Republican members of Congress on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, or another member of Congress on a super market parking lot in Arizona in 2011, killing six people. Beyond the question of gun control we are suffering from a particularly virulent climate of what the Times aptly calls "lethal politics," which also begs for remedies in today's society.

How do we go about finding a remedy for the politics of resentment, grievance, and violence that has become the climate we endure in society today? The graduate program in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, working together with the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies, aims to build a society that is unified by justice and inspired by values of pluralism. By engaging these challenges in the classrooms of American schools, the program advances the cause of building mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation through education from earliest years.

Lessons from the Holocaust teach us that inter-group warfare inevitably leads to group prejudice, institutional discrimination, ethnic cleansing, totalitarian government, and ultimately genocide. Working in collaboration for effective social service and integral ecology leads people of all ages to seek common ground in addressing the needs of people rather than focusing on the differences that label others as inferior. Today's encounter between Christians and Jews can serve as a model for effective social interaction.

The board of the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies earnestly invites educators to participate in the mission of the graduate program of Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University and to join in the educational task of the Sister Rose Thering Fund for building an effective society in which justice and cooperative harmony replace lethal politics. The lives of many and the welfare of our society depend on how well we can achieve these goals.

David Bossman
Executive Director
The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies
Seton Hall University

Note: The views expressed in this letter are those of the Sister Rose Thering Fund and do not necessarily reflect those of Seton Hall University and its administration. 


Statement from February 28, 2017
A Call for Solidarity among Jews, Christians, and Muslims

One of the earliest and most pervasive signs of civility among humans is care in burial practices. Ritual burial, particularly with grave goods, may be one of the earliest detectable forms of religious practice. Desecration of grave sites is thus one of the cruelest forms of disrespect toward a people who reverence their deceased family members and ancestors.

During the darkest days of anti-Semitism in Europe, a widespread practice of raiding Jewish grave sites, even stealing headstones and using them for pavement, became common forms of abuse. The dire consequences of such hate were serial pogroms and ultimately genocide.

With this awareness and in a spirit of respect, the board of the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University extends condolences to and seeks solidarity with the Jews whose cemeteries have been maliciously desecrated at Chesed Shel Emmet cemetery in St. Louis a week ago and at Mt. Carmel cemetery in Philadelphia this week.

We denounce the callous disrespect and malicious intent of these desecrations and proliferating bomb scares that have terrorized synagogue communities across the country in recent weeks. We celebrate the helping hand that Muslim communities extend for the cleanup and moral support.

For those who respect religious sensibilities and practices, these acts of vandalism constitute desecration born of ignorance and contempt for religion and religious people.

The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies provides tuition assistance for educators taking courses in the graduate program of Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University in furtherance of the New Jersey Mandate for Genocide and Holocaust Studies (1993), which reads:

  • Every board of education shall include instruction on the Holocaust and genocides in an appropriate place in the curriculum of all elementary and secondary school pupils.
  • The instruction shall enable pupils to identify and analyze applicable theories concerning human nature and behavior: to understand that genocide is a consequence of prejudice and discrimination: and to understand that issues of moral dilemma and conscience have a profound impact on life. The instruction shall further emphasize the personal responsibility that each citizen bears to fight racism and hatred whenever and wherever it happens.

For additional information, please email srtf@shu.edu or call 973-761-9006.

The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies
Seton Hall University FH 242
South Orange NJ 07079


Statement from February 3, 2017

The Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University envisions a world without religious prejudice. We support efforts to foster understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions.

Click here to read Seton Hall University's statement on the recent executive order blocking immigration.


Statement from January 10, 2017

There has been a disturbing increase in hate crimes, hate speech and similar bias incidents in the United States since early November. As an organization that fosters understanding and cooperation among Jews, Christians and people of other religious traditions through advocacy and education, the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies deplores and condemns these actions and the people and institutions that perpetrate them.

Since 1993, the Sister Rose Thering Fund has funded the education of public, private and religious school teachers enrolled in Seton Hall University's graduate level Jewish-Christian Studies program. Here, our teacher-scholars acquire the tools necessary to explain and demonstrate to their students how much an enlightened society depends on acceptance, understanding and compassion for people whose traditions and experiences are different from their own.

Our Fund was created 25 years ago to honor Sister Rose Thering, a Dominican nun whose lifework included fearlessly confronting bigotry and intolerance, sometimes at personal risk to herself. As custodians of her legacy, we must speak out against discrimination and prejudice of any kind.

We urge all Americans to do the same.