JTS Scholar Exchanges Blessings with Pope Benedict XVI

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

June 27, 2007, New York, NY

Professor Burton L. Visotzky, Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, met and exchanged blessings with Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of the Jewish and Catholic communities. Dr. Visotzky met the Pope while in Rome serving as the Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he taught a course on Judaism and Christianity in the First Five Centuries.

The Pontifical Gregorian University is a Roman Catholic university. In 2001, the Gregorian University celebrated its 450th anniversary and currently hosts students from a variety of cultures and vocations in the Roman Catholic Church. It has one of the largest theology departments in the world, with over 1600 student-priests, seminarians, religious, and laymen and women from over 130 countries. Among the Gregorian’s illustrious students are fourteen popes and twenty saints.

A professor of Midrash and rabbinic literature, Dr. Visotzky joined the JTS faculty upon his ordination as Rabbi in 1977. He has served as the associate and acting dean of The Graduate School (1991–96), as the founding rabbi of the egalitarian worship service of the JTS synagogue, and as the director of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies. He is active in Jewish/Christian/Muslim dialogue internationally, most recently in Cairo and Doha, Qatar.

Dr. Visotzky has been a visiting scholar at numerous universities in the United States and abroad, and is the author of eight books, including the popular Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text (1991). His upcoming work, A Delightful Compendium of Consolation: A Novel (Fall 2007) is set in eleventh-century North Africa.

With Bill Moyers, he developed ten hours of television for PBS on the book of Genesis, serving as consultant and a featured on-screen participant. The series, Genesis: A Living Conversation, premiered in October, 1996. Dr. Visotzky was also a consultant to Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks SKG for their 1998 film, Prince of Egypt.

Dr. Visotzky sits on the Board of Advisors of the Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham Law School, the Steering Committee of the New Israel Fund Rabbinic Council, and served on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of CancerCare.

Editors/Reporters: To schedule an interview with Dr. Visotzky, please contact Sherry S. Kirschenbaum in the JTS Department of Communications at (212) 678-8953 or shkirschenbaum@jtsa.edu.

Founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school, The Jewish Theological Seminary today is the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide, encompassing a world-class library and five schools. JTS trains tomorrow's religious, educational, academic and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.