Argentinean Rabbi to Speak Here Nov. 19 About Pope Francis and the Jewish People

Rabbi Mordechai Levin, who met fellow Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis, will present the lecture “Pope Francis and the Jewish People: From Catholic-Jewish Relations in Argentina to Catholic-Jewish Relations around the World” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the O'Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning in collaboration with the Center for Catholic Studies at St. Thomas and the Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Rabbi Mordechai Levin

Rabbi Mordechai Levin

“During his tenure as head of the Argentina Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio promoted interfaith dialogue,” Levin said.  “He attended religious services at several synagogues, met with Jewish organizations, and enjoyed a friendly relationship with the Jewish community in Argentina.”

Levin will review this relationship in the context of the history of Catholic-Jewish relations in Argentina and what it suggests about the future of Catholic-Jewish relations around the world. He also will speak about the book On Heaven and Earth (Image, 2013), which his longtime friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka co-wrote with Pope Francis.

When he met on several occasions with the future Pope Francis, Levin was senior rabbi at one of the most prominent synagogues, Lamroth Hakol, in Buenos Aires. He later immigrated to the United States and became senior rabbi of Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, Neb., and is now the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Munster, Ind.

Levin received his rabbinic ordination from the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, and in 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.

A past president and a founder of the Latin American region of the Rabbinical Assembly, Levin was part of the delegation during the Latin American Jewish-Catholic Consultation co-sponsored by the Latin American Council of Bishops and the Latin American Jewish Congress.

Levin has remained actively involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue in the United States, frequently giving lectures to church, college and high school groups.

The Jay Phillips Center is a joint enterprise of St. Thomas and St. John’s University, Collegeville. Its mission is to promote interfaith learning, friendship and service, which it does on its host campuses and in many other Minnesota venues.